While it is entirely possible to fall in love with your first beach, you might want to date a few before you commit yourself.
I guess it also possible to love several beaches at one time but most of us are not wired that way. When you do find a special beach, you will know it. One of the clues you have found the right one is that you will want to share the beach with someone close to you.
I recently wrote about what you might expect in a beach in different areas and some things that help create a special beach vacation.
Among North Carolina beach areas, the Crystal Coast is unique in my mind. There is no shortage of beaches here on the Southern Outer Banks that I would like to declare special.
I will without argument admit to romances with several beaches. Nags Head is like an old flame that just will not leave the corners of my mind. Ocracoke was perhaps the first beach that I loved when I was in college. Then there is the Point at Emerald Isle. We are very comfortable with each other. I go to the Point more than I go any other beach. We have been seeing each other since 1969 and cannot seem to stay away from each other.
Then there is the siren call of the mistress of my beaches, Hammocks Beach. It is the unnamed beach that I posted recently on Facebook. I cannot get there as easily I can reach the Point because it is only accessible by boat. There is a little mystery to Hammocks Beach because of its location outside the “official” boundaries of the Crystal Coast. I would even like to the spend the night at one of the campsites at Hammock Beach but pulling out the old beach tent and sleeping bag is not something you do lightly.
You have to work a little to enjoy the pleasures of Hammocks Beach. Getting to Bear Island where it is located is just the first step. The next part is the hike across the island. It is not a long hike, but on a hot day there is a short section of the road that can be pretty warm.
There is no doubt in my mind that Hammocks Beach is worth every bit of the effort. The boat ride is usually pleasant though it can be nippy late in the fall. I find it nice to have someone else be the captain once in awhile. Not being captain lets me devote my full attention to photography.
I am always surprised by the number of people who make the trek to the island but in the grand scheme of things, it is a very small percentage of the people who visit our beaches who make the time for the trip to Hammocks Beach. Most people would rather walk a few hundred yards and enjoy the beach that is in front of their vacation house.
Those who do make the trip are rewarded by wonderful facilities and as much privacy as you want. I only had to walk 1,100 feet down the beach before I left the tiny crowd by the lifeguard stand. That short walk down the beach is just a fraction of the four miles or so of beach that grace the shores of Bear Island as it stretches from Bogue Inlet to Bear Inlet.
If you want to lose the crowds there is plenty of space to do it at Hammocks Beach. If you are a little more adventurous like I was in my early days, putting a pack on your back and registering for one of those isolated campsites is always a possibility. The park even has indoor showers reserved for campers. The campsites are rustic and I am pretty sure there are no mints on the pillows, but the view should be spectacular when you roll out of your tent in the morning.
I might have to stop this post because I am close to talking myself into a camping trip, and it has been a while since I have done that.
You can find lots of pictures of Hammocks Beach at this photo album from last year. I still working at getting the pictures processed that I took on June 14, 2013, but there are some first cut pictures at this link.
You can also see a map of my trip. I started recording the trip after I got down the beach just past the first campsite and to the point where I had left the crowds. I kept the GPS tracker going until we got back in our car on the mainland. The map will give you a good idea of just how much beach is at Hammocks Beach State Park.
Make that trip to Bear Island a priority, you might just get smitten. There are more details in our book, A Week At The Beach - The 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide.