Our Favorite Beaches: Southeast Coast

Our Favorite Beaches: Southeast Coast

Check out part 4 of our 4-part series talking about our favorite beaches as we focus on the Southeast Coast.

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Check out all 4 parts of our series on our favorite beaches: Part 1: Pacific Northwest, Part 2: California, Part 3: Northeast Coast, Part 4: Southeast Coast.

If you are dreaming of a trip to the beach, there are some unbeatable destinations to be found throughout the southeast part of the US. In this post, we are going to share a few of our favorite spots with you. But first, here are a few reasons to head to a Southeast coast beach.

Outer Banks Black and White Striped Lighthouse

Why Visit Southeast Coast Beaches?

  • Sunny, sandy beaches. When you close your eyes and picture a beach, what do you visualize? For a lot of people, it is pristine sands, warm waters, and plenty of sunshine. That is exactly what you will find at many beach locations in the Southeast part of the country.
  • Surfing opportunities. There are a lot of great surfing destinations in the Southeast where you can catch big waves.
  • Amazing reefs. Some of the waters around the southeastern part of the country are renowned for their crystal clarity and their incredible marine life, making for spectacular snorkelling and scuba diving.

Now that you know a few reasons Southeast coast beaches are worth a visit, let’s check out some locations worth adding to your bucket list.

The Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Outer Banks is a region of North Carolina that offers more than a hundred miles of shoreline to explore. It is an unusual destination, in that you can drive way out over the water to explore the various spits and islands comprising it—kind of like the Florida Keys.

At the Outer Banks, you will find the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, six beautiful lighthouses, and a lot of maritime and colonial history.

Why You’ll Love It

Despite the fact that The Outer Banks is a big draw to tourists visiting North Carolina, it retains an off-the-beaten-path feel. You should find it easy to avoid crowds and to find wide open, secluded spaces to explore. It very much feels like its own private world, removed from everyday life.

In terms of where to stay, Cape Hatteras National Seashore has three different campgrounds operated by the NPS. There are plenty of other locations where you can pitch a tent as well. There are also hotels and resorts for those looking for indoor options.

Biscayne National Park, Florida Keys

Speaking of the Florida Keys, if you are in that area, you will want to head over to Biscayne National Park. The majority of the park is water, rather than shoreline. It is a popular destination for boating, snorkelling, fishing, and lobstering.

Why You’ll Love It

If you are into water-based activities, Biscayne National Park will feel like heaven on earth. It is an incredibly diverse location in terms of its ecologies, which are home to a magnificent range of flora and fauna, including hundreds of fish and bird species and over fifty types of crustaceans. You might also spot a crocodile in the mangroves!

You can camp right at Biscayne National Park on Elliot Key or Boca Chita Key. There are restrooms on both islands, including showers on Elliot Key. Both areas have grills and picnic tables at the campsites. You do need to take a boat to reach either, however—you cannot drive to the campgrounds.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Just southeast of Corpus Christi, you will come across Padre Island National Seashore on Padre Island. You should not confuse Padre Island with South Padre Island. South Padre Island is a crowded spot popular among college students. By contrast, Padre Island National Seashore on Padre Island is a more secluded destination featuring protected tidal flats, dunes and prairies.

Why You’ll Love It

You’ll be visiting what NPS calls "the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world." Whether you want to go fishing, beachcombing, bird-watching or hiking, there is so much to see and do.

Perhaps the most exciting time to visit Padre Island National Seashore is during summer, That is when there are sometimes releases of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings! Alas, there is no way to schedule hatchings, so you need to get lucky to be there for a release. The park’s FB page may help you time your visit to coincide.

You can camp year-round at Padre Island National Seashore on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tips for Visiting Southeast Coast Beaches

  • Check the amenities available. Some Southeast coast beaches have extensive amenities for camping like toilets, showers, etc. But others may not offer any amenities at all at primitive sites. You need to check what will be waiting for you when you arrive so you know what to bring with you.
  • Figure out transportation. This may be a consideration if some of the beaches you want to visit are located on islands. Do not assume all sites can be reached with a car.
  • Find out how reservations work. Depending on where you are going to camp on the beach, you may or may not need a reservation. There are some beaches that do not accept reservations at all. For those sites, you need to show up early and have a plan B in case all the sites are already full. For those where you can book in advance, doing so can help ensure you will have somewhere to set up your tent.
  • Pack a beach canopy tent. Along with your camping tent, a beach canopy tent makes a great supply for your visits to Southeast coast beaches. You can store your gear under the canopy tent, or set up a table and chairs underneath. If you will not be camping overnight, a canopy can offer you shelter from sun and wind during a day trip as well.

Enjoy All that Southeast Coast Beaches Have to Offer

Along the Southeast coast, you can find numerous beautiful beaches. Explore island chains, snorkel and scuba dive around reefs in clear waters, and visit picturesque lighthouses and charming beach towns. The delights of destinations like Padre Island National Seashore, The Outer Banks and Biscayne National Park are endless.

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