Bear Island, located in Onslow County, can be reached by ferry, kayak, canoe, and at one point– pirate ship! This park has a story to tell. The best way to learn about it is by seeing it yourself! A well-trafficked area in the summer seasons, but a treasure year round!

The paddle to Bear Island is a good one year round. What makes it especially good is that it’s the only way to get to the island. After an easy 2-mile paddle through a shallow, relatively protected marsh on a well-marked canoe trail, this three-mile-long barrier island awaits. Walk the lonely beach front, devoid of the sun worshippers and picnickers who will soon descend. Note that this all ends once Hammocks Beach State Park fires up its ferry service for the season. This season is on a limited bases beginning April 1, full-time, seven days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Until then, you’ll be so enchanted you won’t want to leave — and you needn’t thanks to the island’s 14 campsites.

Look forward to therapeutic walks along the sandy shore (categorized as a 4-mile hiking trail). The intriguing task of shelling is literally at your feet. Rumor has it, the winter season has the best stock of shells. The earlier in the day, the better variety in store. Remain entertained by testing your luck for some puppy drum, trout, or flounder when you bring a fishing rod. In the warmer months, you my find yourself taking a dip in the salty waters around. Keep your eyes peeled for the various bird species soaring around the island. If you’re lucky, you may spot from a distance Loggerhead and Green Sea turtles coming to nest. Black bears have even been reported along the shore and in the forest. Despite the original name, Bare Island, due to lack of vegetation– there sure is a lot to see!

The scenes you’ll encounter are as rich as the history behind it. It was first inhabited by Neusiok and Coree Indians, later frequented by pirates like Blackbeard, eventually served as military grounds during the Civil War and World War II, purchased by a retired neurosurgeon, eventually donated to the NCTA who then donated it to the State to develop as a park open to minorities and eventually integrated following the Civil Rights Act. This beach has seen a lot of history.


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