RV parks and public lands dot the nation’s oceanfront real estate, but when it comes to the value and likelihood of a natural beachfront camping experience, it’s public parks that tend to provide the best opportunities to watch the local wildlife, enjoy the scenery, and not break the bank.
Many of the best RV beach campgrounds aren’t inches from the tide, though plenty of that exists too. Occasionally, the ocean will be across a state park street or a boardwalk through the dunes. In certain states, you’ll always be a short walk or bike ride from the ocean, while others—like New Jersey—won’t have any RV parks on the beach. From small city parks to national seashores, here are some of the best places to camp ocean-side across the U.S.
Tips for RV Beach Camping
When you’re beach camping, these rules can make all the difference and keep you safe.
- Scout Ahead. Make sure the sand feels strong enough to support a vehicle. Loose sand often equates to stuck tires, and though the water may seem far away at any given moment, the difference between low tide and high tide can vary dramatically as the day goes on. Getting stuck is bad enough, but racing against the tide, hoping you can free your rig quickly, isn’t exactly a beachy experience.
- Check the Tides, Check the Weather. It’s important to know how high the tide will rise throughout the day—there are two high tides every 24 hours—or be aware of how an incoming storm may affect your ability to drive back off the sand.
- Check With Local Officials. If you’re at a state park, park rangers and staff will often make sure you’re aware of any particularly pertinent considerations, but if they don’t, it never hurts to ask.
- Air Down Your Tires. While not always necessary, leave some air out of your tires to make it easier for your vehicle to get the traction it needs to get back off the sand. Just be sure to fill them back up as soon as possible once you’re back on regular roads, so you don’t damage your wheels or run into issues with braking.
- Stay Off the Dunes. These natural barriers protect the environment and wildlife. Most areas post signage telling you to stay off of the dunes. Regardless if there’s a posted sign, stay off of the dunes.
- Keep It Clean. Don’t leave litter behind (and feel free to pick some up if you can). For beaches where fires are permitted, don’t burn items like pallets, which can leave behind nails.
- Be Prepared. If you plan on driving in sand, at a bare minimum you should have a shovel, tow rope, and boards in case you get stuck. It’s a good idea to also travel with a tire pressure gauge, air pump, spare tire, and extra water or coolant. Other safety items to consider include a flashlight, fire extinguisher, and bumper jack.
RV Beach Camping in Washington
Most of Washington’s beachfront camping occurs on the Salish Sea (the water that surrounds the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands), and Pacific Coast camping is at times separated from the water by natural dunes.
RV Beach Camping in Oregon
Oregon has a spectacular beachfront, and the entire coastline is public property. But finding a spot to camp directly on the beach is difficult. Fires are permitted on most beaches, so camping a few minutes away from the water isn’t the worst tradeoff.
It’s not impossible to find beachside RV camping in Oregon, but it’s largely in private RV parks like Beachfront RV Park in Brookings.
Harris Beach and Nehalem State Park are particularly good spots to see the full splendor of the coast, but thanks to U.S. Route 101, you can traverse almost the entirety of the state from north to south with the Pacific Ocean in view.
RV Beach Camping in California
With 840 miles of coastline, there’s no shortage of beachfront camping available in the Golden State. Whether you prefer the lonelier areas north of San Francisco or the guaranteed sunshine of Southern California, with a little planning, you’ll be able to find the perfect surf and sand for you.
RV Beach Camping in Texas
Texas has more beachfront camping than any other state except for Florida. Sure, it’s technically not oceanfront (given that Texas’ access to saltwater comes in the form of the Gulf of Mexico), but you can snag that perfect combination of ocean view and low cost. Campendium users love North and South Beach in Corpus Christi.
RV Beach Camping in Louisiana
Louisiana is generous enough to put up campers on many of its beaches for free. Whether you have your eyes set on boondocking on public beaches like the free Rutherford Beach or the highly-recommended Burns Point Park (which has hookups), beachcombing the Bayou State has something for you.
RV Beach Camping in Mississippi
With less shoreline than any other Gulf Coast state, it’s no surprise that Mississippi has fewer options for camping, too. Still, campgrounds like Buccaneer State Park will get you close (if you’re lucky enough to get a spot separated from the Gulf by a two-lane road), and plenty of other places, like Shepard State Park, put you within a short drive.
RV Beach Camping in Alabama
Alabama boasts a shoreline that’s slightly longer than Mississippi’s, with a similar lack of places to camp directly on the beach. But a handful of private RV parks and public campgrounds make it possible to camp at least within walking distance of the Gulf of Mexico. Book a stay at Gulf State Park or Bay Breeze RV on the Bay—both are rated five stars by Campendium users.
RV Beach Camping in Florida
While the primary camping options in Florida can make it a little daunting if you’re used to flexibility, with a little effort, there’s no place better to enjoy a traditional beachcomber experience than the Sunshine State.
RV Beach Camping in Georgia
The majority of beach camping in the Peach State is restricted to tenters; options are largely limited to a county park on Jekyll Island and a private RV park on Tybee Island, neither of which are directly on the water.
RV Beach Camping in South Carolina
A string of state parks along the South Carolina coast provide beach camping. Edisto Beach offers spots adjacent to the dunes separating your RV from the water, and Hunting Island provides shaded camping near a pristine sandy beach. South Carolina’s state park system doesn’t allow alcoholic beverages in any of its parks.
RV Beach Camping in North Carolina
North Carolina’s best beach camping happens near its two national seashores: Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout, also known as the Outer Banks. Tourists flock to the area for the public lands where you can spot shorebirds, feral horses, sharks, and more.
RV Beach Camping in Virginia
Virginia is known for hard-to-reach beaches on the Atlantic side, but there’s ample opportunity to camp on the Chesapeake Bay (typically at private RV parks). Expect most beaches to be just across the street or a little ways from your actual campsite, like the sites at First Landing State Park Campground in Virginia Beach. You can also be adventurous and camp for free, in a parking lot, halfway across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on South Thimble Island.
RV Beach Camping in Maryland
A huge swath of available beachfront property is part of Assateague Island National Seashore. You won’t find a more beachy experience than camping in the park’s Oceanside Campground, and an accompanying state park to the north provides even more options.
RV Beach Camping in Delaware
Destinations like Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach are popular for beachgoers, but camping options are severely limited for those who’d like ocean views. Two state parks, Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore, offer beach camping opportunities.
RV Beach Camping in New York
If you want to find the ocean in the Empire State, you have to drive through New York City or its surrounding freeways. Should you make the trek across the skyline and onto Long Island, you’ll be rewarded with several opportunities for waterfront camping—though many of these campsites require fully self-contained units. Look at Montauk or Shinnecock East county parks for reservations.
RV Beach Camping in Connecticut
While actual beachfront camping is unheard of in Connecticut, a few state parks—including Hammonasset—are located within walking distance of the beach.
RV Beach Camping in Rhode Island
Despite its 400 miles of coastline, beachfront camping is a rarity in Rhode Island. There are a few notable exceptions, such as Fort Getty Campground.
RV Beach Camping in Massachusetts
The Bay State offers a good chance at finding some truly great, sand and sun-filled camping in the New England region.
For those that meet the regulations, Race Point ORV Beach Camping features rubber in the sand, salt spray on your windshield, and epic ocean views. To stay here, you need a fully self-contained vehicle (no trailers) and a permit. You’ll also need to air down your tires, dump your tanks (full or not) at specific intervals, and meet minimum tire size regulations. The full list of rules can be found on the NPS website for Cape Cod National Seashore.
For those looking to avoid the traffic to Cape Cod, Winter Island Park is a solid city park option in Salem.
RV Beach Camping in New Hampshire
If you want to experience the oceanfront boardwalk towns in New Hampshire, Hampton Beach State Park promises waterfront camping along sandy beaches.
RV Beach Camping in Maine
The islands north and east of Portland and Freeport, Maine, are served primarily by private RV parks, but local and national public campgrounds exist from Boothbay to Bar Harbor, including those at Acadia National Park.
Countless beaches offer epic RV camping across the U.S.—and this list doesn’t even include the beaches of the Great Lakes, which boast national lakeshores and camping near just about every stretch of water.