The feel of soft sand running between the toes, the sound of waves crashing against each other, and the feel of the ocean’s breeze on the face after a long day is something most outdoor lovers look forward to experiencing every year. There is something about camping at the beach that makes the whole experience more exciting.
The East Coast has arguably the best oceanfront in the US. Most of these beaches are accessible and open throughout the year.
It is hard to narrow down to just a few beach camping destinations on the East Coast because each offers a unique experience. To help you get started, here are ten beach camping locations we think you should consider when planning your East Coast outdoor adventure.
This post is part of our series Discover the USA
1. Assateague Island, Maryland
No beach camping list on the East Coast would be complete without mentioning Assateague. Located inside Assateague Island National Seashore, this spot has a bit of everything: Pristine sandy beaches, wild bays, salt marshes, and maritime forests.
Camping by the beach here can be a wonderful experience, but you should book early as spots fill out fast. Sections have been put aside for both tent and RV camping. Pets are allowed on the beach under precise guidelines.
Spotting the famous Assateague wild horses is a favorite activity among campers here. Fishing, swimming, kayaking, paddling, crabbing, hiking, cycling, hunting, horseback riding, and camping are also popular.
If you are camping with kids, there is an Assateague junior ranger program they can join to learn basic survival skills, become a junior ranger for a day and earn a badge.
Over-the-sand driving is allowed in certain sections of the beach.
Reservations are required from March 15 through November 15. Costing $30 per night, campsite reservations are available six months in advance.
2. Echo Lake Beach, Maine
Echo Lake Beach is part of four beaches making up Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park. Echo Lake Beach is freshwater and has warmer waters in comparison to the other three. It does not attract summer crowds, making it ideal for people seeking a more private camping experience. This beach is located behind the High Beech Mountain cliff.
There is no lifeguard on duty; however, the shoreline is shallow enough for kids to swim safely. The background of a natural forest and high cliffs make the location picturesque.
Canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and paddling are popular activities on this beach. Pets are not allowed on Echo Lake Beach.
3. Anastasia State Park, Florida
With over 1600 acres of natural habitat and 139 campsites, there is no shortage of excitement awaiting you in Anastasia State Park.
Birdwatchers will have a splendid time sporting the many bird species that call this place home, including warblers, spoonbills, shorebirds, and Ospreys. Pets are not allowed into the temporary nesting areas.
Other experiences you can enjoy on this beach include camping, cycling, fishing, paddling, surfing, boating, geo-caching, and swimming.
While camping here, amenities at your disposal include an amphitheater, a pavilion, shower station, restroom facilities, laundry facilities, and paved nature trails.
Visit the historic Spanish Coquina Quarries while you are here. The coquina was a popular material used to build famous houses, including Castillo de San Marcos.
4. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
The beauty of camping on this ocean barrier is that you can listen to the swoosh of the waves crashing into rocks. Cape Hatteras was the first National Seashore in the US.
There are four campgrounds here (Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, Ocracoke, and Frisco campgrounds), each with something unique to offer. Oregon Inlet and Ocracoke remain open year-round, whilst Cape Point and Frisco are open from April 2 to November 28.
Oregon inlet is the largest, with 120 RV and tent camping sites. There are numerous opportunities to enjoy the outdoors while camping here, for instance, bird watching, swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, boating, and surfing.
Available amenities include clean restrooms, hot showers, and laundry facilities. 47 campsites on the Oregon inlet have full electrical and sewer hookups.
The price per night ranges from $20 to $35 and can be booked from 3 days to 6 months in advance.
Overland driving is allowed on designated routes and on a regulated scale. The beauty of this destination is you can drive right up to the sandy shore.
5. Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia
Jekyll Island Campground is ideal for RV campers. There are 167 hookup sites with full amenities to cater to all your RV camping needs.
We are talking about clean restrooms, hot-water showers, laundry facilities, a campground store, WIFI, electrical and sewer hookups, and nearby restaurants for those who want to indulge in some luxury.
12 other sites have been set aside for wild campers, and they get offered on a first-come-first-served basis. Most camping sites are large enough to accommodate large rigs and are in wooded places for privacy.
You can access the famous Driftwood Beach (less than half a mile from the campground) in multiple ways.
Hiking, cycling, fishing, swimming, and other water sports are allowed on this beach. There is a pier and picnic area close to the beach. Pets are allowed under certain conditions.
Prices range from $36 per night for primitive campsites to $51 for full hook-up.
6. Hammocks Beach State Park Bear Island, North Carolina
If you love wild camping, this is the best beach to visit on the East Coast. Hammocks Beach State Park is the least accessible beach on this list.
Bear Island is only accessible by ferry, canoe, or kayak; RVs (or any motorized vehicle) cannot access this island. The 4-mile-long barrier island features large dunes, a rugged coastline, and a diverse wildlife habitat.
The beach is beautiful, and the secluded camping sites ensure you camp in privacy. Only 14 campsites are present here, hence book in advance.
Do not expect to find luxurious amenities to support your stay – this is a great spot for those with camping experience who love getting in touch with nature.
The soft sands, stunning maritime forest, and the glamorous sunset over the dunes make this location memorable for people who do not fear camping off-grid. Hunting, camping, paddling, hiking, and swimming are popular activities here.
Initially, the island was owned by Dr. William Sharpe (A neurosurgeon and famous philanthropist) as his retirement home. He later donated the land to the North Carolina Teachers Association, which subsequently opened the place to the public.
7. Hampton Beach State Park, New Hampshire
Hamptons Beach State Park is large and contains numerous recreational amenities to keep you preoccupied during your visit. Although it is open to visitors all year round, the RV campground section opens from May to October.
Whale watching, swimming, fishing, picnicking, hiking, camping, and boating are some of the activities people engage in here.
The RV sites have full electrical and sewer hookups. It is hard to get reservations here; hence book in advance. The ocean breeze in the evening and the beautiful soft, white sands will make for a memorable visit.
There are restaurants close by and many free parking spaces. It is a great place to visit with family as there are numerous recreational and educational activities the kids can indulge in.
Pets are only allowed within the state park on specific dates of the year.
8. Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina
Bird lovers will have a great time at Huntington Beach State Park. Over 300 bird species have been documented within this park.
The beach is an open, 3-mile stretch ideal for running, hiking, and lounging. The wild Huntington State Park landscape makes this location one of the most recognizable and popular places on the East Coast.
Camping is popular with 173 campsites, 66 reserved for RV full hookup. Saltwater fishing, boating, swimming, bird watching, hiking, and geo-caching are popular sports here.
The quarter-mile hiking trail (Kerrigan) takes you through the freshwater lagoon and the saltmarsh (preserved under the South Carolina Heritage Trust Program).
Boardwalks along the trail allow you to experience wildlife from a bird’s view. Pets are allowed in the park under certain conditions and guidelines.
9. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
Note that overnight camping is not allowed on this beach. However, there are several camping options close by, including Nickerson State Park and Wellfleet Hollow Campground. With over 40 miles of beautiful, soft, sandy beach, Cape Cod National Seashore is among the best beaches to visit in Massachusetts.
There are hiking trails and bogs to explore, unaltered natural beauty, and a picturesque beachfront line. Swimming, hiking, fishing, paddling, and overland beach driving are popular activities here.
Pets are allowed on the beach under regulation based on the time of the year.
People who love visiting historical places can explore the lighthouse and other cultural centers in this location. Fishing, boating, swimming, bird watching, biking, geo-caching, and hiking are popular activities within the park. Hiking trails are well-marked and paved.
10. First Landing State Park, Virginia
First Landing State Park beach is popular, especially over the weekends. Parking can be a problem; people get turned away when the beach is at capacity. This is the location where the colonists first landed in 1607, hence the name. It is currently a national natural landmark with a lot of historical significance.
There are 20 miles of hiking trails and other recreational activities to explore. Lagoons, sheltered maritime forests, swamps, exhibition centers, amphitheaters, pavilions, and an outdoor courtyard are some of the places you can visit.
The beach itself is a 1.5- mile stretch fronting the Chesapeake Bay. Swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking are popular activities here. When boating, beware of large cargo ships that pass through here.
Campers have the option of reserving cabins, yurts, and tents offered on a first-come-first-served or reservation basis. Campsites are available from the first Friday in March through until the first Monday in December.
Want More Beach Inspiration?
Whether you’re beach camping lovers or simply looking for the perfect place to pitch your beach tent for the day, you may also love these incredible US beach round-ups:
- Best Family Beaches in Florida
- 15 Brilliant Beaches on the Gulf Coast
- Oregon’s Best Coastal Towns for a Family Vacation
- 8 Beautiful Beaches in O’ahu
And to help you prepare for your camping trip with kids, you’ll want to check out these guides:
- Ultimate Guide to Beach and Desert Camping (with packing list)
- Essential Camping Gear for Babies
- Fun Camping Activities for Kids to Keep Them Involved
- How to Go Hammock Camping With Kids
- Hot Weather Camping Hacks To Keep Your Cool
- Winter Camping Tips to Help You Stay Warm
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