Beach camping in Florida? You betcha’. There’s plenty of it. From the marshes to the beachfronts, all you need is a pop up tent and some good ol’ fashioned elbow grease. In fact, there are hundreds of awesome campgrounds in the state, so today we’re listing out some of our favorite beach camping sites in Florida. Create memories with your family and friends, while experiencing the Sunshine State in a way that many others don’t.
Are you ready to spark up the fire, grab your acoustic guitar, and get in touch with nature again? Here’s some of the top beach camping areas in Florida:
Florida’s Best Camping Spots
Blue Spring State Park || Orange City
Refreshing 72 degree waters of Blue Spring greet visitors at this gem along the St. Johns River.
Conservation measures can produce astounding results. In 1970, two years before Blue Spring State Park was established, researchers tracked 14 manatees in the spring run. By 2005, after years of park improvements and manatee protection efforts, wintering manatee numbers exceeded 200 and by 2018, that number skyrocketed to a record 485.
Besides “sea cows,” fish abound in the spring run, and these attract a variety of wading birds, ospreys, eagles and kingfishers. To see the park’s wonders, one can hike along the spring run or on the 4.5-mile Pine Island Trail. One can also launch a canoe or kayak, rent one at the park or take a guided river boat cruise.
Bahia Honda State Park || Big Pine Key
On the way to Key West, Bahia Honda offers the awestruck traveler the chance to ask “do I need to travel any further?”
Henry Flagler’s bold effort to build a railroad to Key West in the early 1900s turned the remote island of Bahia Honda Key into a tropical destination. Known for its iconic Florida scenery—palm-lined beaches, gin-clear waters and magnificent sunsets—visitors to the park enjoy balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. Kayaks and snorkeling gear can be rented and boat trips to the reef for snorkeling excursions are available.
The park is also an excellent place to observe wading birds and shorebirds, while the Sand and Sea Nature Center introduces nature lovers to the island’s plants and animals.
Paines Prarie Preserve State Park || Gainesville
Not just found out west, herds of wild horses and bison roam the prairie in this surprisingly diverse preserve south of Gainesville.
Paynes Prairie is unique in many ways. Nowhere else in Florida can visitors experience wild-roaming bison and horses. Nearly 300 species of birds also frequent the park along with alligators, deer and many other animals.
The park’s eight trails, including the 16-mile paved Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, allows one to explore the park’s interior and observe wildlife, while a 50-foot high observation tower provides for panoramic views.
Fishing and canoeing on Lake Wauberg is popular along with a shaded campground. During a visit to Paynes Prairie, one can easily understand why Seminole Indians once occupied a village along this vast savannah.
Cayo Costa State Park || Pine Island
Cayo Costa State Park protects the Charlotte Harbor Estuary and provides visitors with a majestic piece of untouched Florida.
An unspoiled Gulf Coast island evokes images of wind-shaped trees, dunes, beaches and freedom to explore. This especially rings true for Cayo Costa Island. Accessible only by boat or kayak, this former fishing ground of the Calusa Indians features nine miles of undeveloped shoreline for swimming, snorkeling, shelling, fishing, birdwatching and exploration along with several walking and bicycling trails through the island’s interior. Shorebirds are numerous and one might spot manatees, porpoises and sea turtles offshore.
This is coastal Florida at its best! Campsites and cabins are available for overnight stays and a ferry service runs to the island from several mainland locations. Visitors are reminded that camping is only allowed in designated camp sites in the campground on Cayo Costa.
Ocala National Forest || Silver Springs
The Ocala is a unique and fascinating forest that offers an accommodating climate for year round recreating. The mild winters are fine for family camping while a summer canoe trip down a palm-lined stream is a cool way to spend an August day. The temperatures for the dry months of November through February range from a daily average of 50 F to a high of 72 F. The summer season is much warmer and wetter. Short afternoon thundershowers often raise the humidity to about 90% while the temperatures range from 80 F to 95 F. The average rainfall is approximately 55 inches per year.
There are huge springs, twisting streams and lakes for fishing and water skiing. Many of the scenic lakes were formed when limestone bedrock dissolved, permitting the surface layer to slump and fill with water. The cool crystal-clear water of Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs entice many visitors to take a cool dip. Snorkelers frequently find a thrilling underwater view of fish, swaying vegetation and cavernous springs.
Camping can be enjoyed during all seasons on the Ocala. Visitors are welcome to stay as long as fourteen days in most campgrounds and even longer in other campgrounds, depending on the season. The majority of camping is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Salt Springs, Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs and Clearwater Lake now take reservations through ReserveUSA, in addition to a first-come, first-serve basis. All of the group campgrounds and cabins are by reservation only.
Camping can be divided into three classes based on the type of facilities offered and fees charged; developed campgrounds, primitive campsites and dispersed tent camping. Developed campgrounds provide a variety of amenities including; showers, restrooms, picnic tables, charcoal grills, fire rings, lantern holders, drinking water, sanitation facilities and trash receptacles. Primitive campsites provide very few if any of these amenities. Dispersed tent camping is for the adventurous that prefer no facilities at all and is permitted throughout the general forest area.
Myakka River State Park || Sarasota
The majestic Myakka River flows though 58 square miles of one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks.
In a scene reminiscent of what early Native Americans and Spanish explorers witnessed, arching palm trees and live oaks reflect on a winding tea-colored stream. The cries of limpkins and osprey pierce the air while alligators and turtles sun lazily on logs and riverbanks.
This is the Myakka River, Florida’s first state-designated wild and scenic river, and it flows through a vast expanse of unspoiled wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands that make up Myakka River State Park. Boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on the water while hikers and bicyclists explore miles of trails and backroads.
Rainbow Springs State Park || Dunnellon
The history of Rainbow Springs dates back centuries to a time when native peoples regularly visited this lush spring.
Although the modern era has seen the land shaped by both enterprising developers and the loving hands of local volunteers, the draw of the beautifully serene park endures. When swimmers take their first dip in the sapphire-blue waters of Rainbow Springs, they become part of a story that stretches back over 10,000 years, when humans first visited this place.
Ornamental gardens, man-made waterfalls and sloping hills are visible reminders of the springs’ more recent past, when the land was home to a mining operation and a privately-owned tourist attraction. Take a walk through lush, mossy hammocks and then cool off in the springs—it’s a time-honored tradition.
TH Stone Memorial St. Joseph’s Peninsula State Park || St. Joe’s
Stretching 20 miles into the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, St. Joseph Peninsula is a true wildlife haven.
The St. Joseph Peninsula stretches 20 miles into the Gulf of Mexico with sandy white beaches and tall dunes on the Gulf side and marsh on the bay side. The park is teeming with wildlife, providing vitally important habitats for beach nesting birds including the snowy plover, three species of sea turtles, and two remaining “core” populations of endangered St. Andrews beach mouse
The park is a favorite for getting away, swimming, fishing and enjoying Florida’s Gulf coast and spectacular sunsets.
Grayton Beach State Park || Santa Rosa Beach
Soaking in warm gulf breezes while relaxing on pristine Grayton Beach might be the main attraction, but that’s only one aspect to this gorgeous park.
Grayton Beach consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. Western Lake offers fishing and paddling, and those who want to explore on foot have four miles of trails to traverse through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias stand, bent and twisted by salt winds.
An overnight excursion yields its own unique experience with a stay in one of the well-outfitted cabins or a more rustic accommodation at one of Grayton’s cozy campgrounds. At nearly 2,000 acres, Grayton Beach State Park is more than a backdrop for golden sunrises and silver moonlit evenings.