East State Beach in Charlestown, Rhode Island is a remote-campers paradise because the campground sits oceanfront in one of Rhode Island’s least-developed beaches. East Beach is part of an eastern extension of Quonochontaug Neck stretching for three miles of scenic shoreline. Only campers who have self-contained four-wheel drive recreational vehicles are permitted to stay in the camping area because of the remote nature of the facility and the sandy terrain. Although the area is isolated, the experience of staying right along the ocean, separated from the sounds of cars and people will be an unforgettable one.
Before planning your trip to the shore, ensure you understand the permit and vehicle requirements for camping at East Beach State Beach. All campers must obtain a Barrier Beach Permit before arriving at the beach, and all campers should understand that there are limited facilities even in the day use area. Because of the camping limitations, registered campers may use the dump station at either Fishermen’s Memorial State Campground or Burlingame State Campground at no charge. During the peak season, East Beach State Beach requires a two-night minimum stay and during peak-holiday weekends a three-night minimum stay.
Additionally, campers should be aware of potential beach closures. During the camping season, the beach closes when the Piping Plover, a shorebird classified as a threatened species, nests. The Federal Endangered Species Act protects the birds and enforces the closure. If you have a reservation during a mandatory beach closure, you will receive a full refund of your camping fees.
East Beach State Beach is located 46 miles southwest of Providence, Rhode Island and 96 miles south of Boston, Massachusetts.
Because of the sandy terrain, all campers accessing the park must have an approved four-wheel drive vehicle.
Campers should be prepared to show a valid Barrier Beach Permit before entering the facility. There is a daily parking fee payable at the point of entry.
The campground at East Beach State Beach is unique because the camping sites sit right along the ocean in an undeveloped campground. Because of the location of the camping area as well as the primitive conditions, only self-contained vehicles with grey and black water tanks permanently affixed to the unit are permitted. The sandy conditions make driving impassible for vehicles that are not four-wheel drive. Travel trailers, motorhomes, and fifth wheel campers can’t safely access the premises and are not permitted. The sandy surfaced sites are back in and accommodate campers up to 38 feet in length. Please note that there are no amenities at this campground, and pets are not permitted. Before making your reservation, be aware that you must obtain a barrier beach permit before your stay. Quiet hours are between 10:00 and 7:00 am, and generators must remain off between 8:00 pm and 8:00 am.
During the peak season, East Beach State Beach is a popular destination for day use and overnight guests. The soft, sandy beach extends for three miles, giving beach lovers and swimmers plenty of space to relax along the shore or go for a swim. During the summer, the beach has lifeguards on duty, and guests have access to a composting toilet. Bring what you need for a day at the shore since there are limited resources once you get to the park.
Some of the best windsurfing is found along the shores of Rhode Island. East Beach State Beach is a popular windsurfing destination because there are two places for windsurfers to take their watercraft. Instead of braving the Atlantic Ocean, windsurfers generally take their boats to Ninigret Pond, the saltwater lagoon that shares the shoreline with East Beach. The smaller surface area combined with the winds and the sandbar make windsurfing easier for beginners as well as for experienced surfers.
Bring your kayaks and canoes to East Beach State Beach and spend your time paddling along the shoreline. There are no designated boat launches, but people who have car-topped boats like kayaks may carry their boats from the parking area to the beach and launch from the sand. If you don’t have a kayak or canoe, there are numerous rental facilities in and around Charleston where you can rent a boat for the day. Plan to get to the beach parking area early during peak-operating days. The park is popular, and parking fills up quickly.
Are you looking for something fun and unique to do during your stay at East Beach State Beach that doesn’t require the sand and the surf? The beach is considered one of the area’s places with the darkest skies, and the Frosty Drew Observatory uses the dark skies to its advantage. The observatory has a sky theater and a nature center, and the facility presents activities, classes, and sky viewing for people who want to see the stars or learn about celestial bodies. Visit the observatory’s website for a schedule of events and classes, and plan to see the night sky up close and personal during your stay to East Beach State Beach.
Day use guests and overnight campers looking for a family-friendly activity should try shellfishing (also known as clam digging). Rhode Island residents don’t require a recreational clam digging license, but non-residents over the age of 12 must have and possess a valid license before heading to the shore. Plan your clam digging excursion ahead of time because non-residents must apply for a permit via the mail. There are different kinds of licenses available. Contact the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Fish and Wildlife for information on shellfishing and licensing.
During the early fall, fishing along the shoreline of East Beach State Beach is productive and fun. Bring your fishing gear, your bait, and head to the water and cast your line in the Atlantic Ocean or Ninigret Pond. If you prefer boat fishing, there are boat launches located outside of the state beach area to launch your boat. For information on fishing, licenses, and fishing regulations, contact the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Fish and Wildlife.