Beach camping in Florida is living the dream.
Gentle breezes and swaying palms, shorebirds soaring, tiny crabs scurrying with every incoming wave. Not to mention the clear night sky.
Our favorite beaches for camping in Florida are a dream come true.
Effective January 1, 2024, Florida residents will have a 30-day head start to book campsites at Florida State Parks, and the reservation window will be reduced to 10 months for non-residents. Reservation windows vary with county parks listed here. Some offer local residents a courtesy window.
Camping on the No. 1 beach in the USA
St. George Island State Park (RV/tent)
Near Apalachicola on Florida’s Panhandle
I first visited this state park when it opened in the 1980s, and the memories are still with me. The park’s 9 miles of white-sand beaches are stunning. Don’t take my word for it, ask Dr. Beach, who ranked St. George Island State Park the No. 1 beach in America in 2023.
The campground is laid out behind a series of majestic dunes, a short walk to the Gulf of Mexico.
There are 60 RV and tent sites with electric and water, six with concrete pads. On the bay side, there are two launch points for your kayaks.
Camping fee is $24 per night plus a daily $7 utilities fee, taxes and a one-time $6.70 booking fee. Day-use fee is $6 per vehicle.
Curry Hammock State Park (RV/tent)
In the Florida Keys near Marathon
Curry Hammock State Park is our favorite destination for beach camping in the Florida Keys with the untimely demise of the nearby campground at Long Key State Park, wiped out by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Miraculously, Curry Hammock survived.
Curry Hammock sites 7 through 19, 21 and 22 are on the beach, and the remaining 14 sites are very close. The ocean is shallow, the surf mild and currents are weak most days, making it ideal for families with small children.
Kayaks and canoes can be launched from the campground, and the day-use beach area is popular with kite-boarders. Sites are $36 per night plus a $7 daily utilities fee for RVs, taxes and a one-time $6.70 reservation fee.
Campsite reservations here are hard to get, so be persistent and check frequently for cancellations.
Read this story: Curry Hammock State Park: Great beach camping, kayaking
Huguenot Memorial Park (RV/tent)
This sandy campground is on the windswept edge of Jacksonville, gateway to the pristine Talbot Islands. A short walk past the dunes is a mile-long beach, open fully to the Atlantic Ocean, making it a popular destination for surfers and kite boarders.
The St. Johns River and the Mayport Naval Station border the campground on south, and a quiet cove off the Fort George Inlet on the north side offers access to backcountry kayaking.
Electric hookups only. Retrieve water Tent sites are $22.70; RV sites, $27.54, including tax and electric. Pet fee is $5.38 extra per pet, per day.
Turtle Beach Campground (RV or tent)
Siesta Key near Sarasota
I came across this little gem while visiting a friend on Siesta Key a few years ago.
Turtle Beach had been a private campground since the 1920s, but it was acquired by Sarasota County in 2006 as an expansion of adjacent Turtle Beach County Park.
The campground is a narrow sliver wedged between the park and a residential area with 39 shaded RV and tent sites, full hookups and free Wi-Fi. The campground road runs down the middle — with direct access to the beach at the end.
A kayak launch is located in the adjacent park. The nightly rate is $42-$51, depending on the season, with $5-$7 add-ons for weekends and holidays. No pets allowed.
Jetty Park Campground (RV, tent, cabins)
Port Canaveral, near Cocoa Beach
Camping and cabin sites at this Brevard County Park are within a block of the broad and hard-packed beach, where you can ride a fat-tire bike for miles.
If you’re lucky and there’s a rocket launch from the space center, this is THE place to be.
RV sites have water and electric hookups; only 13 have sewer hookups. Rustic tent sites have water. The four-person cabins are small but functional with a patio, a grill, picnic table, A/C, fridge and bathroom. No kitchens or showers, but there is a central bathhouse.
Cabins are $140. Primitive tent sites are $24 off-season, $34 in-season (Nov. 15-Apr. 15). RV sites with full hookups are $45-54 in off-season and $55-$64 in-season.
Jetty Park Campground, 9035 Campground Circle, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920. Park office: 321-783-7111. For reservations, call 321-783-7111.
Read this story: Beachfront cabins & camping in Cape Canaveral
Fort De Soto’s tent campground (Tents/pop-ups/vans)
Tierra Verde near St. Petersburg
There are nearly 200 RV sites at this Pinellas County campground, and most are on the water, but only the tent campground is on an actual beach. The waterfront RV sites are behind seawalls, still a nice place to be.
You can paddle, ride a bike or drive within the park to one of Florida’s top beaches, Fort DeSoto’s famous North Beach.
Overall, the campground has 238 sites on three connected islands, including the tent campground. Besides having access to their own beach, tent campers can often find available sites, a benefit not enjoyed by RVers.
Reservations are highly recommended, but some walkup sites may be available.
Tent sites are $33.50 in-season and $30 off season. RV sites are $38.50 in season and $37 off-season. (Add $2 for waterfront.)
Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area (RV/tent)
Flagler Beach near Daytona
Gamble Rogers is not very big as state parks go, but it has a beautiful half-mile orange sand beach and an oceanfront campground with 34 sites.
The inland side of the 145-acre park features a second 34-site campground, a boat ramp, hiking trails along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Saltwater marshes common on this section of the coast make Gamble Rogers it an excellent launch pad for boats, kayaks and canoes seeking to explore a multitude of inland waterways.
A paved bike path runs along A1A to nearby North Peninsula State Park.
Campsites have water, electric, picnic table and a fire ring. Camping fees are $28 per night plus a daily $7 utility fee, taxes and a non-refundable $6.70 booking fee. A dump station is on site. Pets are allowed. (Maximum RV length is 40 feet.)
Anastasia State Park (RV/tent)
Near St. Augustine
Four miles of pristine beach and historic St. Augustine make this state park a big attraction, if you can get a reservation.
It’s the perfect base camp for visitors to the nation’s oldest city who also want to hike or bicycle on the beach, paddle, sail or fish.
Anastasia has 139 campsites for RVs and tents in a grove of trees a short walk from the beach. Ground vegetation provides visual privacy between most sites, which vary from 10 feet to 40 feet.
All sites have electric and water, a picnic table, in-ground grill and a fire ring. A dump station is nearby. Pets are OK but not on the beach.
Sites are $28 a night plus a daily $7 utilities fee, taxes and a $6.70 one-time booking fee.
Florida State Parks offer 50% discounts to resident seniors 65+ and those with 100% disability. Proof is required.
Grayton Beach State Park (RV, tent and cabins)
Near Panama City
This 2,000-acre park embraces one of Florida’s most beautiful beaches, a sugar-sand paradise that stretches for a mile between Destin and Panama City Beach.
The park features a 4.5 mile trail for hiking and biking, and there’s a kayak launch for paddling an unusual freshwater lake behind majestic dunes.
A new campground loop has added 24 sites with water, 50-amp electric and sewer hookups, bringing the total number of sites to 52. Both camping loops have restrooms with hot showers.
The park also has 30 two-bedroom duplex cabins accommodating up to six people each, so invite friends to spend a week or a weekend when you’re here.
Rates are $30 per night plus a daily $7 utility fee for RVs, taxes and a $6.70 one-time reservations fee. Cabins are $110-$130 per night. Pets are OK in the campground.
Sandspur Campground (Tents/small RVs)
In the Florida Keys at Bahia Honda State Park
The 17 oceanfront sites in the Sandspur Campground at Bahia Honda State Park have reopened after being torn up by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Somewhat to the discomfort of tent campers, who once had exclusive use of Sandspur, the new campsites now have gravel pads and accommodate RVs up to 23 feet (hitch to bumper).
We also like waterfront sites in Bahia Honda’s Buttonwood and Bayside campgrounds, best for larger RVs, but none compare to Sandspur sites 49-56 and 62-72 for their spectacular beachfront.
Each site has electric and water hookups, a picnic table and grill. Camping fees are $36 per night plus a $7 utility fee, taxes and a one-time $6.70 booking fee.
Bahia Honda State Park, 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, Florida 33043. Ranger phone: (305) 872-2353. For campground reservations, book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call 1-800-326-3521.
Read more about Bahia Honda State Park
Fort Pickens Campground (RV/tent)
Near Pensacola in Gulf Islands National Seashore
This spectacular 200-site national park campground on the west end of Santa Rosa Island is within the protected Gulf Islands National Seashore.
The campground is named after a historic fort found on the island’s westernmost point, built in the early 1800’s to protect Pensacola Bay. It was one of four forts that did not fall into Confederate hands during the Civil War.
All 200 Fort Pickens’ campsites have water, electricity, grills/fire rings, and picnic tables. Restrooms and dump stations are nearby. Loop A is the most popular with oaks and other trees providing excellent shade over nearly all sites.
A beach access point is directly across from the Loop A entrance.
Sites are $40 per night for electric and $26 without electric.
Read more about Gulf Islands National Seashore
Anclote Key Preserve (Tents)
Offshore Tarpon Springs; accessible only by boat
Anclote Key is an 11,000-acre island paradise three miles off the coast of Tarpon Springs with beautiful beaches and a picturesque 1887 lighthouse.
Campers pitch tents on the north end of the island for an unbelievable beach-camping experience under the stars. There is no water — just a compost toilet — so you bring everything you need (and leave nothing behind).
The best part of camping on this beach? It’s free! You don’t even need a reservation.
The worst part? It’s impossible to camp here without a boat, and the crossing from Fred Howard Park over open water is challenging for kayakers. Only experienced paddlers should attempt it. Ferry service is only for day visitors.
Anclote Key State Park, Offshore, Tarpon Springs FL 34689. Phone: 727-241-6106. Getting There: Campers must have their own boat, and kayakers should be reasonably experienced for a three-mile open water paddle — with a keen eye for weather and knowledge of currents. Launch from Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs or Anclote Gulf Park in Pasco County.
Peanut Island (Tents)
Offshore West Palm Beach, accessible only by boat/ferry
This little island, an exceptional Palm Beach County park, is located in the mouth of the inlet to the Port of Palm Beach, flushed thoroughly with clear, Caribbean blue water with every tide, making it ideal for snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boards and swimming.
There are 17 tropically landscaped tent campsites, set behind a picket fence for privacy, separating the campground from the day-use area.
Camping is limited to three nights, and only one three-night stay every two months. There is no electricity. Campsites are $28 a night plus tax with a six-camper maximum occupancy per site. Peanut Island campers must arrange to reach the island by boat.
Peanut Island Campground, offshore Riviera Beach, FL. Getting there: The Peanut Island shuttle charges $20 per camper and allows each to bring one or two bags, tent and a cooler per person. For reservations, book online or call 561-845-4445.
Panther Key (Primitive tent camping)
Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, accessible only by private boat
I’ve camped often in the Ten Thousand Islands, paddling a kayak more than nine miles to get to the Gulf of Mexico from the Everglades City ranger station in Everglades National Park.
There are multiple islands where you can pitch a tent, but Panther Key is the only island with sprawling beaches where you can camp for free without a reservation.
This is not an easy excursion. The weather in this wilderness off southwest Florida is unpredictable. Storms and winds appear suddenly, and you have to need to know the tides for the best experience. Ride out on the outgoing tide, return on the incoming tide.
Once you are out there, it’s just you and the mosquitoes.
Living the dream. Again!
Read this story for more details: Beach camping in the wild Ten Thousand Islands
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 14 years ago.