Camping at the Beach

Sleep under a starry night on pristine, powdery white sand just steps away from the gentle waves of our warm gulf waters.

A family circles a bon fire on the beach with a tent in the background

No frills, just paradise. Camping is a great way to unplug from technology and spend time together as a family.

Ever dream of sleeping under a starry night on pristine, powdery white sand? Just steps away from the gentle waves of our warm gulf waters? And come first light, epic outdoor adventures await you such as kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, bird watching and more? Then 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.)

See a list of campgrounds in the St. Pete/Clearwater area

1

Classic Camping at Fort De Soto Park

A sunset behind beach foliage at Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto Park has tons of historical and environmental significance. The park covers five islands and 1,136 acres on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.

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

Aerial view of a boat and family in Anclote Key

Set your course for Anclote Key near Tarpon Springs, where your own stretch of beach awaits.

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.

3

Back-to Nature Camping at Shell Key Preserve

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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.

4

Boat Camping on Caladesi Island

Aerial view of Caladesi Island State Park

An uninhabited island near Dunedin, Caladesi Island State Park is a heavenly stretch of sand only accessible by boat.

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. (Note: call ahead for details, some amenities are limited at this time.)

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.

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 two miles from it, and right on the Pinellas Trail, a local-favorite 45-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.