🏖️ Whether it’s a hot summer day or when cooler autumn breezes kick in, it’s always fun to plan a beach day in Onslow County! Get your toes in the sand on one of our three beaches and over 30 miles of family-friendly and uncrowded coastline. We offer the perfect playground for everything from sunbathing and bike riding to fishing, eco-tours, and water recreation.
If you like the idea of leaving the mainland behind, cross over the wide-span bridge and the Intracoastal Waterway, where you can quickly settle into vacation mode. On North Topsail Beach, you'll find three public beach accesses as well as lots of wide-open beaches for sunbathing and fishing. Unwind into a leisurely day focused on the sound of the waves or chatting with your friends and family. Be sure to read our blog, What You Need to Know About Parking at North Topsail Beach.
For longer stays, consider a beach cottage or multi-level oceanfront rental. For a resort experience with pools and onsite restaurants, consider a stay at St. Regis or Villa Capriani oceanfront resorts.
INSIDER TIPS: If you want the freshest seafood, head over to the fishing village of Sneads Ferry, where you can enjoy a water view and a plate of scallops or grilled Mahi, fresh off the boat at the renowned Riverview Cafe. Or, if you feel like cooking your own dinner, stop at one of Sneads Ferry’s fish markets to pick up the fixings for an evening crab boil or fish fry. See all of our dining spots in "The Ferry." Take an oyster farm tour with Ghost Fleet Oyster Company or learn about the flora & fauna, habitat, and wildlife at the Onslow County Environmental Education Center including a black bear, bobcat, and twelve-foot alligator!
As home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, we welcome visiting families year-round to Jacksonville/Onslow County to see their family members serving on active duty and to experience our beautiful area along North Carolina's southern coast. Onslow Beach is open to all authorized DoD ID card holders with proper base access. Be sure to click on the image for more information about amenities on base.
For an even more isolated and a feels-like-you’re-the-only-one-here experience, head over to Swansboro's Bear Island, which is accessible only by the Hammocks Beach State Park ferry or by private boat. As one of Travel + Leisure's Top Ten NC beaches, you’ll find over three miles of unspoiled island beachfront, with all the salty air, wave action, and large seashells that you want. What you won’t find are cars, condominiums, and crowds. It’s truly a “back to nature” vibe. Start at the visitor center at Hammocks Beach State Park to sign up for the 25-minute ferry ride.
The visitor center also has information about camping on the island’s primitive tent sites if you’re interested in an overnight stay underneath a one-of-a-kind view of the nighttime sky.
For more beach recreation, Marsh Cruises offers sunset, shelling, and night excursions along Bogue and Bear Inlets. Charter a day or evening sunset cruise aboard his 23-foot Bay Rider Skiff, and owner Darryl Cruise will take you to the best spots for finding sand dollar seashells. Like Marsh Cruises, Lady Swan Boat Tours also offers daily cruises from Swansboro’s historic waterfront to Hammocks Beach State Park and Jones Island.
INSIDER TIP: Don't miss a visit to Swansboro's Historic District with over forty unique shops and eateries! Enjoy lunch or dinner dockside and stay for the live music!
Wherever you are on Onslow's coast, you'll be captivated as the sun begins to sink into the horizon. You may see an occasional fisherman casting a rod and reel, hoping for one last nibble from a hungry fish. If you’re looking for a busier evening, join the crowd for dinner and live entertainment on the outdoor patio of a waterfront restaurant. But, if you’re enjoying the quiet vibe, relax and settle onto the sand. Listen to the sound of waves crashing onto the shore while the sun disappears, just as the lights from a row of oceanfront cottages begin appearing, casting shadows on the ocean. It’s been a day well spent.