Top 3: Beach Campsites

Fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves in these remote sandy spots—no boardwalks allowed.
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Fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves in these remote sandy spots—no boardwalks allowed.

Olympic National Park, WA 

Toleak Point

Camp with panoramic sunset views.

The Lower 48’s longest wilderness coast—73 miles in all—serves up a dazzling variety of postcard-worthy sights. Offshore, sea stacks loom like a ruined city, while seals and sea lions bask on small rock platforms. Onshore, pebbly beaches strewn with polished driftwood give way to tidepools full of sea stars and rainforest-covered headlands. Spend at least two nights on the 16-mile point-to-point trek north from Hoh River to Third Beach, alternating between oceanside walks and scrambles up wood-and-rope ladders to trails through the dense coastal forest. Navigate headlands passable only at low tide to spend night one at Mosquito Creek and bed down on night two on Toleak Point’s sandy shores, overlooking a garden of rock towers. (360-565-3100; nps.gov/olymTrip databackpacker.com/hikes/55411

The way End: From Port Angeles, take US 101 S 54 miles to WA 110 W; park in 11.6 miles. Start: Continue 16 miles on 101 S. Right on Oil City Rd.; park in 10.3 miles.

Kohala Forest Reserve, HI

Waimanu Valley

Visit a waterfall-framed black-sand beach.

Paradise found: a perfect beach, 40 miles from the nearest resort crowds, with a palm-shaded camp at the mouth of a lush valley. Did we mention the 2,000-foot lava cliffs, freshwater cascades, and endangered monk seals? Hike to this idyllic spot on the Big Island's northeast coast via a 16.9-mile out-and-back from Waipio Valley. Wait until low tide to ford the knee-high Wailoa Stream (pack spare closed-toe shoes) before zigzagging up 1,200 feet in less than a mile. For the next 4.5 easy miles, trace the corrugated base of an ancient lava flow cut by a dozen creeks, then drop to black-sand Waimanu Valley beach. Spend two nights to swim, sun, and hike 2.4 round-trip miles to visit 1,000-foot Waiilikahi Falls (year-round hunting, so dress loud). (808-974-4221; camping.ehawaii.gov) Trip data backpacker.com/hikes/1672595

The way From Honokaa, take HI 240 N 6.6 miles; fork right on Kukuihaela Rd. In a mile, park at Waipio Valley Artworks ($15/night; 800-492-4746). 

Everglades National Park, FL

East Cape Sable

Paddle to a wildlife paradise.

Snowbirds take note: The southernmost spot on the U.S. mainland happens to be five undeveloped miles of white shell beach backed by coconut and sable palms. Hug the shoreline as you paddle about 11 miles west from Flamingo, across Florida Bay, to the cape. Camping is at-large on the beach, so round the point and keep heading north for better solitude. Bunker down above high-tide line and keep an eye out for sea turtles, manatee, dolphins, roseate spoonbills, and bald eagles. Bring a kite to take advantage of ocean breezes, and cast for redfish, tarpon, or even nurse sharks. Avoid winter holidays, especially the week after Christmas; bring an extra tarp shelter for shade; and pack a gallon of drinking water per person per day. (239-695-2945; nps.gov/ever) Trip databackpacker.com/hikes/1674146

The way From Homestead, take Ingraham Hwy./Main Park Rd. 41.8 miles south to the Flamingo Marina (canoes: $40/day; reserve online: bit.ly/everboats).