Bear Island is the major section of Hammocks Beach State Park on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. The Island is 4 miles long with a south facing white sand beach the is only accessible by boat. The park operates a ferry, but many choose to paddle the 4 mile trail through the salt marsh, which is what we did. While it serves a recreational function, with a new bath house and primitive camping sites, the vast majority of the island is wild and undisturbed. There are no bears on Bear Island; local folklore is that it used to be called Bare Island, but a cartographer misspelled the name on a map and it stuck.
The island was once owned by Dr. William Sharpe, a neurosurgeon of New York, where he came to hunt. He loved the island so much that he acquire it for his retirement. Sharpe intended to will the property to John Hurst, his longtime hunting guide and friend, but Hurst persuaded him to donate it to the North Carolina Teachers Association, an organization of African American teachers. In 1950, the group assumed the deed to Bear Island and attempted to develop the property. Limited funds and the island's remoteness rendered their efforts unsuccessful. In 1961, the association donated the island to the state of North Carolina for a park.
The Crystal Coast of North Carolina is an 85 mile stretch of coastline that runs from Cape Lookout National Seashore westward to the New River (not to be confused with the New River in NW NC that flows north to the Ohio River). This area is also call the Southern Outer Banks. This is a great place to visit with much to offer and explore: Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Harkers Island.
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