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Beach camping in Florida: Living the dream

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

Catching whiting in the surf on St. George's Island
Surf fishing at St. George’s Island State Park. (Photo provided by a reader)

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.

St. George Island State Park, 1900 E. Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, FL. Phone: 850-927-2111. For reservations, book online call 800-326-3521.

Related story: Apalachicola & St. George Island: Delightful town; spectacular beach


beach camping curry hammock state park
Our kayaks on the beach at Curry Hammock State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

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.

Curry Hammock State Park, 56200 Overseas Highway, Marathon. Phone: 305-289-2690. For reservations, book online or call 800-326-3521

Read this story: Curry Hammock State Park: Great beach camping, kayaking


huguenot park beach jacksonville
All-wheel drive is recommended on Huguenot Park’s mile-long beach. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Huguenot Memorial Park (RV/tent)

Near Jacksonville

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. 

Huguenot Park Campground, 10980 Heckscher Drive, Jacksonville FL 32226. Phone: (904) 255-4255. For reservations, book online or call (904) 255-4255 from 9 am-5 pm, Monday through Friday.


turtle beach southwest florida camping
Turtle Beach Campground is a linear park that goes straight to the beach, and it’s extremely popular. (Photo courtesy Visit Sarasota)

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.

Turtle Beach Park, 8862 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota. For reservations, call 941-861-2267 or book online.


The beach at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral is hard-packed and offers great recreational opportunities. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The beach at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral is a great place to play — or observe rocket launches less than a mile away. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

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


beach camping fort desoto campground
Beach camping in Florida: Nighttime in the tent campground at Fort De Soto. (© Can Stock Photo / Kwiktor)

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.)

Fort DeSoto Park, 3500 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, FL 33715 . Reservations up to 6 months in advance online or call the park office (727) 582-2267.

Read these stories: Fort De Soto Park is Tampa Bay treasure; More about the Fort De Soto Campground


beach camping gamble rogers state park
Beachfront campground at Gamble Rogers State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

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.)

Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area, 3100 S. Oceanshore Blvd., Flagler Beach FL 32136 Park office: 386-517-2086. For reservations, book online or call 800-326-3521.

Read more: Gamble Rogers State Park: Oceanfront jewel celebrating song and sea


beach at Anastasia State Park
The beach at Anastasia State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

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.

Anastasia State Park, 300 Anastasia Park Rd., St. Augustine FL 32080 Park office: 904-461-2033. For reservations, book online or call 800-326-3521.

Read more about Anastasia State Park and St. Augustine.

Florida State Parks offer 50% discounts to resident seniors 65+ and those with 100% disability. Proof is required.


Grayton Beach
Grayton Beach is a quiet oasis of sugar-white sand and high-rising dunes between Panama City and Destin. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

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.

Grayton Beach State Park, 357 Main Park Rd., Santa Rosa Beach FL 32459 Park office: 850-267-830. For reservations, book online or call 800-326-3521.

Read more: Camp, kayak and bike at one of America’s top beaches


beach camping bahia honda sandspur campgrouond
The Sandspur Campground at Bahia Honda State Park allows tents and recreational vehicles up to 23 feet, but the new gravel pads may make it a bit uncomfortable for tent campers. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

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

Beach camping in Florida: Gulf Island National Seashore. (Photo/VisitPensacola)
Beach camping in Florida: Gulf Island National Seashore. (Photo/VisitPensacola)

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.

Fort Pickens Campground, 1400 Fort Pickens Rd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561. Park office: (850) 934-2622. Reservations: Call (800) 326-3521, TDD (888) 433-0287, or book online.

America the Beautiful Senior and Access pass holders get 50 percent off campsite reservations at Fort Pickens and other federal campgrounds.

Read more about Gulf Islands National Seashore


anclote key beach camping
Beach campsite on Anclote Key (VisitFlorida photo)

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.

Read more: Island Camping: Anclote Key Preserve is a sea-kayaking adventure


Peanut Island beach along the northern shore. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Peanut Island’s beach. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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.

Read more: Exceptional island park for snorkeling, camping, kayaking


Campsite on Panther Key
Our campsite on Panther Key. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

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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Mike Hughes

Monday 5th of June 2023

To paddle from Fred Howard Park to the north end of Anlocte Key is over 4 miles in open water. There are some very "bumpy" areas around shoals that can be tricky in a loaded kayak. Not to mention boat traffic. I recommend only intermediate to advanced kayakers for this trip. I've done it many times.

Mike Hughes

Tuesday 7th of November 2023

@Mike Hughes, Excellent comment. I could not agree more. Those shoals can give you quite a bumpy ride out there.

Bob Rountree

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

Thank you Mike for reminding us that this is a challenging paddle across open water. I'll add that to our blurb.

Jay Eleanor

Wednesday 21st of December 2022

Beautiful places. Campgrounds will help you to take a break from the noise of the world. If you will visit to the Philippines here are the beautiful camping sites: https://wildkamp.ph/campsites/Batangas

Mike Hughes

Wednesday 13th of April 2022

I've kayaked out to Anclote Key and camped several times. The paddle from Anclote River State Park to the camping area is 5 miles in open water, not 3. It is approximately 3 miles to the south end of Anclote but not the North end. In addition, there is a large shoal about 2/3 out to the island that makes the water extremely choppy. With a kayak loaded with gear, this can be a little dicey. Only experienced, open-water paddlers should attempt this trip.

Dennis Beek

Friday 25th of June 2021

When writing the review for Jetty Park in Port Canaveral Florida you may mention they have 13 pages of rules and regulations and it is a very small park. Most sites are in a corelled area but the best sites are called Inlet Campsites but there is no electricity and cannot run a quiet generator or any generator that has not been factory installed in your unit.

Reed

Thursday 3rd of December 2020

Awesome, thank you

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