10 Best Beaches for Van Life on the East Coast

If you’ve caught the nomadic bug, traded in your stationary house for a set of wheels, and are now curiously scanning the horizons for your next adventure, then look no further. The East Coast is brimming with beachy wonders, inviting you to park your van, flip out the folding chairs, and immerse yourself in the gentle lull of the tides. As the saying goes, home is where you park it, so why not park it beside the soothing sea?

Here are the 10 best beaches for van life on the East Coast, where you can surf, sunbathe, or simply be lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean.

1. Assateague Island, Maryland/Virginia

Assateague Island is an off-the-grid paradise known for its wild ponies roaming freely. For van lifers, the appeal lies in the tranquil surroundings and the chance to camp right on the beach. Ideally, plan for at least 3 days to explore the island, view the wild horses, and unwind by the beach.

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Home to several RV resorts, Myrtle Beach offers a balance of comfort and convenience for van lifers. Its boardwalk, live music scene, and fantastic seafood are the cherries on top of the coastal cake. With the wealth of amenities and activities, you could comfortably spend up to a week here.

3. Jekyll Island, Georgia

This historic island provides beachfront camping spots at the Jekyll Island Campground. Alongside its natural beauty, it’s also a gateway to the intriguing history of the “Millionaires’ Club”. 3-4 days will allow you to discover the island’s history, enjoy the beach, and explore the surrounding marshlands.

4. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

For those who love seclusion, Cape Hatteras is the beach to visit. Its campgrounds are open year-round, allowing you to enjoy the sandy beaches, lighthouse views, and perhaps some surf fishing. Given its tranquility and fishing opportunities, a 4-day visit would be ideal.

5. Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut

The largest shoreline park in Connecticut provides over 550 grassy sites for campers. The Meigs Point Nature Center is a treat for nature lovers. Plan for a 2-3 day visit to relax on the beach and visit the nature center.

6. Siesta Key, Florida

A tropical getaway, Siesta Key is a favorite among van lifers for its soft quartz sand beaches and vibrant nightlife. Turtle Beach Campground here is particularly popular. A week-long stay would provide plenty of time to enjoy the beach, explore the local attractions, and take advantage of the nightlife.

7. Acadia National Park, Maine

You’ll find more rugged, rocky coastlines here rather than sandy beaches, but the views are worth it. Park your van at the campgrounds, then take a day to explore Cadillac Mountain and the charming town of Bar Harbor. Given the park’s size and variety of trails, aim for a stay of about 5 days.

8. Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May offers Victorian charm alongside beautiful beaches. Its Beachcomber Camping Resort is a great place to park your van and enjoy both the beach and nearby bird-watching hotspots. 4 days should suffice to explore the historic town, relax on the beach, and go bird-watching.

9. Nauset Beach, Massachusetts

Famous for its stunning sunrises and lighthouse views, Nauset Beach also offers exciting opportunities for seal-spotting. 2 days would allow you to soak in the sunrise, visit the lighthouse, and spot seals.

10. Key Largo, Florida

As the gateway to the Florida Keys, Key Largo is a haven for diving enthusiasts and offers unique underwater attractions. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Campground is the perfect spot for your van with its close proximity to the beach and the coral reefs. Diving enthusiasts might want to spend up to a week here to fully experience the underwater wonders. For others, 3-4 days should suffice.

So, there you have it, ten of the best beaches for van life on the East Coast, each one offering a unique vibe and inviting adventure.

If you’re feeling ambitious and are keen on checking them all off your list, why not start at the top with Assateague Island? You can wind your way down the coast, taking in the changing landscapes as you journey from the cooler northern states to the tropical warmth of the Florida Keys. Remember, in van life, the journey is just as important as the destination. May the ocean’s lullaby and the call of the wild always be your guide. Happy van life!