Bear Island is located off the coast of North Carolina and is part of Hammocks Beach State Park. It is a small, secluded island that is only accessible by boat. Our family recently visited for a day trip and we all absolutely loved it!
We started our day in the visitor’s center where we bought our ferry tickets and then explored the kids’ area. All the kids loved the high powered microscope and Alex loved the shark information.
You can get to the island on your own personal boat, kayak, or canoe. The state park also offers a passenger ferry for access to the island from April-October each year. There is a minimal fee for riding the ferry. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the island from the mainland. Tickets are first come, first served. The round trip cost is $5 for adults, $3 for kids ages 6-13 and kids under 5 are free. There are discounts for senior citizens and yearly passes are available. You can find the ferry schedule online.
Once on the island you have to walk about half a mile to get to the beach. Alex was NOT a fan of this at all! He hated every minute of it. While walking I did get to talk with a lady who was there to camp for the weekend with her husband. She said she has camped there every summer since she was ten years old and she is now 57 years old! She was very interesting and she was very encouraging to Alex.
At the end of the half mile walk is a bathhouse, a concession stand, and a picnic area. There are outdoor showers for day use (there is one inside shower that is for overnight camper use only). The concession area is open from Memorial Day-Labor Day (and they only take cash) and lifeguards area available during that time period as well. One thing to remember is there are NO trash receptacles on the island so any trash you accumulate has to be taken off the island with you.
Along the beach you will find 14 campsites. There are also two group campsites available. It can be quite a long hike to your campsite and you’ll be walking on sand to get there. I can see how it would be very tiring to walk all that way while carrying all your camping supplies!
The island itself is beautiful. The area is called the Crystal Coast for a reason–the water is so clear! It was very calm the day we were there and the kids had such a good time swimming.
Madalyn and I went on a hunt for a sand dollar and finally after 45 minutes we had success! She had such a good time and told me, “I could stay out here all day long!”
We ate our packed lunches on the beach and enjoyed the sunshine. After five hours on the beach we packed it up and headed to the ferry. Before leaving, we saw a huge snake swimming in the sound. We’re pretty sure it was water moccasin. The kids were fascinated and a little freaked out! We were a little sad to have to say goodbye to Bear Island.
Alex fell asleep on the walk back to the ferry and all the kids fell asleep on the drive home!
It was such a fun day. We can’t wait to go back!