You’ll be happy to know you don’t need to stay at a pricey four-star resort to enjoy waking up to the sound of the surf.
There’s a cheaper (and arguably way more awesome) way to sleep by the sea—just pitch your tent at one of the following amazing beach campsites. You may not be able to get room service, but we have a feeling you’ll be okay with that.
Anapaca Island, California
Catch a boat ride to Anapaca Island then hike in (and up the 157 steps) to one of only seven campsites tucked away on this little respite. The campsite is on the rugged side. For instance, there is no shade on the island and you have to BYO drinking water—but it has quite possibly the most Instragrammable campsite views in the whole country. There are trails to explore, a lighthouse to check out, and cliffs to peer over—and when the day visitors leave at night, you’ll practically have the entire island to yourself.
Olympic National Park, Washington
If ruggedness, wilderness, and wildlife are what you’re after, hurry to Kalaloch Campground in Washington’s Olympic National Park. The campsite offers the best of Pacific Northwest Camping—incredible coastal forest, a mile-long beach to explore, and sunsets that will blow your mind. From late spring to early fall, you may even catch a glimpse of a migrating whale from your tent flap.
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, pitch your tent along the Assateague Island National seashore. You’ll want to spend as little time as possible inside your tent, since you’ll be scouring the horizon for a chance to spot some of the wild horses that call the island home. We know what you’re thinking—yes, this is real life. Escape the crowds by booking one of the hike-in or paddle-access backcountry oceanside camping sites. Don’t forget the bug spray—the flies can be relentless in the summer.
Ninilchik State Recreation Area, Alaska
When you think of camping by the beach, Alaska probably isn’t the first place that pops into your mind—but hear us out. If you want a beachside camping experience like no other, this is it. With mountains looming in the distance and eagles soaring overhead, this is the perfect place to experience Mother Nature’s finest work. When the tide recedes, the beach combing is second to none.
Bahia Honda State Park, Florida
Here’s an option for those seeking warmer waters: nab a spacious waterfront site in the Sandspur Camping Area along this 500-acre park and take in the Florida Keys as they ought to be enjoyed. Try to spot the fish jumping out of water in the harbor, then head over to one of the beaches to do a little snorkeling. This is beach camping at its finest.
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
Feel the impossibly soft white sand between your toes the moment you step out of your tent on Padre Island’s North Beach campground. With the Gulf of Mexico in front of you and white sand dunes behind, you’ll be forgiven if you mistake your campsite for paradise. North Beach is a primitive campsite, which many believe is exactly how camping on the beach should be experienced.
Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hawaii
You’ve never experienced Maui’s Road to Hana quite like this before. Hop out of the car and set up camp on the black volcanic sand beach. Explore the lava arch and plan a hike to experience the lava caves up close and personal. We probably don’t need to remind you, but definitely remember to bring your bathing suit to this one.