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Every summer I have a strong desire to go camping on a beach. However, I've discovered that the places near me (Long Island, New York, northern New Jersey) often either:

  • Have a limited number of permits/reservations that sell out quickly or require the camper to be a resident of the town the beach is in, or

  • Charge more money than I'm willing to pay (I've seen campsites go for $75-100 per night, which is a little ridiculous to me).

Are there any beaches ranging from Maine to the mid-Atlantic where you don't need a permit or a reservation at a campground in order to camp out overnight there? My ideal situation is to just set up a tent on the sand (or if the weather's nice enough, not even bother with a tent).

Note: I'm talking about camping with a tent, not "camping" with an RV/camper or renting a cabin. Think lying on the sand and swimming in the ocean all day, then when the sun starts to go down, setting up a tent and making a bonfire. Though bonfires usually aren't allowed. ;) I also know that I theoretically could just pitch a tent on a secluded stretch of beach and take my chances, but I'd rather not get a fine or citation.

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If you go a little farther south you can camp on the beach at the Everglades, and likely have the beach to yourself. Mosquitoes are really bad in the summer. – xpda Jan 25 '12 at 2:05
I just saw that there's no tent camping in MA. Cars-only on the beach. Finding reasonable camping accommodations on the New England coast sounds like one hell of a challenge. – mendota Jan 28 '12 at 6:55
Can you clarify what you would be willing to pay? $75 is too much, but what would be fair? Helps with searching. – Russell Steen Feb 2 '12 at 6:14
@RussellSteen I guess anything less than $75...though I'd prefer less than $50 ;) – Laura Feb 2 '12 at 21:48
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Private camping is both allowed and nice on Masonboro Island which is North of Carolina Beach, NC and south of Wrightsville Beach, NC. You are close to civilization but the island is only reachable by boat which cuts down on the population - especially on weekdays and during off season. I don't know if you consider this Mid-Atlantic since it would be quite a haul to get there from the north, but I have been there and it fits all the other criteria you list.

It is part of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR)

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Have you looked into Assateague? It's just south of Ocean City, Maryland.

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