Open Year-round
Reservations possible?
RV Hookups
Potable water
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Bear Island is the place to camp in Hammocks Beach State Park. The experience here is much different than in most state parks, however. It's not car camping in close quarters with a hundred other people. Instead, it's primitive beach camping in relative isolation. If you like the idea of beach walks by moonlight, sleeping to the sound of surf, and waking up to sunrise over the ocean, and if you are willing to earn it by carrying your gear across the sand, dealing with some heat, wind, and bugs, and maybe even paddling a kayak to reach it all, then camping in Hammocks Beach could be for you.

Bear Island can only be reached by boat. Many people come to enjoy the beach, but few stay overnight. For day trips or camping trips, you can either take the ferry or paddle the Bear Island Water Trail. The ferry docks are on the marsh side of the island opposite the beach. A half-mile path leads across the island to a boardwalk with ADA access to reach the beach. There are restrooms, picnic shelters, drinking water, outdoor showers, and a seasonal concession stand. Aside from these few amenities, there are no services on the island. Plan on bringing all your own food, water storage, and other supplies needed for a comfortable stay. Try to pack lightly, however, because you must carry all your own gear to and from your site. If you will be paddling, you may be able to pull right up to your spot, depending on the site you choose.

There are 14 primitive sites and two group sites spread out on the northeast half of the island. Most are tucked among the dunes on the beachfront just a short walk from the restrooms and water spigot at the beach access point. Three of the sites are cut off from the rest, however, and they can only be reached by boat from the water trail. If you stay at one of these paddle-in sites you should bring all your own water and be prepared to manage your own waste.

No matter where you stay, be sure to pack out what you pack in. There is no garbage service on the island. Each site has a picnic table and post to hang food out of reach of animals. Fires are not allowed. Camping is open year round, but water is typically turned off from mid November to mid-March, during which time you must be sure to bring your own.

Campsites are $10 per night (ferry ticket not included). Advance reservations are recommended, and you must check in at the visitor center to obtain your permit. Pets are allowed on the island if they are kept on a leash and attended at all times, but they cannot ride on the ferry.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)



Rarely full

Parking Pass


Price per night (basic site)

10.00 $ (8.40 €)


Beach camping. Walk-in or paddle-in sites.


Sites are small and somewhat exposed.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Reservation phone number

1 (910) 326-4881


Potable water
Family friendly
Big vistas


Boat in

Total number of sites



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Tidewater + Outer Banks, North Carolina


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