Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
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.

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)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Free parking and access. Amenities.


Limited hours. Strong currents.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions


Historically significant
Picnic tables
Covered picnic areas
Bird watching
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Potable water


Nearby Adventures

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

Nearby Lodging + Camping


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.

You May Also Enjoy

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Rice Lake State Park, Minnesota
Sweetheart's Bluff Nature Area, Minnesota