Camping / Kayak & Canoe

Sebastian Inlet: Spring getaway for camping, paddle sports, wildlife

aerial of the sebastian inlet

Sebastian Inlet (Photo by John Massung, IndianRiverByAir.com)

The Sebastian Inlet area has long been a favorite destination for family and friends, featuring two outstanding public campgrounds with unrestricted access to the Indian River Lagoon, pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and a dose of Florida coastal history.

There are no condos anywhere near the three miles of beachfront within Sebastian Inlet State Park, a haven for surfers seeking the best breaks on the Florida coast.

The fishing is outstanding, inshore and offshore, thanks to a steady flow of gamefish riding currents through the inlet to feed at endless clam beds, oyster bars, seagrass beds and tidal wetlands in the lagoon.

Wildlife abounds from the protected rookeries of Pelican Island, the nation’s oldest bird refuge, and the brackish tributaries that offer winter refuge to manatees.

Boating is a symbol of life here. Kayaks, canoes, fishing craft, pontoon boats and the occasional paddle board snaking its way along the shoreline.

Long Point Park

Aerial photo of Long Point Park, Brevard County, FL

Long Point Park. (Photo by John Massung, IndianRiverbyAir.com)

Although Sebastian Inlet State Park is probably the best-known camping destination, I usually drive an extra mile north into Brevard County to Long Point Park, an 85-acre island in the lagoon with 113 waterfront campsites for tents, RVs and travel trailers, each with hookups for water and electric.

Launch your kayak from your own campsite, or a motor boat from the park’s ramp. Anchor in shallow water behind your tent.

On the island’s interior, there are an additional 57 campsites, some with full hookups.

Bring your own shade, a must-have accessory towards summer, when you can still experience a refreshing sea breeze. Food, beer and bait is available at a nearby convenience store.

Camping fees are $28 per night (plus tax) and reservations can be made up to one year in advance by phone, 321-952-4532, or online.

Sebastian Inlet State Park

Aerial photo of campground at Sebastian Inlet State Park.

Campground at Sebastian Inlet State Park. (Photo by John Massung)

The state park’s 51 renovated campsites overlook the inlet, accommodating both RVs and tents. Much of the shade evident in the old campground is gone, but new shade has rapidly taken root, just not as much.

All sites have water and electric, but no sewer hookups. There is a dump station on site, and rest rooms with showers are convenient to all campers. A camp store sells the basics, including bait for fishing.

Sebastian Inlet State Park is divided into two sectors. The campground entrance is south of the inlet, and it has its own boat ramp. Another boat ramp is available at the park’s marina on north side of the inlet, primary destination for day visitors.

A popular fishing catwalk on the south side of the inlet is currently closed, but the north jetty still rocks. (There’s a new restaurant there, too!)

Campsites may be reserved up to 11 months in advance by phone (800) 326-3521 or online at ReserveAmerica.com for $28 per night (plus tax).

Limited primitive camping is also available in the park and on spoil islands in the lagoon. Call 321-724-5424 for more information.

Things to Do near Sebastian Inlet

White Pelicans on Pelican IslandPelican Island President Teddy Roosevelt, alarmed by the slaughter of pelicans and egrets for their plumage, signed an executive order in 1903 declaring Pelican Island a bird sanctuary. More than 30 species of birds use the island, and 16 species nest here, including the brown pelican, wood stork, several varieties of egrets and herons, and the American oystercatcher. The island can only be approached by water but can be viewed from an observation tower accessible via a boardwalk trail from the visitor’s are on State Road A1A south of the inlet. Read more: Pelican Island: Oldest bird sanctuary in U.S.

McLarty Treasure Museum (video) — South of the inlet is the beach site of a 1715 Spanish Fleet wreck survivor’s camp. The museum features artifacts, displays, and an observation deck that overlooks the ocean. Salvagers continue to work the ocean bottom offshore, seeking gold, silver, and the “Queen’s jewels” lost to the sea and its sandy shores. The museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $2.

Sebastian Fishing Museum (video) — Commemorates three of Sebastian’s early families that operated fish houses. Inside you will find a replica of an original fish house and dock. A homemade fishing boat, nets, fishing gear, and photos of fishing in the lagoon are also on display. The museum is inside the state park near the campground and is open daily. Admission is free with park admission (or campsite reservation).

Comfortable "old world" interior greats you inside the Sebastian Beach Inn.Sebastian Beach InnYou would be remiss if you visited this area and didn’t stop at the Sebastian Beach Inn, about 5 miles north of the inlet on the ocean side. The inn is an old coastal watch station, dating back to the 1800s. Today, it’s a funky beachfront bar and grill with an outdoor deck. The inn’s history is on display throughout with stories, paintings and historic photographs. Read more: Sebastian Beach Inn: Beach bar evokes coastal history

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park — The mouth of the St. Sebastian River is almost directly across the Indian River Lagoon from the inlet. A short paddle up the river will take you into the 22,000-acre St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, where you can hike on 60 miles of trails. Mountain bikers can gain land access via the Fellsmere entrance to the park. The park also offers some outstanding primitive camping. Read more: Roughing it: St. Sebastian River Preserve

If you go:

From I-95 Exit 156 (Sebastian-Fellsmere), go east to County Road 510. Turn right on 510 and continue east through Wabasso to State Road A1A, then turn north. The inlet is about 7 miles north on A1A.

Related links:

Editors’ Note: This article has been revised since the original version was published in 2010.   The information provided here was updated in March 2015.  Another version was published on March 8, 2015 in South Florida Sun-Sentinel Travel and Orlando Sentinel Travel.

The aerial photographs on this page were provided courtesy of John Massung, whose powerful images can be viewed at IndianRiverByAir.com. John shoots his photographs from a powered parachute. 

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7 Comments

  1. The pictures are very nice and when my relatives come for the summer I’m planning on taking them there for camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking and swimming, however I’ve been to several state park on Homestead, Florida and they do have alligators and crocodiles swimming and sunbathing on the banks of the canals. I always look at the water although they are crystal clear before I jump in in the water because I don’t want to be alligator food. Do you have alligators and crocodiles in your beaches and lagoon?

    • Hi Betty!

      The parks in this article are on barrier islands surrounded by saltwater, and while alligators proliferate in freshwater wildlife preserves near here, they are unlikely to roam this far. Alligators can be found almost anywhere in Florida near fresh water. The more aggressive crocodile, on the other hand, is generally isolated to the brackish habitat of the southern Everglades. For piece of mind, I suggest you take a few minutes to read this article: Living with alligators: A Florida reality

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  6. We found the no see ums to be just awful at Sebastian Inlet.
    apparently this is the norm there…so be prepared with LOTS of repellent.

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