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Hammocks Beach State Park

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A Hidden Gem of Natural and Historic Wonders

Feel the warm sunshine on your face and the quiet that comes from being unplugged.  With so much nature and history all around and miles of sandy beachfront to enjoy, Hammocks Beach State Park is one of the few places that remains untouched by development and is ready to be explored.

1572 Hammocks Beach Rd, Swansboro, NC 28584
PHONE: 910-326-4881
Nestled in the seaside town of Swansboro, Hammocks Beach State resides on 1,500 acres, which includes three smaller islands -- Dudley, Huggins, and Jones, situated near the mouth of the White Oak River. Your journey begins in the Visitor Center where the exhibits tell the story of the park’s historical past and the current efforts to maintain the parks ecology. Parking at the visitor center is free.

New York physician John Sharpe purchased the Hammocks Beach and Bear Island as a vacation refuge in 1914 and donated it to the state’s black educator organization, the North Carolina Teachers Association (NCTA), in 1950. Sharpe had originally intended to give the property to his longtime estate caretaker, guide, and friend John Hurst and his wife, a teacher. The Hursts requested, instead, that the land be donated to the NCTA to honor teachers and create a sanctuary for the African American community. The park was later integrated with passage of the federal Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Experience a diverse ecology at Hammocks Beach from endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles to nesting Shorebirds. learn about the park's conservation efforts to ensure the coming generations can enjoy the beauty that surrounds Hammocks Beach State Park and its barrier islands.

Things To Do

Hammocks Beach State Park has many activities for the public to enjoy. Visitors can hike their 3-mile wooded trail that begins at the entrance of the park and winds through the grounds of Hammocks Beach. There are 204 species of birds that have been sighted at Hammocks Beach. See if you can spot any on your trek through the woods.

Visit the park’s crown jewel, Bear Island, one of Travel + Leisure's Top Ten NC Beaches. Just a passenger ferry ride or private boat ride away, this secluded island is home to crystal coast waters and endless adventure. Take a day trip over to swim in their calm ocean or go sea shelling on their shores. Primitive campsites are open year-round and there are opportunities for backpack and group camping.  Reservations can be made on the Hammocks Beach State Park website, here. The island offers plenty of open space and scenic views for those wanting to really experience nature. Learn more about camping at the island in this informative video – Camping at Bear Island. With onsite bathrooms and wheelchair accessibility, anyone can have a memorable overnight stay at Bear Island. Other than taking a few selfies to share, you’ll relish the “back to nature” vibe of this island that is free of cars and houses. Once you leave the shore, you'll be introduced to the salty air and will see the salt marshes and estuarine creeks that are part of the park’s habitat, and perhaps you’ll see an occasional dolphin or fish break the surface of the water! To learn more about Bear Island, visit our page.

CLOSED for the Summer of 2024 for construction for the ferry service and camping. For more information click here.

Explore the natural wonders of the unspoiled maritime forest on a kayak or paddleboard. Bring your own, or rent equipment from the park's onsite outfitter, Paddle NC.  Dolphins, beautiful shorebirds, and the occasional loggerhead sea turtle popping its head up to say "Hi!" are some of the amazing experiences to enjoy on your own or on a guided tour.

Use the Visitor Center’s launch site to put in canoes and kayaks before checking out the park’s three well-marked paddle trails ranging from 200 yards to more than six miles. The Bear Island Trail is a one-way trek that begins at the kayak launch and ends at the Bear Island campsites. The Huggins Island Trail begins and ends at the kayak launch and circles Huggins Island, a smaller island visible from downtown Swansboro.

Plan Your Trip

See the Hammocks Beach State Park maps for planning your trip. Know where your hiking and paddling trails are to ensure safety. Also, know how to get around the grounds of the park. Click the maps to download and take them along your journey.

Experience all the wonders Hammocks Beach State Park has to offer next time your in the mood for amazing adventures and lifelong memories.

For more information about Hammocks Beach State Park, call (910) 326-4881, or visit


For more information about visiting Bear Island, check out our Beach Days in Onslow page as well as our Outdoor Fun & Adventures in Onslow blog post.

Did you know that Swansboro was named One of the 25 Coolest Small Towns in America?  READ ON!