If you’re taking a trip to Florida, it’s safe to assume you’re looking to spend some time with your toes in the sand. There are many ways to enjoy the sunshine state’s beautiful beaches – from ocean-side resorts to cozy beach town bungalows and everything in between.
Beach camping offers a unique experience that transports visitors off the beaten path and into an untainted world full of natural beauty. Pitching your tent in the sugary sand is a wonderful experience that I’d fully recommend, especially in a tropical haven like Florida. For an immersive beach camping trip, check out these slices of paradise.
Cayo Costa State Park Camping, Captiva Fl.
Cayo Costa is an ideal destination for campers that desire a secluded, undisturbed vacation experience. This state park is located on a small, undeveloped island in The Gulf of Mexico and is only accessible via kayak or ferry. Nature enthusiasts will get the chance to check out of society and experience Florida’s ecological diversity.
Spanning only seven miles in length, designated campgrounds are scarce during peak times of the year which are spring and summer. I highly recommend calling to reserve your spot in advance. Once you’ve reserved a campground, the island is your oyster! Here is what the area has to offer.
Types of Camping on Cayo Costa
Although predominantly undeveloped, Cayo Costa is home to a visitors center, amphitheater, and a small general store that offers basic food, beverage, and camping essentials. That’s the extent of civilized life on the barrier island so plan accordingly and don’t under pack. With that being said, there are a few camping options to select from.
The main attraction at Cayo Costa is the “primitive camping.” Primitive camping is when campers are looking for campgrounds with little available amenities. It is common for primitive campgrounds not to have restrooms or any electricity or fire rings. Located about a mile from the boating docks, campsites provide visitors with a rewarding camping experience.
Other than restroom facilities and water, beach campers get the chance to be completely off-grid and immersed in Florida’s natural beauty. You will need to bring your own food, tent, camping gear, and any additional luxuries like hammocks and fishing poles. It is worth mentioning that the state park is limited to only 30 sites so you are required to make a reservation ahead of time. Reservations not only secure a campsite but also provide a ferry service to help bring all your goods to your designated area.
Just note that generators are prohibited from this camping area and nothing may be tied or attached to any vegetation in an effort to conserve Florida’s natural wildlife. Each site has access to water, a picnic table, as well as a ground grill. Everything else must be provided by the visitors.
For those looking for a more civilized experience, reserve one of Cayo Costa’s charming cabins in advance. These cabins are not for campers looking for an escape from nature, but rather those that would like a roof over their heads. Each cabin is only one room and can house up to six people via bunk beds. There is no electricity so these cabins really are not much of a cop-out of the traditional camping experience. I highly recommend the cabins if you are a party of 5 or more.
The proximity of the beach to both campsites and cabins makes it easy to incorporate swimming, fishing, beachcombing, and snorkeling into your daily routine.
For beachcombing and snorkeling, please be aware that marine treasures are in fact alive and should be left in place. Please respect the wildlife and be aware of what you are taking in to conserve the state’s indigenous aquatic inhabitants. Cycling and hiking trails are located throughout the island’s interior for those who want to remain active while on vacation.
Kayaking and canoeing are also very popular activities among visitors as the island has many different areas to launch your kayak. Boating around the island is encouraged and you are even able to camp within the confines of your boat if you would like.
If you are planning a trip near the Fort Myers area and have the urge to camp, this is your spot.
Anastasia State Park Camping, St. Augustine
Located near St. Augustine, this pristine and historic state park is a favorite among campers and day-trippers alike. Anastasia is a well-known campground and ideal for those seeking adventurous activities and serene nights.
The 139 campsites offered range from tent sites to RV hookups – both of which come highly recommended. Recreational vehicle campsites are equipped with water, electricity, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Campsites are not located directly on the beach but the water is just a short walk or bike ride away.
Activities in Anastasia State Park
Anastasia’s northern location and Atlantic coastline offer a different set of activities than Cayo Costa. The hot commodity in St. Augustine is actually bird watching. Florida is famous for its wide variety of tropical and exotic birds that can’t be seen anywhere else in the United States. The town’s location along The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail attracts bird enthusiasts from around the world. Many spectacular species include osprey, bald eagles, owls, and much more.
My favorite spot to bird-watch sits along a salt marsh known as the Salt Run. Catch some coastal species here then head inland to try and spy even more winged creatures.
Being on the Atlantic Coast provides a different beach experience compared to the opposing Gulf Coast. The luxurious white sand and clear blue water that many parts of Florida are famous for can be located here. This allows for a fantastic beach bike ride which is a very popular beach activity among visitors.
In terms of aquatic activities, Anastasia gives visitors the chance to scuba dive, snorkel, and beach comb. Shell-collecting is even better than it is down south. Kayaking and canoeing are popular on days when the surf is calmer.
In addition to birdwatching and strolling on the beach, I highly recommend checking out the miles upon miles of trails that allow for more birdwatching as well as casual hiking and cycling.
Does Florida Have Good Beach Camping?
There are many different places to go beach camping in Florida, it would be impossible to cover them all. Some other highly recommended destinations are Grayton Beach State Park, the lovely Crystal Beach Destin, or check out my piece on The Best Shelling Beaches in Florida. These are beaches that would be perfect for a day at the beach rather than an overnight experience.