America's beautiful beaches double as excellent places to go camping. To help you make the most of your time off this summer, see where you can camp directly on or right next to the sand. So, immerse yourself in nature and wake up to these amazing beach site locations.
The Florida Keys are home to several beaches that permit camping, but if enjoying phenomenal Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico vistas without straying too far from Key West is a priority, check out Bahia Honda State Park. Situated 35 miles northeast of Key West on a remote island, Bahia Honda provides a quintessential Florida backdrop of swaying palm trees, crystal-clear waters and stunning sunsets. Inside the park, travelers can rent snorkeling gear to explore offshore when they’re not birdwatching, fishing or biking onshore. Bahia Honda campgrounds that offer waterfront sites include Buttonwood and Bayside. Buttonwood is ideal for travelers with RVs, as its sites are gravel and come with electricity hookups and access to a bathhouse and a dump station. Meanwhile, Bayside appeals to campers who want to rough it, since its only on-site amenities are picnic tables, grills and water.
Though you may be tempted to spend most of your Gulf Coast beach vacation on better known South Padre Island, consider traveling farther north to North Padre Island. Here, you’ll discover Padre Island National Seashore, which boasts more than 130,000 acres of beaches, trails and campsites. Multiple beach camping areas are available, including Bird Island Basin Campground, where you can enjoy Laguna Madre panoramas and activities like fishing, kayaking and windsurfing. The campground offers sections for both tents and RVs, but there are no on-site amenities other than covered picnic tables and chemical toilets, so plan on stocking up on supplies at the Malaquite Visitor Center before you arrive.
Located in the middle of the Florida Keys, this waterfront state park was one of many stops along Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway. Everyone from former President Herbert Hoover to American author Zane Grey frequented this tranquil spot to fish. Today, the park’s main oceanfront campground is closed due to damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017, but you can still camp by the shore year-round at the smaller primitive campground. Amenities in this campground, which is only accessible on foot from the 1.5-mile-long Golden Orb Trail, include restrooms in the parking area and designated campsites with picnic tables, grills and flat sections for tents.
A quieter beach park than others found in and around nearby Santa Barbara, California, Jalama Beach County Park appeals to everyone from surfers to anglers to wildlife enthusiasts. Inside this West Coast sanctuary, visitors can catch a wave, cast a line or go whale watching and birding. The park also serves as a superb option for camping by the Pacific Ocean. All of Jalama Beach’s 107 campsites offer beach or ocean panoramas, as well as amenities like picnic tables and barbecue pits. Additionally, the park has restrooms with hot showers and a convenience store that sells grocery staples and fishing equipment. Each campsite can accommodate up to eight people and two vehicles.
For easy access to a beach campground from New England cities like Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, head to Horseneck Beach State Reservation. Situated less than 70 miles south of Boston and about 35 miles southeast of Providence, this 2-mile-long stretch of sand boasts breathtaking Buzzards Bay vistas, plus excellent windsurfing, fishing and bird-watching opportunities. Beach wheelchairs are also available, meaning travelers with mobility issues will be able to enjoy the beach and its scenery as well. At the beach’s tent-, trailer- and RV-friendly campground, visitors will find 100 partially paved campsites and a variety of amenities, including basketball and volleyball courts, a playground, picnic tables, grills, a dump station and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers. Each campsite can accommodate up to four adults, two tents and two vehicles.
In Napali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai’s north shore, most visitors choose to camp at Hanakoa or Kalalau, which boast proximity to the challenging Kalalau Trail. But if your main objective is to sink your toes in the sand while camping, opt for quieter Miloli’i. Only accessible by boat or kayak, this beach is a haven for monk seals and sea turtles. On-site amenities include covered picnic tables, fire rings and an outhouse. You can camp on any flat sections of the beach; however, you can only camp here from May 15 to Sept. 7. Permits are valid for no more than three consecutive nights and are sold online and at Hawaii’s Division of State Parks offices.
If you happen to live in the Midwest far from the country’s West Coast and East Coast beaches, Northern Wisconsin’s stretch of Lake Superior shoreline features 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland packed with small white sand beaches. Several of the lakeshore’s islands offer campsites on or near a beach, including Outer Island, York Island and Manitou Island. No matter which location you choose, you can expect to find amenities like fire rings and bear-proof food storage lockers. Some sites also offer picnic tables, tent pads and vault toilets or stump privies. Keep in mind, almost all of the lakeshore’s campsites are only accessible by boat. You must make advance reservations for camping permits, which are valid for up to 14 days.
At Sandy Neck Beach Park, which sits in the mid cape section of Cape Cod, you can extend your day at the beach by camping overnight in an off-road vehicle or tent. Camping in an off-road vehicle can get expensive, so consider staying in the primitive tent area. This sandy section of the park is located more than 3 miles away from the parking lot, so you’ll need to hike with your gear to your site. Keep in mind, Sandy Neck requires starting your hike before 7 p.m. Once you arrive, you’ll find amenities like a portable toilet and drinking water. Every campsite offers space for five people and two tents. You can stay no longer than two consecutive nights.
Located within 50 miles of top Oregon vacation destinations like Newport and Florence, Siuslaw National Forest offers the unique opportunity to combine a trip to the beach with an outing in the woods. Within this dense forest’s 630,000-plus acres lies Tillicum Beach Campground, one of the area’s most popular spots to camp thanks to its location and array of activities, such as surfing, swimming and whale watching. Tillicum features 61 campsites, most of which overlook the beach. Campsites can accommodate up to eight people and offer basic amenities like picnic tables and fire rings, as well as access to flush toilets and drinking water. But remember, showers are not available on-site. The campground is open year-round but fills up fast, especially in summer, so plan on reserving your campsite online or by phone ahead of time.
Because Cape Lookout National Seashore is only accessible by passenger or vehicular ferry, it provides a quieter atmosphere than other local beach havens in the Outer Banks. After arriving to the seashore, vacationers can climb the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, go birding or enjoy water sports activities like kayaking and windsurfing. Most of the seashore’s 56 miles of beaches allow visitors to camp directly on the sand without a permit, making this an excellent option for those sticking to a tight budget. However, all beach camping here is primitive, so campers will need to come prepared. It’s best to travel without an RV since there are no roads or hookups. Additionally, facilities like camp stores are not available, though travelers can access restrooms in some areas during the warmer months.