Last updated on February 6th, 2021 at 10:07 am

aerial of the sebastian inlet
Sebastian Inlet (Photo by John Massung)

Sebastian Inlet has long been a favorite destination for my family. 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 of 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 and other wild things.

Boating is a symbol of life here. Kayaks, canoes, fishing craft, pontoon boats and paddle boards snake their way in the lagoon and along the ocean shoreline.

Long Point Park Campground

Aerial photo of Long Point Park, Brevard County, FL
Long Point Park Campground. (Photo by John Massung)

Sebastian Inlet State Park may be best-known camping destination, but I go the extra mile north to Brevard County’s 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 campsite, or a motor boat from the park’s ramp and anchor in shallow water behind your tent.

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

Bring your own shade, especially in summer, and experience refreshing sea breezes. Food, beer and bait is available at a convenience store at the corner with A1A.

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.

Web site: Long Point Park Brevard County

Sebastian Inlet State Park Campground

Aerial photo of campground at Sebastian Inlet State Park.
Campground at Sebastian Inlet State Park. (Photo by John Massung)

Sebastian Inlet State Park’s 51 renovated campsites overlook the inlet and accommodate both RVs and tents. Much of the shade evident from the old campground is gone, but new shade is 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.

Campsites may be reserved up to 11 months in advance by phone (800) 326-3521 or online for $28 per night (plus tax and $6.70 booking fee).

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

Web site: Sebastian Inlet State Park

Hidden Gem

Donald McDonald Park in Sebastian, Florida
Campsite at Donald McDonald Park
Indian River County Parks

Donald McDonald Park Campground

Our little secret. A very nice, wooded and shady public campground in Sebastian with access to the St. Sebastian River, which spills into the Indian River Lagoon across from the Sebastian Inlet. All 31 sites have a fire ring and picnic table, but only five sites have electric and water hookups for RVs. The 26 tent sites share access to multiple potable water spigots on the campground loop. This campground is not well-known or heavily used, so sites are almost always available. The park has a restroom with hot showers. Camping fees are $20 for non-electric sites (1-27) and $30 for electric (28-31). Reservations are now accepted online. Book online.
Donald McDonald Park and Campground
12315 Roseland Rd
Sebastian, FL 32958
(772) 589-0087

Things to Do near Sebastian Inlet

surfing sebastian inlet Two top campgrounds, pristine beaches, surfing, kayak the lagoon and fab fishing at Sebastian Inlet
Surfing Sebastian Inlet (Photo by Lana Velazquez)
Sebastian Inlet State Park

The Beaches

Three miles of pristine beach backed by rolling dunes and some of the best surfing on Florida’s Atlantic Coast sets the beach at Sebastian Inlet State Park apart from all others. For those who prefer calmer waters, the state park also features a beach inside the inlet on the north side. (Campground is directly opposite on the south side.) One of the most consistent surf breaks in Florida is Sebastian Inlet’s first peak, next to the north jetty.
Another hot surf spot is Monster Hole (actually, a shoal), about a third of a mile off the beach, on the south side of the inlet. Like all inlets in Florida, the ebb and flow of tides draws gamefish through the inlet, making it not only attractive to anglers, but also to sharks who patrol the mouth. For the safest swimming, there’s plenty of great beach away from the inlet in both directions.
Web cam:

Spoil island in the Indian River Lagoon
Spoil island in the Indian River Lagoon (Photo by John J Massung)
Indian River Lagoon

Kayaking/Paddle board

Paddle to your heart’s content in the Indian River Lagoon. Head for Pelican Island, a mile south of the inlet, to visit the nation’s first bird sanctuary, or visit one of the many spoil islands in the lagoon for a picnic and a swim. (You can even camp on some islands!) Paddle directly across the lagoon from the inlet to the mouth of the St. Sebastian River, then up the river to another wildlife sanctuary where manatees congregate in winter. Fly fishers prowl the oyster bars around the spoil islands for red drum (redfish), and black drum are abundant in deeper waters. Ask a park ranger where clamming is permitted, but stay clear of leased clam beds. Rentals are available from Bayside Marina.

The Hammock Trail at Sebastian Inlet State Park
The Hammock Trail at Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park

Hiking and Biking

Take a stroll down the Hammock Trail. This mile-long nature trail meanders under the shade of a coastal, sub-tropical, palm/oak hammock and along the fringe of the mangroves. Plant identification signs tell about many of the unique species in this habitat. Three mountain bicycle trails are located within the park, a combination of off-road and paved courses. A multi-use, paved path runs along State Road A1A and the Indian River Lagoon with numerous beach access points.

White Pelicans on Pelican Island
National Wildlife Refuge

Pelican 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 itself can only be approached by water but can be viewed from an observation tower accessible via a boardwalk trail from the visitor’s area on State Road A1A south of the inlet. Or you can paddle your kayak a mile south of the inlet for an up-close and personal look. (But don’t go ashore.)
Read more: Pelican Island: Oldest bird sanctuary in U.S
Web site: Pelican Island

mclarty treasure museum Two top campgrounds, pristine beaches, surfing, kayak the lagoon and fab fishing at Sebastian Inlet
Florida State Park Photo
Sebastian Inlet State Park

McLarty Treasure Museum

The McLarty Treasure Museum, south of the inlet is the 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. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Phone: (772) 589-2147
Read more: History and Culture of Sebastian Inlet

sebastian fishing museum 1024 Two top campgrounds, pristine beaches, surfing, kayak the lagoon and fab fishing at Sebastian Inlet
Fishing Museum. (Photo courtesy Visit Indian River County)
Sebastian Inlet State Park

Sebastian Fishing Museum

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 Sebastian Inlet State Park near the campground and is open daily. Admission is free with park admission or with a campsite reservation. Phone: (321) 984-4852
Video: Sebastian Fishing Museum

St. Sebastian River
St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park. (Photo by Kyle Gabriel)
Florida State Parks

St. Sebastian River Preserve

There are two ways to get into the 22,000-acre St. Sebastian River Preserve. By water from either campground, go almost directly across the Indian River Lagoon from the inlet to the mouth of the St. Sebastian River. The preserve short paddle up river. Or you can enter the preserve by vehicle from Fellsmere. Mountain bikers, equestrians and hikers should use the Fellsmere entrance to enjoy 60 miles of rough, multi-use trails. There is a manatee observation deck in Fellsmere. Many different species of birds use the preserve during spring and fall migration, including the swallow-tailed kite, various songbirds, hawks, hummingbirds and robins.
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.

Click on markers below for “Things to Do” locations.

The aerial photographs on this page were provided courtesy of John Massung, who shoots from a powered parachute. 


  1. Rick Cunningham

    Good as always Bob. Couple of things:
    – do NOT speed through Wabasso – it is a major speed trap. Road drops from 45 or so to 25 very quickly and Officer Friendly is almost always there to point out the sign to anyone who misses it
    – surprised you didn’t mention the SE entrance to the Preserve as you did in the linked article: The entrance to the Southeast quadrant is 1.8 miles east of I-95 Exit 156, towards Sebastian, on WW Ranch Road, behind Indian River County’s North County Park. There is a great backpacking site there only a mile or so from the parking area that is right on the river with your own dock.
    – Bugs can be unbearable at Long Point in the summer
    – Maier is right about Jungle Trail. Parts of it are drivable. Great example of what the barriers are supposed to lo look like.

  2. Maier Goldberg

    Thank you for FloridaRambler. I always look forward to your ramblings. I lived in Roseland for 6.5 yrs. Next time you visit, you could launch from Wimbrow Park, north to the North Prong of the Sebastian River, where there is a kayak dock at the navigable end. It leads to a trail inside the huge St. Sebastian State Preserve. There’s a big old alligator, who likes to sun bathe on the dock, so you’ll have to ask him to move. The South Prong also has a kayak dock along the way south, and another further down south near the navigable end.
    Also fun for biking: Jungle Trail on Orchid Island (the barrier island). Sebastian will always be quiet because it’s 8 miles to Wabasso Bridge and the beaches further on.

  3. Pingback: Pelican Island: Oldest bird sanctuary in U.S. | Florida Rambler

  4. Pingback: As the weather breaks, enjoy fall camping | Florida Rambler

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