Bear Island /
Bear Island is a 892 acre barrier island that spans over 3.5 miles and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Inter-coastal Waterway. Bogue Inlet lies on the northeast end, and Bear Inlet lies on the southwest end of the island,
each creating plenty of beautiful scenery. As part of the inner barrier islands of the Outer Banks, Bear Island is a place of unspoiled maritime beauty, and a popular place for daytrips, camping, boating, kayaking, and enjoying the native wildlife.
Native Indians inhabited the island for many years, but it was not until the 19th century that the island actually got its famous name. Known for its vast shrub thickets and large sandy dunes, it is very easy to see how the island got its famous name. Mostly deserted, and only accessible by ferry, boat, or canoe, Bear Island was originally named “bare island” by Tobias Knight, the secretary to the Royal Governor at the time. It is believed that Tobias Knight and Governor Eden were friends of Blackbeard the prirate, and it is told that the legendary pirate helped Knight negotiate the deal for the land that is today Bear Island. Knight received money and gifts from Blackbeard in return for promising to keep him safe while off the coast of North Carolina, and much of Blackbeard’s treasures were since discovered in Knight’s barn. Today, many historians and other locals believe that some of Blackbeard’s most treasured items might have been buried on Bear Island.
Much of Hammocks Beach State Park is located on Bear Island and nearby Huggins Island. A ferry service runs from the headquarters of the park on the mainland thru Cow Channel to Bear Island, and some 200,000 people a year take the 25 minute long trip through the channel to enjoy all of the amenities and recreation available at Hammocks Beach State Park. In recent years the tide has been quite low and due to sand migration the Cow Channel, where the ferry passes through, is sometimes shut down. The park however, is always open, even when the ferry is not operating.
Huggins Island is located between the mainland and Bear Island, and is part of Hammocks Beach State Park. Filled with thick forests and large live oaks, Huggins Island’s landscape is very different from neighboring Bear Island’s. From the western end of Huggins Island one can look out and see the beautiful seaside town of
Swansboro. Huggins Island is only accessible via a private boat and camping is only permitted
in certain areas. Kayakers love this area and boat and kayak rentals are available from rental companies on the mainland. Nearby Sharks Tooth Island is a miniscule dot on a seaside map and an island famous for its abundance of sharks teeth that wash ashore on the eastern shoreline; this island is not part of Hammocks Beach State Park but is a great place to check out.
Secluded and tranquil, Bear Island is free from commercialism and truly a marine wonderland. Commonly, people mistake the island for a bear sanctuary or place where wild bears may roam, however Bear Island is really only home to animals such as the gray fox, white tailed deer, loggerhead turtles, crabs, and a variety of migratory birds. The ocean and tidal marshes are home to smaller marine animals, and visitors to Hammocks Beach State Park often report seeing bottle-nose dolphins frolicking in the waves. Between the middle of May and late August, the female loggerheads come ashore at night to nest along the shoreline above the high tides. These mother loggerheads weigh from 150 to 300 pounds and nest every 3-4 years. During their nesting season they will lay up to six nests in a year, and the nests are typically 10 to 20 inches deep. Inside the nests are typically
about 120 eggs, which are the size of ping-pong balls. The numbers of loggerhead turtles has been declining over the years as the turtles have to fight off other predatory animals that prey on their eggs, thus resulting in lower numbers of hatched turtles. Educational exhibits and events often take place at Hammocks Beach State Park to teach the public more about these beautiful creatures that are slowly
Visitors to Bear Island and Hammocks Beach State Park will love the camping, swimming, sunbathing, bird watching, shelling, and all the other abundant outdoor activities. Fishing is very popular here and angler’s love being able to catch their own flounder, blue gill and other seafoods.
This area was highly traveled in the past few centuries and at one time was a thriving fishing village. Blackbeard ‘s infamous ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, reportedly sank off
North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and has since been recovered.
The Queen Anne's Revenge was not the only ship to fall victim to the region known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. There have been at least five other shipwrecks that were known to have occurred off the coast of Bear Island. Many of these wrecks were due to the difficult waters and navigation problems through the Outer Banks.
Debris from the famous 1926 wreck of the two mast schooner named Morris and Cliff, still washes ashore today. The vessel was carrying over 40 tons of nails and visitors to Bear Island North Carolina and the Hammocks Beach State Park area routinely find nails on the shore.
Bear Island NC, Huggins Island, and Hammocks Beach State Park are located in Onslow County North Carolina, very close to the town of
Swansboro. Known for its breathtaking sunsets, beautiful crystal waters, and unspoiled coastline,
Swansboro is a lovely place to call home. At Happy House Realty, we can help you buy and sell
NC real estate near this preserved paradise on Bear Island. We specialize in helping our clients find homes for sale near Camp Lejune
and the Marine Corps New River Air Station, two of Onslow County’s
biggest economic resources. Let us help you with all of your
real estate needs; browse our North Carolina beach homes for sale along the Crystal Coast and contact us today.
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