New England

8 Best Beach Camping Spots in New England for an Oceanfront Getaway

beach camping new england
Photo: Eric Cote

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With over 550 miles (or well over 5,000 miles if including inlets & bays) of coastline, New England has more than enough options for a beach-side getaway.

Wouldn’t you rather wake up, grab your beach gear, and head straight to the shores a few steps away than spend hours in traffic hoping to snag a parking spot? Yeah, I thought so. What better way to spend a beach vacation than waking up with sand out your tent door and the waves crashing at your feet.

Whether you’re looking for rocky coastlines, tidal pools, or a two-mile beach, New England has some of the most unique and special shorelines the U.S. has to offer. See below for the best places for oceanfront camping in New England!

Related read: Boston to Bar Harbor: An Essential New England Road Trip

Tips for Camping on the Beach

Camping across any ecosystem has its own quirks, but camping on a beach brings several scenarios that you might not have had to deal with elsewhere. Here’s some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your beach camping experience.

  • Invest in a windscreen for cooking dinner. Feeling the literal grit between your teeth as you chomp down on your gourmet mac and cheese might not be the best feeling (or taste). By bringing a windscreen to place around your stove will help keep the sand out of your dinner.
  • Bring a clothesline (like this from Sea to Summit). A beach camping excursion usually means lots of wet stuff. The best way to deal with damp towels and swimsuits is to hang them up to dry with the coastal breeze coming offshore.
  • Have a designated mat outside your tent or camper to collect sand. It can be as simple as bringing an old yoga mat or an official one like this. You’ll sleep better if you keep the sand away from your sleeping bags and outside where it belongs.
  • If you’ll be dining outside (i.e., not in an RV or camper), bring a screen-house to keep the bugs out. New England camping (even on breezy shores) are full of pesky mosquitos and other biting insects. Investing in a bug screen will prevent a lot of headache (and after-bite cream) in the long run.

1. Hammonassett Beach State Park, CT

Hammonasset Beach Camping New England
Photo: Britney Beardsley, Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: a budget-friendly option to the big resort hotels that surround the area.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tent, RV, car camping, cabins
  • RV hookups: Yes

Although technically not located on an ocean (Connecticut’s shoreline faces Long Island Sound), no other beach rivals Hammonassett. The campground has 550 sites that are only steps from the sandy landscape. With over a million people visiting each year, expect those prime camping spots to be filled up quick. Onsite, there is a great nature center perfect for those with children that offer nature programs throughout the summer.

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2. Rocky Neck State Park, CT

Rocky Neck State Park Beach Camping
Photo: Brendan van Son, Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: ideal for the wildlife enthusiast.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tent, RV, car camping, cabins
  • RV hookups: No

Rocky Neck is lesser-known than its neighbor Hammonassett but just as beautiful. It’s got over five miles of hiking trails through salt marshes where you can view the nesting ospreys. Cranes and great blue herons are also frequent visitors. Or you can also head over to the crabbing deck to try your hand at catching some crayfish.

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3. Wolfe’s Neck Campground, ME

wolfes neck oceanfront camping new england
Photo: Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Camping

Why you should camp here: one of the few pet-friendly campgrounds.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tent, RV, car camping, cabins
  • RV hookups: Yes

Wolf’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment is much more than a campground. They pride themselves on connecting farmers and consumers, showing how agriculture intersects with so much in life. There are hiking trails, animal barns, and vegetable plots to explore on top of their rocky coastline. If you happen to forget any key beach or adventure gear, L.L.Bean’s flagship store is just a few minutes’ drive from the campground.

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4. Seawall Campground, ME

Seawall Campground Acadia National Park
Photo: Johnida Dockens

Why you should camp here: seclusion but close proximity to a national park.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tent, RV, car camping
  • RV hookups: No

While everyone else is camping over at Blackwoods Campground, book your site at Seawall Campground. It’s got 98 walk-in campsites which is ideal for anyone wanting a bit more privacy on Mount Desert Island. It’s also only steps to the tidal pools where you can spend hours looking at the sea life that lives in these tiny pockets along the rocky coastline. To elevate your adventure, head over to Acadia National Park and hike the Precipice Trail.

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5. Hermit Island Campground, ME

Hermit Island Campground Maine
Photo: Kris West, Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: who needs one beach when you can have eight!

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Summer
  • Campsite type: Tent, car camping, small pop-up campers, cabins
  • RV hookups: No

There are a total of eight beaches within walking distance when you camp at Hermit Island campground. One of the best beaches is Spring Beach which is only accessed by water or trail (no parking is onsite). Sand Dollar Beach is also a favorite but unlike the name suggests, sand dollars are hard to come by here. This place is also ideal for exploring the surrounding rocky coastline by small watercraft whether that be kayak or paddleboard (both of which can be reserved at the Kelp Shed)

Reservations are only made by mail or on the phone (it’s truly old-school). Check their site for the latest information.

6. Shawme-Crowmwell State Forest Campground, MA

Shawme-Crowmwell State Forest Campground

Why you should camp here: the amount of money you’ll save by camping rather than staying at a hotel means you can spend all your money on delicious seafood.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tent, RV, car camping, yurts
  • RV hookups: No

Cape Cod is known for its lavish resorts and expensive overnight stays. Shawme-Crowell State Forest Campground has everything you need without breaking the bank on this sliver of a peninsula. It sprawls over 700 acres of scrub oak and pitch pine forest. The number of trees deafen the sounds of everyone else heading to Cape Cod’s National Seashore. All campers here get free access to Scusset Beach and, bonus, mushroom foraging is prolific here so no need to bring dinner. However, only those who have significant know-how should consume wild mushrooms.

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7. Hampton Beach State Park, NH

hampton beach camping new england
Photo: James Maughn

Why you should camp here: location to the famous Hampton Beach boardwalk.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Summer, fall
  • Campsite type: RV (no tents or pop-ups)
  • RV hookups: Yes

There’s only 18 miles of coastline in New Hampshire, but residents of the Granite State take full advantage of it. The camping at Hampton Beach State Park is the only oceanfront campground in the state so make sure to reserve early. A quick walk gets you to the Hampton Beach boardwalk full of fair-like vendors, casinos, and plenty of eateries.

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8. East Beach, RI

east beach campground rhode island
Photo: Rhode Island State Parks

Why you should camp here: one of the few campsites that allow you to camp right at the beach’s edge.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: RV (self contained, no tow trails or 5th-wheels)
  • RV hookups: No

You must have 4-wheel drive on your vehicle to access these campsites as you will drive through deep sand.  East Beach is one of the least-developed areas in Rhode Island with only a few composting toilets for your use and 20 designated sites. With that said, the small parking areas mean there won’t be as many people crowding your campsite or beach access. Feel free to walk the many hiking trails within Ninigret Conservation Area in which East Beach is located.

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