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The 15 Best East Coast Beach Camping Destinations

The 15 Best East Coast Beach Camping Destinations

Are you craving a getaway where the waves lull you to sleep under a star-studded sky? Look no further than the East Coast, where plenty of stunning beach camping destinations await. From the rugged shores of Maine to the sun-kissed beaches of Florida, there’s something for every beach lover and camping enthusiast. Here are some of the best East Coast beach camping spot for families.

The Best East Coast Beach Camping Spots for Families

1. Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia

 Assateague Island is home to some of the best East Coast beach camping

Imagine waking up to the sound of wild horses just roaming outside your tent. That’s the magic of Assateague Island — a barrier island stretching across Maryland and Virginia. The island offers some of the best East Coast beach camping in the country.

Campers here can enjoy miles of pristine beaches perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Don’t forget your camera — the sunrises and sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean are breathtaking. Plus- there are wild horses on this island and you can see them right on the beach!

 Assateague Island is home to wild horses

Camp here: There are a few things to keep in mind when planning your trip. Firstly, camping on this island is only available in the Maryland district.

Ensure you locally purchase firewood to prevent the spread of pests, and grab sunscreen, insect repellent, screen tents for shade and long tent stakes to secure your lodgings in the sandy, windy conditions.

Campgrounds on Assateague Island offer several amenities, such as chemical toilets, seasonal cold showers and drinking water. However, some are only available from mid-March to mid-November, so it’s crucial to research beforehand.

2. Cumberland Island, Georgia

The 15 Best East Coast Beach Camping Destinations 1

For those seeking a more secluded retreat, Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia is a hidden gem. Accessible only by ferry, this untouched paradise offers primitive camping amid windswept dunes and ancient maritime forests. As you explore the natural wonders, look for wild horses, armadillos and various bird species.

Cumberland Island Sea Camp
Cumberland Island Sea Camp by Jason Carter

Camp here: Sea Camp Campground is located a short half-mile walk from Sea Camp Dock. This spot features walk-to tent sites, meaning campers need to transport all their gear from the dock to the campsite. There are carts to help with this.

The campground has flush toilets, drinking water, cold showers and a dishwashing sink. Each site comes with a fire ring, grill, picnic table and food storage options. This place is quite popular, so it often fills up quickly.

Campfires are allowed in designated fire rings, but beach fires aren’t permitted. There is cell phone reception on the island, so bring it along to capture the beauty of the surroundings.

3. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Cape Hatteras is a great East Coast Beach Camping destination

Nature enthusiasts flock to Cape Hatteras National Seashore for its unparalleled beauty and recreational opportunities. Conditions average around 80° Fahrenheit during the summer — a comfortable temperature for enjoying some beach activities in the sunshine.

Pitch your tent along the sandy shores and spend your days surfing, kiteboarding, fishing, hiking, or soaking up the sun. Be sure to visit the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse — a beloved symbol of the Outer Banks.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Camp here: There are four campsites to choose from, all of which accommodate tents, trailers and RVs. Many of the campgrounds offer wheelchair access, picnic spots, grills, public bathhouses and drinking water. You can hear the rolling waves from your site and it’s just a quick walk down to the shore. Cape Point Campground is the largest and closes to the iconic lightouse.

4. Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City new Jersey

Ocean City — located just an hour outside Philadelphia — is an ideal destination for beach camping enthusiasts looking to combine the tranquility of the outdoors with the vibrant atmosphere of a classic seaside town.

Though it’s known for its spotless beaches and family-friendly boardwalk, the city offers numerous camping options that provide easy access to sunbathing, swimming and various water sports. Campers can enjoy the scenic beauty while taking advantage of the amenities and attractions that make the area a beloved vacation spot.

Camp here: Ocean View Resort Campground is a massive resort with over 1,000 sites as well as a stocked fishing pond, a variety of sports courts, mini golf, swimming pool and splash pad, and lots of organized activities. Ocean CIty Campground has similar ammenties but is much smaller with jus 186 site. Both also offer glamping options.

Pack your swimsuits and sunscreen, as these campgrounds are just a short drive away from the famous Ocean City Boardwalk and its perfect white sand beaches. 

5. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park boasts some of the most picturesque coastal landscapes in the country. While camping directly on the beach isn’t permitted, several campgrounds within the park offer easy access to the shoreline.

Take a scenic hike along the rugged coastline and explore tidal pools. It’s always lobster season in Maine, so don’t forget to indulge in some fresh lobster from a local seafood shack.

Acadia National Park shoreline

Camp here: There are campgrounds on Mount Desert Island, the Schoodic Peninsula and five shelters on Isle au Haut, depending which area you’re eager to explore. Blackwoods is the closest to Bar Harbor and the park’s main attractions. You can reserve RV and tent sites at this popular campground up to two months in advance

Good to know: You’re only allowed to camp at Acadia in the summer and you must purchase firewood locally, as non-native wood may contain species that threaten the park’s resources.

6. Myrtle Beach State Park, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach State Park

Myrtle Beach is an excellent choice for those who prefer a beach camping experience with plenty of amenities. The city offers over 60 miles of beautiful beaches.

Located on the Grand Strand coastline, the state park offers a mix of tent and RV sites with convenient access to sandy beaches, fishing piers and nature trails. It also features educational programs and activities, making it a great spot for families.

Camp here: Camping at Myrtle Beach State Park is a fantastic way to adventure along South Carolina’s famed Grand Strand. The RV sites are equipped with modern amenities like water and electrical hookups, restrooms, and hot showers. There are also plenty of tent sites as well as an on-site store and nature center.

Water park at Ocean Lakes Family Campground
Water park at Ocean Lakes Family Campground

If you are looking for more of a resort-style camping experience, check out Ocean Lakes Family Campground. This park has full hookup sites for RVs, tent sites, and a mile of beachfront. There are also multiple swimming pools, a water park, mini-golf, arcade, and on-site restaurants.

7. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

The 15 Best East Coast Beach Camping Destinations 2

Cape Cod National Seashore provides a unique blend of beach and forest camping. This national treasure boasts beaches, forests, marshes and ponds. Visitors can explore the historic lighthouses, dunes, and scenic hiking and biking trails. The area is rich with wildlife, with over 450 species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and fish to spot.

Nickerson State Park
Nickerson State Park

Camp here: Nickerson State Park is a popular campground with over 400 sites, set among pine and oak forests, freshwater ponds, and bike paths. It’s an ideal spot for those who enjoy coastal and woodland activities.

8. Everglades National Park, Florida

Bird at Everglades National Park

For a truly unique camping experience, consider Everglades National Park. Spanning over 1.5 million acres over southern Florida, the area is a vast network of wetlands and mangroves filled with wildlife. Popular wildlife include the American crocodile, the West Indian manatee, the Florida panther and the Florida snapping turtle.

Everglades Eco Tent
Everglades Eco Tent

Camp here: The Long Pine Key and Flamingo campgrounds offer a chance to immerse yourself in the diverse ecosystem of the Everglades, with options for canoeing, birdwatching and wildlife spotting. The park’s subtropical wilderness is home to alligators and manatees, providing an unforgettable adventure for nature lovers.

If you prefer to have electricity and four walls separating you from nature, check out the glamping tents at the Flamingo campground which are available from November through April.

9. Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Hunting Island South Carolina is a good east coast beach camping destination

Hunting Island State Park is a beloved coastal retreat renowned for its beaches, forests, and wildlife. The park boasts plenty of natural attractions, including miles of unspoiled sandy shores, salt marshes, and tidal creeks. There’s no shortage of trails, allowing hikers to explore the varied ecosystems, while the lagoons and piers provide excellent opportunities for crabbing.

Hunting Island State Park beach

Camp here: Hunting Island State Park is a coastal gem offering a mix of beach and wilderness camping. With campsites just a short stroll from the beach, you can enjoy swimming and fishing without having to go too far.

Climb the 167 steps to the top of the historic lighthouse, explore the nature trails and spot plenty of wildlife. The five miles of beach make it a picturesque spot to pitch a tent. There are 100 campsites, which include modern facilities and a playground for the little ones to enjoy.

10. Delaware Seashore State Park, Delaware

The 15 Best East Coast Beach Camping Destinations 3

Located along the Atlantic coast, Delaware Seashore State Park is perfect for those who love water activities. It features miles of sandy beaches ideal for swimming and sunbathing.

Water enthusiasts can enjoy boating, fishing and crabbing in the inland bays. The Indian River Inlet is great for surfing or watching boats. The state park is also home to the historic Indian River Life-Saving Station, offering a glimpse into the maritime history of the area.

Delaware Seashore State Park

Camp here: This area offers oceanfront and bayside camping options, with opportunities for swimming, surfing, boating and fishing. Modern amenities — including showers and electric hookups — make it a comfortable and convenient choice for beach camping.

11. Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina

Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park along the South Carolina coast offers the perfect combination of beach and nature camping. The area offers a three-mile-long beach ideal for swimming and strolling, just 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach.

In addition to a great beach, the park has marshes that are home to alligators, loggerhead sea turtles, and a variety of birds like herons, egrets, and ospreys.

Boardwalk at Huntington Beach State Park
Boardwalk at Huntington Beach State Park

Camp here: The campground at this state park provides 170 tent and RV sites with amenities such as water and electrical hookups, restrooms, and showers. Visitors can explore the historic Atalaya Castle, fish in the lagoons, and hike the nature trails.

12. Chincoteague Island, Virginia

The 15 Best East Coast Beach Camping Destinations 4

Chincoteague Island is famous for its wild ponies and beautiful beaches. It’s the ideal spot for swimming during the warmer months, with water temperatures reaching a high of 75˚ to 79° F in August. area offers a picturesque harbor, with opportunities for boating and fishing. With its quaint shops, seafood restaurants, and annual Pony Swim event, the island is known for its small-town atmosphere.

Camp here: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Chincoteague Island has a variety of camping options including RV sites with full hookups, tent sites, cabins, and even luxury safari tents. The resort has a a pool, lazy river, splash pad, dog park, playground, bike rentals, kayak rentals, laundry facilities, organized activities, and a camp store.

13. Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Big Cypress Preserve

Nestled in the lush landscapes of Southern Florida, Big Cypress National Preserve is a haven for adventurers. This biodiverse wilderness spans 700,000 acres, and is characterized by its sprawling wetlands, cypress swamps and waterway network.

Big Cypress National Perserve made our list of the best East Coast camping destinations. See what else is on the list!

Here, visitors can witness the temperature and tropical ecosystems, and rich variety of flora and fauna, including endangered species like the Florida panther and the West Indian manatee. The preserve offers plenty of outdoor activities, from birdwatching and kayaking and off-road exploration.

Big Cypress Preserve Sandy area

Camp here: Big Cypress National Preserve permits different kinds of camping, depending on your location in the park. The Midway Campground has electric hookups, toilets, picnic tables and grills, whereas Mitchell’s Landing and Burns Lake have primitive camping without water.

14. Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Echo Lake New hampshire
Echo Lake

While the White Mountains aren’t situated on the coast, Echo Lake Beach in Franconia Notch State Park offers the same feel without the roaring waves. Surrounded by stunning scenery, this clear, spring-fed lake sits right by a sandy beach, perfect for swimming and picnicking.

The calm waters are ideal for a leisurely paddle, with kayak and canoe rentals available for those looking to explore the lake further. It’s a great destination for families with young children.

White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The forest boasts numerous campgrounds, each providing easy access to the incredible landscapes of the White Mountains. Campers can enjoy various activities, including hiking, rock climbing and fishing.

The Appalachian Trail crosses through this region, offering challenging hikes and rewarding views. The campgrounds are equipped with facilities like restrooms, picnic tables and fire rings, ensuring a comfortable stay while surrounded by the natural beauty of the alpine peaks, lush forests and clear streams.

Camp here: Lafayette Place Campground has 97 wooded sites and is just four miles from Echo Lake Beach. Conveniences like showers, restrooms, and even a camp store are located onsite.

15. Hammocks Beach State Park, North Carolina

The 15 Best East Coast Beach Camping Destinations 5

Hammocks Beach State Park is a serene destination well-known for its beautiful barrier island beaches and interesting habitats. The park’s main feature — Bear Island — is only accessible by passenger ferry, private boat or kayak, guaranteeing a peaceful and uncrowded trip. Visitors can explore the shoreline and tidal creeks.

Bear Island Beach
Photo via DragonIslandSky

Camp here: Camping at Hammocks Beach offers a unique experience. Bear Island features primitive campsites located just steps from the beach, allowing campers to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean waves and wake up to stunning sunrises over the Atlantic. The campsites provide basic amenities, including picnic tables, fire rings and nearby restrooms with cold showers. Campers must bring all necessary supplies, as you can only access the area by boat.

Note: Camping and ferry service to Bear Island will be closed for 2024 due to a construction project to replace the water and septic systems

Jack Shaw