The Best Beach Camping in the U.S.
Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
There are several picturesque beaches across the U.S. where you can set up camp. The West Coast, from California to Washington, is a treasure trove of campground gems that give you excellent access to the Pacific Ocean. Back east, states along the Eastern Seaboard like Maryland, North and South Carolina, Florida, and Massachusetts have dozens of grounds that cater to campers of all experience levels.
And the best part about all of these places is that you can enjoy s’mores by the fire at night and soak in the sun and surf by day. All of the campgrounds listed below allow people to get close to the water or even camp right by the surf, and some even have grounds that allow RVs and campers.
Here are 15 of the best beach camping spots in the United States. Note that some of these campgrounds have limited seasons, so check ahead for opening dates and availability.
1. Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park: Kauai, Hawaii
This state park has two major campgrounds: the Hanakoa and Miloli’i campgrounds. Visitors can enjoy excellent beach camping at Miloli’i (which is only accessible by boat), with rates starting at $25 per night. Visitors can apply for camping permits online. This campground is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
2. Wai’anapanapa State Park: Maui, Hawaii
Black sand beaches, tide pools, freshwater caves, and a natural stone arch are enough to attract any tourist. Not only is this state park breathtakingly beautiful, it also has some of the best beach camping around. Visitors must acquire a permit and make a reservation, with rates between $20 and $30 per night, and cabins are available for an additional fee. To make a reservation, visit the park's website.
3. Homer Spit Campground: Homer, Alaska
You can’t find more picturesque views of mountains and ocean than in Homer. Located along Kachemak Bay, this campground is large enough to fit over 100 RVs and at least 25 tents. Even though it’s Alaska, you won’t be roughing it either. The campground is very close to restaurants, shops, and bars as well. Beachfront campsite rates begin at $35, but there are far more sites to explore if you don’t want to be right on the water. More information can be found on the Homer Spit Campground website.
4. Wright's Beach, Sonoma Coast State Park: Sonoma County, California
There are tons of Instagram-worthy sites along this coastal beach park located on Highway 1. Wright’s Beach hosts 27 campsites and even allows dogs as long as they stay on leash. Rates start at $35 per night, and reservations can be made 48 hours to six months in advance. More information can be found on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website.
5. Kalaloch Campground, Olympic National Park: Washington
This is by far the most popular beach campground in Washington state, and it's easy to see why once you visit. The rocky terrain is certainly different from your typical beach experience, and it’s home to several types of wildlife including gulls, whales, and even bald eagles. Rates can vary between $24 and $48 per night. More information on making a reservation can be found on the National Park Service website.
6. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: Lake Superior, Wisconsin
21 islands make up Wisconsin's Apostle Islands, and camping is available on 18 of them. 16 of the islands also have backcountry camping options for people who don’t mind fending for themselves or just want a more secluded experience. Individual campsites are $15 per night, and reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance. More information can be found on the National Park Service website. Overnight camping on the lakeshore is currently suspended — check the website for updates.
7. Hoffmaster State Park: Muskegon, Michigan
With three miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, there’s a lot to see and do on this popular campground. It has massive grounds — 297 sites in all — with tons of beautiful views, hiking trails, and even skiing trails. Even though the area seems secluded, visitors noted that you can take a short trip into a nearby town or even to a local brewery. Camping fees range between $25 and $37 per night. More information can be found on the Pure Michigan website.
8. Grand Isle State Park: Grand Isle, Louisiana
Located only two hours from New Orleans, this campground is the best way to experience the bayou when you’re done sauntering down Bourbon Street. It offers 49 RV sites (with electrical and water hook-ups) and 14 tent sites that are right on the beach. Along with enjoying fun in the sun, the campground also has fishing, crabbing, and trails to hike. Rates begin at $18 per night, and more information can be found on Reserve America.
9. Sea Camp Campground: Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia
You can only get to this remote island by boat, but the trip is well worth it. Visitors can explore the freshwater wetlands and spot scores of fascinating wildlife while hiking to this campground. Plus, it has several modern amenities like treated drinking water, showers, and toilets. One drawback: You can’t light any campfires on the beach, but there is a fire pit. Reservations may be made up to six months in advance, and fees begin at $22 per night. More information about reservations and permits can be found on the National Park Service website.
10. Hunting Island State Park: Hunting Island, South Carolina
This stunning campground is located between the cities of Charleston and Savannah. The beautiful beach offers a quiet, secluded getaway where you can bring your canine friend along, too. Its 100 campsites can cater to tents and RVs with electric and water hookups, and there's plenty to do once you’ve settled in, including fishing, crabbing, hiking, and biking. More information, including camping fees and reservations, can be found on the South Carolina State Parks website.
11. Cape Lookout National Seashore: Outer Banks, North Carolina
Anyone who is looking to really rough it should definitely take a trip to this campground in North Carolina. There are no formal campsites and few amenities, so you’ll mostly have to fend for yourself, but the gorgeous, sandy beach and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean are tough to beat. In general, you don’t need a permit unless you have a party of 25 or more. More information can be found on the National Park Service website.
12. Assateague Island National Seashore: Assateague Island, Maryland
Sure, camping is fun, but you know what would make it better? Horses. Lots of wild horses. This tiny island between the Chincoteague Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is home to a famous herd of wild ponies. There are over 100 beach-adjacent campsites to choose from where you can spot your equestrian neighbors (from a safe distance, of course), with rates starting at $30 per night. Information on making a reservation can be found on the National Park Service website.
13. Bahia Honda State Park: Big Pine Key, Florida
If you’ve ever dreamed of camping under palm trees, this campground located in the Florida Keys is the perfect place for you. Here, visitors love to go snorkeling while exploring Bahia Honda’s pristine sands and emerald waters. Reservation rates begin around $36 per night. More information can be found on the Florida State Parks website. Sandspur Beach is currently closed for camping due to hurricane damage.
14. Bird Island Basin: Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
Windsurfers and kayakers have definitely found a little bit of paradise on this little campground. It’s also amazing for people who love to fish or observe bird life — it is called Bird Island, after all. Camping fees are $8, or $4 for seniors. There is a communal fire pit, though grilling is also permitted unless otherwise noted. One thing to remember: It’s dry camping only, which means no electricity or running water, though there are showers available. Information on making a reservation can be found on the National Park Service website.
15. Horseneck Beach State Reservation: Westport, Massachusetts
This two-mile beach is just west of Martha’s Vineyard and features gorgeous roses growing wild, plenty of windsurfing, and 100 different campsites to choose from. Rates start at only $22 per night for Massachusetts residents. To make a reservation, visit the park's website.