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The Best Beaches for Camping in the U.S.

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 5/24/2019 Andrea Romano
a body of water © Larry Knupp/Getty Images

Grab your tent and your swimsuit.

When it comes to making weekend travel plans for the summer, you have a lot of options. Perhaps you want to sit in the sun with a beach chair, sunscreen, and a good book and just take in the surf. Or, perhaps you’d like to get your fill of the great outdoors and pitch a tent in the wilderness while the weather is still sunny.

Or, perhaps you can do both?

Campgrounds aren’t limited to a particular landscape. While quintessential camping in the mountains is certainly fun and rewarding, it can also be a fulfilling and unique experience to light your campfire right by the ocean.

Luckily, there are several picturesque beaches across the U.S. where you can set up camp. The gorgeous vistas of Hawaii are obviously a popular place for campers to trek during the summer months, but you can also find excellent ocean-side campgrounds from sea to shining sea on the mainland.

The west coast, from California to Washington State, 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 not only can you enjoy s’mores by the fire at night, you can also soak in the summer sun by day. All of the campgrounds listed below allow people to get close to the water or even camp right by the surf. Some even have grounds that allow RVs and campers.

Take a look at some of these incredible beaches with accessible campgrounds for people who want their beach day to never end.

1. Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park: Kauai, Hawaii

a body of water with a mountain in the background: Westend61/Getty Images © Provided by TIME Inc. Westend61/Getty Images

This state park has two major campgrounds: Hanakoa Campground and Miloli’i Campground. Visitors can get excellent beach camping in at Miloli’i, which is only accessible by boat and requires a rate of $20 per person per night. Visitors must also acquire a camping permit, which can be applied for online.

2. Wai’anapanapa State Park: Maui, Hawaii

water next to the ocean: Ron Dahlquist/Getty Images © Provided by TIME Inc. Ron Dahlquist/Getty Images

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 $12 and $18 per night. You can also rent a camper van for $18 per night (for non-residents), and cabins are available for $90 per cabin per night. To make a reservation, visit the park's website..

3. Homer Spit Campground: Homer, Alaska

a large body of water: Danita Delimont/Getty Images © Provided by TIME Inc. Danita Delimont/Getty Images

You can’t find more picturesque views of mountains and ocean than in Homer. Located along Kachemak Bay, this campground is large enough for 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 on making a reservation can be found on the Homer Spit Campground website.

4. Wright's Beach, Sonoma Coast State Park: Sonoma County, California

a rocky island in the middle of a body of water: Westend61/Getty Images © Provided by TIME Inc. Westend61/Getty Images

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 can range between $35 and $45 per night. Reservations can be made 48 hours to seven months in advance. More information can be found on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website.

5. Kalaloch Campground, Olympic National Park: Washington

a bench next to a body of water: Getty Images © Provided by TIME Inc. Getty Images

By far the most popular beach campground in Washington state, it's easy to see why. 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 $14 and $30 per night. More information on making a reservation can be found on the National Park Service website.

6. Apostle Islands: Lake Superior, Wisconsin

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21 islands make up the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, and camping is available on 19 of them. 16 of the islands also have backcountry camping options for people who don’t mind fending for themselves, or perhaps just want a more secluded experience. Camping fees begin at $10 per night, plus an additional $15 individual fee. More information can be found on the National Park Service website.

7. Hoffmaster State Park: Muskegon, Michigan

a body of water: Alamy Stock Photo © Provided by TIME Inc. Alamy Stock Photo

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 a local brewery. Camping fees range between $25 and $37 per night. More information on making a reservation can be found on the Pure Michigan website.

8. Grand Isle State Park: Grand Isle, Louisiana

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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) 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 $3 per person, per night. More information can be found on Reserve America.

9. Sea Camp Campground: Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

a large tree in a forest: Michael Shi/Getty Images © Provided by TIME Inc. Michael Shi/Getty Images

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 $4.00 per night. More information on getting a reservation and permit can be found on the National Park Service website.

10. Hunting Island State Park: Hunting Island, South Carolina

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This stunning campground is located between the idyllic 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, but also RVs with electric and water hookups, and there's plenty to do once you’ve settled in, including fishing, crabbing, hiking, and biking. Camping fees range between $3 and $5 per night. More information on making a reservation can be found on the South Carolina State Parks website.

11. Cape Lookout National Seashore: Harkers Island, North Carolina

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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 actually 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: Assateague State Park, Maryland

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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. And yes, you can camp near them. There are 104 beach-adjacent campsites to choose from where you can spot your equestrian neighbors, with rates between $20 and $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

a beach with palm trees: Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images © Provided by TIME Inc. Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

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. It’s also one of the world’s most romantic islands, so it’s ideal for outdoor-loving couples. Reservation rates begin around $38 per night. Information on making a reservation can be found on the Florida State Parks website.

14. Bird Island Basin: Padre Island National Seashore, TX

a bird flying over a body of water: Olga Melhiser/Getty Images © Provided by TIME Inc. Olga Melhiser/Getty Images

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

a group of people flying kites on a beach: Rhonda Venezia / Alamy Stock Photo © Provided by TIME Inc. Rhonda Venezia / Alamy Stock Photo

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. Visitors must make a reservation in order to set up camp on the beach, but luckily, rates begin at only $22 per night. To make a reservation, visit the park's website.

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