There are few things in life better than camping at the beach, letting the sounds of the surf lull you to sleep each night and spending your days playing or relaxing in the sun. With summer just around the corner, now is the time to get those plans in order.
Kalaloch Campground, Washington
If you’re looking for a wild beach with the opportunity to search for shells and unique pieces of driftwood, Kalaloch Beach on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State is ideal. This is the only campground on the southern coast with direct beach access, so if you plan to go between June and September, you’ll want to make your reservations well in advance.
This destination is great for bird watching, with bald eagles and many other coastal birds nesting and feeding in the area. Large nesting colonies of puffins are often seen along rocky outposts, sea otters float along the surface of the ocean, whales and dolphins occasionally emerge offshore, and tide pools are filled with all sorts of marine life, including crabs, sea stars and sea urchins.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
On Oregon’s central coast, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area offers the chance to camp right on the sand at the edge of the Pacific. Here you can even ride dune buggies across wind-sculpted sand dunes, go horseback riding, or take part in a myriad of other fun outdoor activities. As the area is also filled with a number of freshwater lakes, they provide access to great fishing as well as swimming, kayaking and canoeing.
The Lost Coast
In the far northern reaches of California, “The Lost Coast,” is home to Shelter Cove and a secluded, tranquil stretch of beach for camping with breathtaking ocean views and the opportunity to go fish, crabbing, diving, watch for whales, or hiking in the redwoods. The thick forests that surround the village of Shelter Cove are home to elk, deer and bald eagles, while the shoreline provides a refuge for seals and sea lions as well as some of the richest tide pools on earth.
Half Moon Bay
Francis Beach Campground in Half Moon Bay is one of the few places in the San Francisco Bay Area for beach camping. This gorgeous stretch of sand is less than 100 yards from any of the campsites, where campers can enjoy all sorts of beach activities including surfing and coastal hiking. The Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail offers incredible ocean views for walkers and cyclists.
Kirk Creek Campground, Big Sur
Along California’s central coast, Big Sur is known as one of the most spectacular places on the planet. It is in this area that you’ll find Kirk Creek Campground perched above the magnificent waters of the Pacific. It doesn’t get much better than this, with incredible panoramic views as well as access to a cove known for jade discoveries and other treasures, in addition to trails that lead to waterfalls, towering Redwood trees, meadows and streams.
Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu
In Southern California, about 43 miles north of Los Angeles, Leo Carillo State Park features two sandy beach areas, tide pools, and a number of picturesque coves along an especially scenic coastline. It’s a year-round paradise for surfers, beachcombers, divers and wildlife watchers as well as offering a 135-site camping area. Leo Carrillo also tends to be a lot quieter than beaches closer to L.A.
Hike up the cliffs for the chance to catch a glimpse of gray whales, dolphins, pilot whales, and orcas that occasionally pass by.
K.C. Dermody is a freelance writer and the author of the “Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland.” She has traveled to nearly all 50 states and many countries worldwide and has a passion for imparting what she has learned from her experiences to others.
More from this contributor:
Best National Parks for Spring Hiking
Guide to the Most Haunted Castles in Ireland
3 Reasons to Go Whale Watching Off the Northern Coast of the Olympic Peninsula