Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Hammock's Beach: Soulful Destination

Posted April 13, 2006

NC Coastal Federation chief Todd Miller once described it as the perfect beach and the one you would enjoy had it not been for all of the development to swallow up the Tar Heel shoreline. You can journey to Hammock's Beach State Park in Onslow County by private boat or marine taxi. It's near Swansboro and just south of Emerald Isle. The park consists of nearly 900 acres on Bear Island. It can be a "bear" of an island in the summer with the mosquitoes. But if you get a sea breeze it can be a perfect place to play. You idea of a beach may be mostly sand. Hammock's Beach offers shrub thickets and maritime forests giving it a wilderness feel. I should point out that parts of the island make you feel like you're in the desert. Good place for meditation. Loggerhead turtles nest here between mid May and late August. A typical nest will contain 120 ping pong-sized eggs. After a two month incubation period hatchlings will appear and race to the sea. Rangers note that "the life of the loggerhead sea turtle is not an easy one. Danger is always around the corner. Raccoons and foxes often forage the nests, and ghosts crabs and other nocturnal animals often feed on the hatchlings." Other natural highlights include migratory shore birds who feed in tidal marshes. Herons and egrets fish for food here. Bottlenose dolphins swim offshore. Dugout canoes were once used to navigate these waters. Pirate ships came later with Blackbeard spending time here pondering his latest plunder. Today kayakers explore the marsh and the soulful delights of Hammock's Beach State Park.

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