Beach camping is adventure everyone can enjoy; it doesn’t take a lot of equipment to get started or a lot of money to secure a campsite. Plus, you have access to some of the most amazing scenery around without the hassle of crowds of scrambling to find a parking spot. Many, if not most, beaches close for the evening, but a few fantastic beaches are open for overnight campers. They’re found along oceans, rivers and lakes from coast to coast and points in between. With everything from rustic campsites to well-appointed cabins, it’s a snap to find a campsite that’s both scenic and fitting to your style.
California Beach Camping
The 840 miles of the California Coast bring a long list of delights from the beaches of San Diego up towards redwoods country in Northern California. Much of this coastline as been preserved as parks and other public access sites, and it’s possible to find campgrounds at severals of these seaside sites overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Of the San Diego beaches, a handful are open for beach camping. One of your best options is San Elijo State Beach. Located just north of the city in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the park offers 158 campsites, with six handicapped accessible and 28 sites that can accommodate RVs and campers up to 35 feet. You’ll find more beaches open to camping along the Southern California coast than the Central Coast because of the steep cliffs, but there are still plenty of places to camp here. In Pismo Beach, camping is allowed at Oceano Dunes; if you’re planning driving rather than hiking, you’ll need four-wheel drive to make it to the campsite. Northern California offers plenty of campsites on the beach and off the beaten path. Try Sunset Beach, just to the south of Santa Cruz or the hike-in campsites of Point Reyes National Seashore on the west side of Tomales Bay.
Florida Beach Camping
Moving to the East Coast, the situation for Florida beach camping is similar to California. There are a lot of beaches without a ton of options for camping. But you’re not shut out if you’d rather spend a night along the Atlantic of the Gulf Coast—you’ll have options spread throughout both coasts. Just 30 miles north of Daytona Beach, the Beverly Beach RV Camptown Resort is one of the few campsites with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. The privately run resort, available year-round, offers a combination of RV sites and cabins with amenities for campers. In the Florida Keys, many of its campsites overlook the water, including Bahia Honda State Park and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The primitive campsites at Dry Tortugas National Park are accessible by private boat or ferry.
South Carolina Beach Camping
The mainland beaches and barrier islands of South Carolina are a welcome sight in any season, providing warmth in winter and cooling breezes in the summer. Myrtle Beach, one of the most popular destinations along the East Coast, is such a hotspot for beach camping, it’s earned the nickname “the seaside camping capital of the United States.” The majority of the spots are located at the two state parks: the aptly named Myrtle Beach State Park on the north side of the Grand Strand and Huntington Beach State Park to the south. In between, several private campgrounds welcome Myrtle Beach vacationers to pitch a tent or park their RVs.
Washington & Oregon Beach Camping
In between the California border and the southern border of British Columbia lies a long coastline with beautiful beaches, secluded bays, and charming seaside towns — Seattle included. The Oregon state parks are always a popular choice for camping, and many of the state parks are within steps on the beach. People come to South Beach State Park to windsurf, go crabbing, and enjoy kayaking tours. While many vacationers return to their hotels in nearby Newport, others don’t leave the park once the sun sets. They settle into one of the hike-in campsites, connected to one of the 228 electrical hookups, or retreat to one the 27 yurts. Washington’s beaches also offer ample opportunities for camping steps away from the Pacific Ocean. One good choice, Grayland Beach State Park, occupies nearly 8,000 feet of prime beachfront property south of Westport. It offers heated yurts or platform tents for its campers.