Can You Camp on the Shores of an Ocean?

If you’ve been wanting to camp near oceans, you’ve probably wondered, “Can I camp on the shores of an ocean?”

Unfortunately, you can’t just put up a tent and camp on any ocean shore. Only specific beaches allow camping on or near ocean shores.

If you want to schedule a beach camping trip, there are a few things you need to be aware of.

Can You Legally Camp on the Shores of an Ocean?

While plenty of ocean shores allow beach camping, there are many beaches where camping isn’t allowed.

They may restrict camping due to the beach’s popularity or a poor history of allowing camping.

Luckily, just about every state with an ocean shoreline has camping with ocean shores; it just takes a bit of research to find them.

Generally speaking, however, it is illegal to camp directly on the beach unless it’s stated otherwise. Even with the beaches that allow camping, you will often set up camp past the shore.

Beaches have to be somewhat strict about camping to keep the environment safe.

People tend to leave behind a lot of waste, and this waste can multiply when thousands of people camp year after year.

Additionally, it can be unsafe for humans to camp on the shore of an ocean without prior knowledge or experience. Because ocean winds can be strong, tents can easily blow over.

Some locations have tides that cover almost the entire shore, making it difficult to camp overnight.

If you do find a great camping spot on the shores of an ocean, be sure to pick up any waste left behind.

Take good care of it not only to ensure that they continue to allow campers but to care for the environment.

Planning a Camping Trip on the Shores of the Ocean

Searching the internet will probably be your best bet to find beaches that allow camping on the shore.

Some of these campsites get booked months in advance, so you’ll need to do your research early.

Once you pick the ideal time frame and location, you can use those keywords in your internet search to find the best beaches for camping.

Suppose you struggle to choose between a few beaches, search reviews of the campsite.

More than likely, bloggers or travel sites will have detailed reviews, activities, and local attractions nearby.

By utilizing these details to plan your camping vacation, you can be well-prepared and find the perfect spot.

Tips For Camping on the Shores of an Ocean

Below are some tips to consider:

  • Make sure to have a flashlight on hand when leaving your tent at night.
  • It’s important to not swim in the ocean at night. Because it’s harder to see in the darkness, you may miss animals or rip currents that could injure you or result in death.
  • Make sure to bring bug spray because bugs tend to swarm areas near water. Also, bring sunscreen and protect yourself from the sun.

Best Places to Camp On or Near the Shores of an Ocean

Here are some of the best places to camp near the shores of an ocean within the United States.

Alabama: Gulf State Park

The Gulf State Park in Alabama contains two miles of white-sand beaches and clear blue ocean views.

They offer primitive camping and have RV hookups about a mile and a half from the shore.

You’ll have everything you need nearby with their multiple bathhouses, laundry facilities, and camp store.

Activities include 28 miles of hiking trails, a swimming pool, a nature center, tennis courts, horseshoe courts, and volleyball courts.

There are nearly 500 large campsites with hookups that allow tents or RVs.

California: Sonoma Coast State Park

California is famous for its gorgeous beaches and cool nights, creating the perfect environment for camping.

At Sonoma Coast State Park, you can camp at one of 27 developed campsites that are located adjacent to the beach.

Some nearby beaches allow dogs and horses, while others may be closed to protect nesting sites and other wildlife.

Its scenic beaches feature rugged headlands, secluded coves, and a view of stunning sunsets.

Florida: Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park has two campgrounds within their park that are located on islands. To get to these beaches, you have to travel by boat.

  • Boca Chita Key is famous for its breathtaking waterfront views and grassy camping areas. While bathrooms are available, there are no showers, sinks, or drinking water.
  • Elliot Key is a bigger island that contains showers, sinks, and drinking water. They also have picnic tables and grills available for campers.

While leashed pets are allowed at Elliott Key, only service animals will be permitted at Boca Chita Key.

Camping on either island is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and tents must be within the designated areas.

Georgia: Jekyll Island Campground

Jekyll Island Campground offers camping near Driftwood Beach. While the beach is about half of a mile from the campground, this unique scenery is worth the short walk.

As the name suggests, Driftwood Beach features driftwood trees all along the shore.

When you step foot on this beach, you’ll feel as if you’ve entered another world with the fallen trees and rocky shoreline.

The campsite offers free WiFi, laundry facilities, bathhouses with toilets and showers, and a general store.

You can also spend some time at the fishing pier or look at unique birds at the bird sanctuary.

Pets are allowed for a small fee.

Hawaii: Polihale State Park

Polihale State Park offers oceanside camping in gorgeous tropical scenery. They offer picnic tables, pavilions, restrooms, and showers nearby your campsite.

Enjoy swimming, fishing, and relaxing at the beach while watching colorful sunsets and a view of the high sea cliffs of the Nāpali Coast.

Louisiana: Grand Isle State Park

At Grand Isle State Park, you can choose from camping in a tent, RV, and even glamping just a few steps away from the Gulf of Mexico.

Enjoy boating, paddle boating, fishing, and hiking during the day before snuggling up near the ocean at night.

Because of the unique location, you can enjoy various types of wildlife, specifically the numerous bird species.

Maryland: Assateague Island

For a truly unforgettable experience camping on the shores of an ocean, look no further than Assateague Island in Maryland.

Because campers will be setting up tents in the sand, bring long steaks for maximum support. They also request that all campers bring firewood bought locally.

Depending on whether you’ll be staying in a vehicle or a tent, you can choose from oceanside walk-ins or oceanside drive-ins.

If sleeping in a tent, you’ll be about 100-200 feet away from parking.

Each site has picnic tables, toilets, showers, and drinking water.

North Carolina: Portsmouth Island, Outer Banks

Portsmouth Island in North Carolina is a 13-mile-long island that you can only reach by boat or ferry.

This unique island is an off-the-beaten-path type of location, with no residential homes or businesses.

Adored by history-lovers, this small island has a maintained village from the 1900s that visitors can walk through and enjoy.

Rather than having separate campsites, visitors can choose any place they like to set up camp. You may also choose to stay in one of the cottages near the shore.

Oregon: Tillicum Beach Campground

If you choose to camp at Tillicum Beach Campground, you can choose from 61 campsites with ocean views.

While there are restrooms and drinking water, there are no showers. Each site has a picnic table and campfire ring, and some locations offer water and electric hookups.

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach State Park

While there is no camping on the shores of the ocean, most of the campsites within Myrtle Beach State Park are just steps away from the beach access.

They offer tent camping, RV camping, or staying in one of the cabins. Nearby, you will find laundry facilities, showers, bathrooms, and a playground.

You can enjoy free WiFi during your stay and enjoy nearby activities, including fishing, swimming, biking, and hiking.

Virginia: North Landing Beach Campground

North Landing Beach Campground in Virginia is more than just a campsite – it’s actually a resort.

Campers can spend time on the private beach or partake in one of the many on-site activities and attractions.

They have 120 RV sites and 63 cottages, some of which are on the shore.

Some unique activities include weekend movie nights, mini-golf, and hitting balls at the batting cage. You can also rent kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes.

The campsite offers free WiFi, cable, TV, a fitness center, private bathrooms and showers, a store, a pizza parlor, and an ice cream shop.

Final Thoughts

While it is illegal to set up a tent on any beach, you can camp on the ocean’s shores in some locations.

Many places have campsites less than a mile from the beach to protect wildlife and visitors.

Places such as Portsmouth Island in North Carolina allow 13 miles of space where you can camp on the shores of an ocean, though it is more primitive.

For a beach camping trip with plenty of amenities, North Landing Beach Campground offers the joy of the great outdoors paired with a resort-style atmosphere.

To find the perfect spot where you can camp on the shores of an ocean, plan ahead to get reservations before they run out.

Other articles you may also like: