I’ve found I get my best response to “what do you want for Father’s Day-your birthday-Christmas-etc?” to be let Jeff pick an activity he wants to do.
This Father’s Day was no exception. Jeff decided he wanted to take the family to Hammock’s Beach State Park near Swansboro. We’d never been before so this would be a “fact-finding mission” or as Jeff called it “surveillance.”
The park is only reachable by boat which means either you take your own boat, kayak or canoe; or you pay a small fee to ride a state-run ferry. There is a large parking area on the mainland (it’s the kind of ferry that transports humans, not cars) and an education center about Bear Island (where the beach is) and picnic tables and a big lawn. We ate lunch at the education/visitors center before taking the ferry over to Bear Island.
A few things to note: no pets on the ferry. I’m sure they probably have an exception for service animals, but I’d call first to find out how that is handled. Also, no strollers unless they are fully collapsed on the ferry (same with beach “carts”). And there are no trash cans on the island. They do provide bags but you have to bag your trash and carry it back to the mainland. There is a bath house and also a concession stand (cash only). And, yeah, it’s a pretty decent walk from the ferry pier to the shore. My kids were fine with the walk, but it could be rough for the three and under crowd (and some four-year-olds). As a state park, it’s a leave only foot prints (and none on the dunes!) and take only pics and memories place, if you find shells, make sure there’s nothing in them and that sea stars and sand dollars washed up on the beach are actually dead before bagging them!
That all being said, you do have life-guards and covered picnic areas there and the island is pristine without all the “development” and they never have to pump sand in.
The water was rather rough yesterday so we were glad for the lifeguards (even if we didn’t so much “need” them, it was reassuring). We had tide pools too which everyone but Shelby enjoyed (she’d rather be thrashed by waves, sensory issues ftw). It was unseasonably cool in the air and water so we didn’t stay as long as we might have but we did have fun. We scoped out the primitive camps sites. They were all sandy which we’re not a huge fan of but we may try at some point.
We really enjoyed it though and we’re even considering at some point the investment of a boat as the ferry is congested and somewhat limiting. And with our budding fisher-people it is definitely an awesome destination.
It was a really great day and we enjoyed the trip and spending time together. Hope that Father’s Day was awesome for all the dad’s out there!