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Ecology

Kayaking at Hammocks Beach State Park
Campground Closure   

BEAR ISLAND CAMPING CLOSED JUNE 20-21, 2021.

Due to possible impacts and hazardous conditions from Tropical Storm Claudette Hammocks Beach State Park will be closing camping on Bear Island Sunday, June 20th, and Monday, June 21st.  Camping will reopen on Tuesday, June 22nd.

Ferry service to Bear Island will be running on schedule.  Ferry may be delayed due to inclement weather.

 Last updated on: Sunday, June 20, 2021

Status of Park Facilities as of June 15, 2021   

Due to an ease in COVID-19 restrictions, FERRY SERVICE to Bear Island has returned to a normal schedule.  From Saturday May 29, 2021, until Monday September 6, 2021 the ferry will operate 7 days a week. Masks are no longer required on board the ferry. Please see the ferry schedule for complete information.

Bear Island bathhouse restroom facilities are open with potable (drinkable) water.  The concession stand is open for cash only sales daily 10am – 5pm and there are no lifeguards on duty.  Swim at your own risk and use extreme caution as rip currents and strong currents can occur at any time.

Visitor center, exhibit hall, trails, mainland restrooms, and boat ramp are open daily.  The boat ramp will be closed from 9–10am and 2-3pm for ferry re-fueling as well as Mondays and Tuesdays from 9am – 11am for ferry vessel maintenance.  Masks are not required however visitors are encouraged to wear a mask while in park buildings. 

Bear Island is open for day use and Bear Island beachfront and sound side campsites are open for campers.  Sound side campsites are not accessible by ferry and have no access to the bathhouse.  Sound-side campers must have transportation to the island by canoe, kayak, or private boat and must bring all necessities with them. See the Reservations page to make a reservation.  Please note open fires are not permitted anywhere on Bear Island.

Beachside campsites 1-11 will be CLOSED during “King Tide Events”, June 22 – 26, 2021; July 21 – 25, 2021; October 6 – 12, 2021; November 3 – 9, 2021, and December 2 – 7, 2021. A king tide occurs when the sun, earth, and moon align, resulting in exceptionally high tides.  Beach erosion from hurricanes and winter storms, reduced the Bear Island primary dune and during king tides, ocean waves will be at the dunes, restricting access to campsites 1-11 for extended periods of time.

Visitor center hours:  8am – 6pm, gate hours 8am – 7pm. 

Please see the Hammocks Beach Updates Page or www.ncparks.gov/open for additional information.

 Last updated on: Tuesday, June 15, 2021


Map of North Carolina


Contact the park
 

910-326-4881

hammocks.beach@ncparks.gov
 

Address
 

Visitor center

1572 Hammock Beach Road
Swansboro, NC 28584

GPS: 34.6710, -77.1429
 

Hours
 

► 

  • September to May:
    8:00am to 6:00pm
     
  • June to August:
    8:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

► 

  • September to May:

Open daily:
​8:00am to 5:00pm
 

  • June to August:

Open daily:
8:00am to 6:00pm
 

  • Closed Christmas Day
     

Ferry
 

2021 ferry schedule (updated)

Current ferry protocols

 


 

 

 

Natural resources

Get plant and animal checklists at the park office.

Except for 33 acres on the mainland, Hammocks Beach State Park is located on Bear Island and Huggins Island.

Bear Island is an 892-acre barrier island. The island, 3.5 miles long and less than a mile wide, is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and by salt marshes, estuarine creeks and the Intracoastal Waterway to the north. Bogue Inlet lies at the northeast end of the island; Bear Inlet lies to the southwest.

Shrub thickets and maritime forests create a wilderness environment, yet in parts of the island it's easy to imagine you're in the desert. Seawater has not washed over the island in recent years. Thus, large dunes and sand ridges dominate the landscape. Migrating sand, carried by the wind, often buries portions of the maritime forest.

Perhaps the most interesting animal found on the island is the loggerhead sea turtle. Between mid-May and late August, female loggerheads come ashore at night to nest above the high-tide line. Weighing from 150 to 300 pounds, the females nest every three or four years, laying up to six nests a year. Nests range from 10 to 20 inches deep and often contain 120 eggs. The eggs are about the size of ping-pong balls. After a two-month incubation, the hatchlings emerge from the nest and race to the sea.

The life of the loggerhead sea turtle is not an easy one. Danger is always around the corner. Raccoons and foxes often forage the nests, and ghost crabs and other nocturnal animals often feed on the hatchlings. Young turtles are often preyed upon in the ocean and adult turtles have been adversely affected by human populations. Should the loggerhead manage to survive these threats, it may live up to 70 or 80 years and may weigh as much as 400 pounds. The loggerhead turtle is on the federal list of endangered and threatened species. Those who disturb or harm turtles, nests or hatchlings are subject to penalty.

Huggins Island, located just east of Bear Island in the mouth of Bogue Inlet, is a 225-acre island visible from downtown Swansboro. The island consists of 115 acres of upland area surrounded by 96 acres of lowland marsh. The island's varied natural habitats and cultural resources contributed to the its inclusion in the state parks system.

Huggins Island is home to a maritime swamp forest, which is listed as a Globally Rare and Significant Area. Huggins Island has a rich history, from Native American fishing and hunting grounds, to being home to a Confederate six-cannon battery in 1861-62. Its commanding view of Bogue Inlet and the town of Swansboro was an obvious strategic value. For visitors familiar with Hammocks Beach State Park, Huggins Island's thick, dense maritime forest is a stark contrast to Bear Island's sandy beach and open dunes bursting with sea oats.

Hammocks Beach is also a haven for migratory shore birds who feed in tidal marshes and rest on the beach in the spring and fall. Watch herons and egrets search for food or witness osprey plunging into tidal creeks to capture fish. Bottlenose dolphins swim offshore, while white-tailed deer, raccoons and gray fox inhabit inland areas.

Tall dunes vegetated by sea oats, American beachgrass and seaside goldenrod lend a golden glow to open areas of the park. At the northeast end of the island is a maritime forest populated by loblolly pine, red cedar, red maple, red bay and various oaks. The northwest portion of the island is primarily marsh, dominated by cordgrass and needle rush.