Photo by Emily Marie Wilson/Shutterstock
Photo by Shutterstock
Pitch a tent for beach camping on the Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, and wake up to these views.
These waterfront camping sites offer unbeatable sunrise and sunset views. Here’s where you can pitch your tent or drive your camper van right onto the sand—or as close to it as you can get.
If nature’s mixtape of lightly crashing waves and seabirds calling coupled with an awe-inspiring sunrise sounds like your ideal way to wake up, then you may want to consider camping right on the beach. Depending on where you are geographically in the United States, beach camping options might include an RV parking site, a campground where you can pitch a tent, or even booking a beachfront cabin. Don’t forget to explore your local surroundings while at your campsite by hiking natural formations, canoeing on nearby waterways, or watching birds and other wildlife. Here are eight of the best places for beach camping in the U.S. right now.
If awe-inspiring views of sandstone sea cliffs is your cup of tea, then consider Sunset Bay State Park, located just south of Coos Bay near the small fishing village of Charleston, Oregon. This Oregon Coast campsite is made for an active retreat—you can catch sun rays on the park’s nearby sandy beaches or swim in the calmer waters. Take advantage of the plethora of hiking trails around the campsite that also connect to the nearby Shore Acres and Cape Arago state parks.
The longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world is located along the Padre Island National Seashore, reaching 70 miles across the Gulf of Mexico coastline. This nature preserve 25 miles southeast from Corpus Christi is home to 380 bird species and is popular for families that like to wake up at sunrise and view sea turtle hatchling releases. For the adventurous sort, Padre Island boasts such activities as swimming, nature hikes, and kayaking.
Whale sightings are a rare but exciting highlight of a visit to Orcas Island in Washington State. The campground at the West Beach Resort is easily accessible via ferry from the mainland via a Washington State Ferry departing from Anacortes and offers quaint, beachfront cabins as well as pet-friendly safari tents. You can take in the views from the cabin patios and take part in family-friendly campground activities like face-painting and treasure hunts. For water lovers, kayak or canoe around East Sound Bay, as well as lakes on Orcas Island and the Pacific Ocean, where you might spot local wildlife like sea otters and blue heron.
Boating fanatics who want to camp on a beach should head to the Saranac Lake Islands in New York, where you have access to lakes through a set of locks that allows your vessel to be raised or lowered to the right water level. Your over-water camping sites are located on Lower Saranac Lake and Middle Saranac Lake.
Don’t have your own boat? No worries; outfitters in Saranac Lake offer canoe, kayak, and motorboat rentals. Coupled with the ability to camp on selected island sites, you can grill your fish for dinner, while listening to the calls of common loons as the sun sets.
With a hodgepodge of outdoor activities, Eagle Beach State Recreation Area offers plenty of trails for power walking and hiking as well as places to fish. The campsite is roughly 27 miles north of Juneau, Alaska’s capital, in the southeastern part of the state. While camping here, take in the panorama of Mount Juneau and the Lynn Canal, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for sea lions, whales, and seals that rest along the area’s waterways.
Situated along southern Alaska’s 4.5-mile stretch of road, the Homer Spit is known as the world’s longest road into ocean waters. Mark your bucket list for a stop at the Homer Campground, which has ample RV and tent camping availability. From your RV, you can view Kachemak Bay and the surrounding mountains. There are also cultural activities available along the peninsula like the Inupiat Heritage Center and the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve Visitor Center that provides visual renderings of the historic 1,000-mile migration land bridge between Alaska and Russia, once trekked by woolly mammoths and scimitar cats.
Overnight beach camping on Jekyll Island can be experienced at this wooded 18-acre campground, a short walk to the beach. (The campsite is not directly on the beach as that is prohibited by Georgia State Park ordinance.) However, this destination is still well worth a stop with its 179 total campsites, including 167 full hook-up sites and 12 primitive tent sites.
Once you’ve settled in, walk along the popular Driftwood Beach, a striking array of trees and branches left behind due to soil erosion. Amenities at the campsite include free Wi-Fi, two bathhouses with toilets and hot-water showers, and coin-operated washers and dryers. If you need to bulk up on supplies for your tent or RV, there is a general store stocked with necessities like firewood, propane, ice, and personal items. A market with additional groceries and take-out food is just a five-minute drive away.
If you’re a bird lover, then the Manitou Islands are the place for you. The destination is a part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan’s lower peninsula, home to numerous species of hawks and eagles. The Manitou Island Transit provides regular ferry service to both North and South Manitou Islands by private boat or by passenger ferry service run by Manitou Island Transit. The ferry service operates from the Fishtown Dock located in Leland.
Camping options are available on both North Manitou Island, which contains eight designated campsites, and at Popple Campground right next to the water on South Manitou Island. On both islands, you can pitch a tent along one of several designated campsites; after a night of rest, venture out on the popular “dune climb,” a hike along the scalable mounds located in the park.
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