Camping at the Beach

Here's a must-do experience for you: sleeping under the stars with the fine silk-sand underneath you. And come morning, you’ll be steps away from the water and outdoor adventures such as kayaking, snorkeling, fishing and bird watching. Read on to learn about the area’s best camping spots.

No matter where you camp, you’ll want to remember these essentials: Lots of water, ice and coolers for food and drinks; bug spray and sunscreen; know the daily timing of sunrise, sunset and the high and low tides; and don’t forget a bag to bring home seashells! (Leave live shells alone, but the rest are fair game.)

1 Classic Camping at Fort De Soto Park

Locals love Fort De Soto Park for its perfect mix of nature and convenience with boat ramps, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and almost three miles of beachfront. Here you'll find more than 200 campsites with water and electricity for everything from tents to RVs. There are restrooms, showers, grills, picnic tables, laundry facilities and a camp store. Pets are welcome in designated areas, and you're not far from good eats at Island Grille and Raw Bar, Tony & Nellos and Billy's Stonecrab, Seafood & Steaks.

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2 Primitive Camping at Anclote Key Preserve State Park

No frills, just paradise: Located in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Anclote River, Anclote Key is a barrier island that's full of tropical beauty you have to see to believe. Its 400 acres includes sandy beaches, 43 species of birds and an 1887 lighthouse. To check in, reservations aren't required, but call the park ranger at 727-638-4447 for more info. Take note: Anclote Key only has basic camping amenities (i.e. toilet only) and overnight guests need a boat to access the area.

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3 Back-to Nature Camping at Shell Key Preserve

Shell Key Preserve is even more primitive than Anclote Key--no amenities, access by boat only, and a Pinellas County camping permit is required. But these undeveloped barrier islands feature 1,800 acres of protected land, including the main island Shell Key, as well as smaller mangrove islands and sea grass beds. This sensitive habitat is one of the state’s most important shorebird sanctuaries, so the birding is spectacular, as are the peaceful beach views. Don’t forget: In addition to food, water and shelter, you’ll also need portable toilets, which are required by the county.

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4 Boat Camping on Caladesi Island

Camp out on your boat by docking overnight on Caladesi Island, a barrier island famous for its three miles of award-winning, white-sand beaches. The marina has 108 boat slips with both water and electric. By day, you’ll also find a cafe and gift shop renting beach chairs, umbrellas and kayaks. Showers, bathrooms and grills are available and leashed pets are allowed too. Enjoy snorkeling, swimming, fishing, hiking and three miles of kayak trails through the mangroves and bay.

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5 Youth Group Camping at Wall Springs Park

Wall Springs Park offers only primitive camping, only for youth groups. Here you'll find boardwalks, nature trails, a covered playground and a 35-foot observation tower overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. To check in, youth representatives can contact Pinellas County parks officials at 727-582-2100.

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6 Modern Camping Near the Beach at Madeira Beach KOA

Ok, so the camping experience at Madeira Beach KOA isn't technically ON the beach, but you are only 2 miles from it, and right on the Pinellas Trail, a local-favorite 37-mile path for biking, hiking and rollerblading that stretches from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. Take advantage of the pool, hot tub, fishing dock, canoe rentals, shuffleboard, miniature golf and volleyball while you're here.

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1 Fort De Soto Park

City: Tierra Verde
Category: Campgrounds

Address
3500 Pinellas Bayway S.
Tierra Verde, FL 33715

Phone: 727-552-1862

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2 Anclote Key Preserve State Park

City: Dunedin
Category: Boating

Address
Three miles off the coast of Tarpon Springs
Dunedin, FL 34698

Phone: 727-469-5943

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3 Shell Key Preserve

City: St. Pete Beach
Category: Parks

Address
Mouth of Tampa Bay
St. Pete Beach, FL 34688

Phone: 727-453-6900

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4 Caladesi Island State Park

City: Dunedin
Category: Beaches

Address
1 Causeway Blvd.
Dunedin, FL 34698

Phone: 727-469-5918

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5 Wall Springs Park

City: Palm Harbor
Category: Parks

Address
3725 De Soto Blvd.
Palm Harbor, FL 34683

Phone: 727-943-4653

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6 Madeira Beach Recreation Park

City: Madeira Beach
Category: Parks

Address
200 Rex Place
Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Phone: 727-392-0665

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