Swansboro, NC

Visit Swansboro (27.5 miles from Beaufort, NC). Just before the Cameron Langston Bridge to Emerald Isle, at the intersection of NC 24 and 58, is the community of Cape Carteret. Here is a shopping center, churches, two challenging golf courses, restaurants, the Golfin’ Dolphin sports and recreational park and beautiful residential property along the Intracoastal Waterway on Bogue Sound. Follow Hwy. 24 through Cedar Point, where roadside stands offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Continue on Hwy. 24 to Swansboro on the White Oak River. This small seafaring village was first settled by the Algonquian Indians and its history is deeply rooted in commercial fishing. Visit specialty shops on the historical downtown waterfront, go antiquing, charter fishing or dine at one of the town’s many delightful restaurants.

The Swansboro Rotary puts on a gala oyster roast each March and an exciting Bluewater and King Mackerel Fishing tournament over the Memorial Day weekend. The annual Mullet Festival brings lots of people for fish and festivities each October. The Storytelling Festival in May, Arts by the Sea in June and a sparkling Christmas Flotilla each Yuletide season invite you back to enjoy Swansboro throughout the year.

Follow signs on Hwy. 24 to state road 1511 just south of Swansboro to Hammocks Beach State Park headquarters. Here is the landing for the free ferry to Bear Island (a.k.a. Hammocks Beach). On the island are camping sites, a marked kayaking trail and a dominating crest of sand dunes that is the envy of other NC barrier islands. Sea turtles return in early summer to nest on Bear Island, and during summer full moon periods when nesting is most active, camping on the island is prohibited to give the turtles every undisturbed chance to nest. Park rangers offer scheduled nature programs that focus on the natural history of Bear Island.

A lovely way to see the entire area is by bicycle along the 25-mile Swansboro Bicentennial Bicycle Trail. The loop takes bikers through historic downtown Swansboro, into the Croatan National Forest and by interesting historic landmarks and country stores. Along the way, stop to see the Hadnot’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church (c. 1840), the only remaining evidence of the once-thriving community, Pelletier’s Mills, that had its own post office and water-powered grist mill. You’ll also peddle through the village of Stella which was a bustling center of mill activity, boatbuilding and shipping. The lumber industry folded in the years of the Great Depression, and Stella dwindled to its present size.