Sandy beach
Yes
Hike-in Required
No
Surfing
No
Snorkeling / SCUBA
No
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Situated on the far end of Bogue Banks at the mouth of Beaufort Inlet, Fort Macon escapes the attention of many who come for Atlantic Beach or Emerald Isle. Fort Macon Beach remains popular, but mainly among those seek something just a bit different. This is the island's windswept eastern point, where currents from the open Atlantic and river mouths meet. The beach here is inviting, though it feels a big rough around the edges compared to others on the island. 

There is a designated fishing beach and swimming beach. The swimming area is on the south-facing stretch, and just to the east, the beach facing the inlet is for fishing. Fishing is allowed anywhere, but swimming is not allowed outside of the designated area. Currents can be very strong near the mouth of the inlet, so the restrictions on swimming are there for good reason. Be sure to obey all posted warnings about weather and riptides. From Memorial Day to Labor Day lifeguards are on duty.

Coming here avoids some hassle associated with other area beaches, like paid parking or finding street spots. Like other North Carolina state parks, entry to Fort Macon is free of charge. There is a large parking lot at the main beach access, which has a bathhouse, picnic shelters, and a seasonal concession stand. This is the swimming beach. You can walk to the fishing beach from here or park a bit farther up the road near the visitor center and access the fishing beach from there. Open hours vary slightly by the season, but the gate always opens at 8 a.m. and closes between 7 and 9 p.m.

Fort Macon, a Civil War-era coastal defense, is the main attraction of the state park. You can get to it by a short drive or leisurely hike from the main beach area.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Free parking and access. Amenities.

Cons

Limited hours. Strong currents.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Features

Crabbing
Fishing
Historically significant
Picnic tables
Covered picnic areas
Bird watching
Wildlife
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Potable water
Showers
Shelters

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Tidewater + Outer Banks, North Carolina
Tidewater + Outer Banks, North Carolina
Cape Lookout National Seashore

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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