5 US beaches you can camp at and what you should pack

Camping on the beach is a unique way to experience the ocean and connect to nature. Campers can be close to the water, watch the sunrise and sunset and listen to the sound of the waves. Be aware that camping overnight on public beaches is typically illegal. Only a few beaches, primarily within state parks, allow overnight camping and may require permits. So make sure you research your beach destination before you pitch a tent – and don’t worry, these are usually areas of natural beauty that are off the beaten path. Here are five that you should put on your list:

Bahia Honda State Park, Florida

Camp at this gorgeous Florida Keys state park. (iStock)

If you are planning a trip to the Florida Keys, consider camping some nights at Bahia Honda State Park. This park is known for its iconic Florida Keys scenery, sandy beaches, gin-clear waters and magnificent sunsets. The park is an excellent place to observe wading birds and shorebirds and introduces nature lovers to the island’s plants and animals. Trip Advisor reviews say it is one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys, so the camping spots tend to fill quickly. Camping fees are $36 per night plus tax, a nonrefundable $6.70 reservation fee and a $7 nightly utility fee for RVs.

You can also explore the state park’s natural beauty for the day. The park charges $8 per vehicle (two to eight people) or $2.50 for pedestrians and bicyclists. You can find the perfect Florida Keys accommodations at exclusive rates by visiting ShareItTravel’s global hotel booking platform.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Bird watchers will love the view at Padre Island National Seashore. (iStock)

Padre Island National Seashore is a national park with about 66 miles of undeveloped beaches and natural habitat. Beyond the natural beauty of the seashore, Padre Island is also a bird lover’s paradise. Over 380 species call the national seashore home sometime during the year, making it an ideal place to observe birds and check off new species on your list. The island has RV camping and three primitive campsites. Park entrance fees are required year-round for all areas of the park. Camping and boat ramp fees are not covered by park entrance passes and are charged in addition.  

Hoffmaster State Park: Muskegon, Michigan

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, is situated on three miles of stunning Lake Michigan shoreline.  (iStock)

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, located in Muskegon, is situated on three miles of the stunning Lake Michigan shoreline and features a modern campground, towering dunes, 10 miles of scenic trails and the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center. One of the park’s main attractions is the dune climb along the Dune Overlook Trail, an approximately half-mile round trip climb with about 220 steps and benches. Camping fees start at $30 per night for water and toilet access sites. 

If you are planning to drive around Lake Michigan, a day pass is a great alternative. You can find accommodation in nearby Spring Lake or Muskegon. When you sign up for membership, you can find exclusive and unpublished hotel rates of up to 50% off on ShareItTravel’s global hotel booking platform.

Big Sur, California

Enjoy the beauty of Big Sur with a camping trip. (iStock)

Bug Sur is one of the most unforgettable stretches of the California coastline, boasting incredible landscapes, rugged cliffs and serene coastal beauty. Make reservations to pitch a tent at the several campsites available at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Fees start at $50 a night. The campgrounds have ample shade provided by Redwood and Sycamore trees, an 80-foot waterfall flowing from granite cliffs into the ocean, and panoramic coastline views.

If you plan on going on a driving tour of the Big Sur coastline. In that case, you can stop at any of the several beautiful coastal towns along the way and book a night at a hotel at exclusive rates by visiting ShareItTravel’s global hotel booking platform. 

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

For an East Coast beach experience, try the beautiful Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. (iStock)

For an East Coast beach experience, try the beautiful Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. This state park is a 48,000-acre preserved stretch of coastal wilderness on a barrier island along the Atlantic. This park is famous for its wild horses and miles of pristine beaches. Park fees start at $25 with overnight camping fees beginning at $40.

Once you’ve chosen your camping destination, make sure to pack these six essentials to make your time on the beach comfortable:

Pack a specialty beach towel that dries fast. (Nomadix)

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Buy it at Scheel’s

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This fast-drying towel, available for less than $40 at multiple retailers, is excellent for beach camping. The towel is super absorbent, dries quickly and is sand-resistant.

This is the only sunshade you need. (Amazon)

Buy it at Amazon

Buy it at Dick’s Sporting Goods

Shibumi Shade Mini, on sale for less than $200 at several retailers, is the perfect beach shade because it is lightweight, easy to assemble and won’t break or blow away in high winds.

Comfortable beach chairs are essential. (Amazon)

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Buy it at Tommy Bahama

Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Beach Chairs are comfortable and convenient. They feature an insulated cooler pouch, drink holder, pillow and storage pouch. They are on sale for less than $90 at multiple places.  

Consider a tent that reduced heat for the summer. (Walmart)

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Buy it at Dick’s Sporting Goods

Coleman’s Dark Room Skydome four-person tent is quick to set up and features Dark Room technology to block 90% of sunlight, keeping your tent cooler for longer. It is on sale for less than $150 at multiple retailers.

Don’t forget to pack insect repellant and sun protection. (Walmart)

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Heading to the beach means packing sun protection and insect repellent. What not try an all-in-one like this Bullfrog Mosquito Coast Sunscreen SPF 50 Insect Repellent Spray. This two-in-one product combines broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen with a DEET-free insect repellent. The spray is water-resistant and is made with aloe and vitamin E to soothe and moisturize the skin; you get up to eight hours of insect repellency. Buy it for less than $12 at multiple retailers.

Add a blanket to keep the sand away. (Walmart)

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Buy it at Amazon

Pack a beach blanket like this oversized sandproof, waterproof mat, on sale for less than $15 at Walmart,  or a more comfortable rest. This beach blanket is made of nylon fabric and has four ground stakes to keep it firmly in the ground.

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