Beach Camping in NW Florida

May 2021

By Lauren Tjaden, Visit Florida

Have you ever been lying on your beach blanket, watching the sunset and seeing the first stars come out, and dreamed about spending the night right there beside the seashore? You can make your dream a reality, because there are more than 900 beach-area campgrounds in Florida with more than 100,000 campsites.

Most beach campsites are located in the slightly sheltered area behind the sand dunes. Camping right out on the beach near the waves is not usually permitted for safety reasons and to protect wildlife like sea turtles and nesting birds.

The summer months bring campers to the pure white sand and clear emerald green waters of Northwest Florida’s beaches, which may be a bit cool during the winter months for beach camping.

Johnson Beach

The Pensacola area is home to Johnson Beach, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore on Perdido Key. It offers primitive camping, with some minor sand hiking on its far eastern edge. Sugar-white sand, rolling dunes, and wetlands make up the landscape of this peaceful camping destination.

Fort Pickens

Here’s another of Pensacola’s delectable beach offerings. Part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, on the west end of Pensacola Beach, it features historic Fort Pickens, built in 1834. It also boasts miles of sugar-sand beach — and more than 200 camping locations are located just across the street from it. The spots include tent and RV areas for RVs up to 50 feet long, with plenty of access to water, electricity, and picnic tables.

George Island State Park

Just offshore from Apalachicola, you’ll find St. George Island, home to a magnificent state park. If 9 miles of white-sand beaches sounds tempting to you, consider reserving one of its 60 campsites. The campsites, located between the bay and gulf, are about a half-mile from the beach. They’re nestled under a canopy of pines and offer electricity, water, and a central dump station. The park also offers primitive camping and a group camp area. The primitive camp is located at the end of a 2.5-mile trail and is also accessible by canoe or kayak.

Grayton Beach State Park

Located roughly halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin, south of U.S. Highway 98, this park is a quiet respite that encompasses an award-winning beach. Its campground scores high marks for privacy between campsites, and most are easy on the eyes. Some campsites even overlook a lake. Cabins are available, as well.