Filling a long summer day with surf and sand and then tucking in to your sleeping bag each night with the sounds of the ocean crashing beside you … ahhhh, beach camping is a quintessential summertime experience. Here are some of our favorite spots for seaside camping in the U.S.
Get a rare glimpse of pristine, undeveloped Floridian shoreline at Anastasia State Park, located in historic St. Augustine. The beachside campground is located within the “maritime hammock,” which means all 139 campsites are a short walk or bike ride from the park’s 4-miles of undisturbed coastline. A fully stocked concession shop is available onsite for convenient kayak, canoe, paddle board, and bike rental.
Pitch your tent at one of the 168 campsites perched high on a bluff overlooking the southwestern coast of Olympic National Park, right on the Pacific Ocean. Kalaloch campers enjoy beach access from the campgrounds, making it easy to explore the park’s diverse tide pools and coastal forest trails. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a sea otter frolicking in the ocean’s kelp beds (whales and dolphins have also been known to make an appearance).
For the adventurous camper looking for a more sand-forward experience, Cape Lookout National Seashore offers primitive beach camping (no designated campgrounds, here) on the undeveloped barrier islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore. A ferry ride (available from April to November) takes you to Cape Lookout. Cars are optional — if you decide to bring one, know you’ll be driving on sand, so 4WD is a must and drivers should be prepared to follow regulations in place for off-road vehicles). Pack your bug repellent and get ready to experience 112 miles of unspoiled NC shoreline. Kayaking, fishing, and getting a nighttime glimpse of bioluminescent plankton are popular activities here (just be sure to get a fishing license first, and always, always inquire with park rangers about conditions and plans before setting out).
Year-round campsites are available alongside this popular 2-mile stretch of beach in Northern California’s beautiful Bodega Bay. Both Bodega Harbor and Bodega Bay are excellent places for boating, kayaking, stand-up paddling, and some serious sport fishing. Beachcombers can also enjoy excellent kite-flying conditions, tide pools, and a plethora of bird-watching opportunities, including a memorable hike on the park’s Birdwalk Coastal Access Trail.
What better way to experience Maui’s verdant eastern coastline (and one of its famous black sand beaches) than with a stay at one of Wai’anapanapa State Park’s 60 coveted campsites? Lavatubes, freshwater caves, and natural stone arches are just some of the sites visitors can explore during their stay. Permits are required for campers and can be obtained in advance. Not traveling with your tent or camper van? No problem. Wai’anapanapa has a few beachside cabins available as well, but reserve early — spots go fast.