Beach Camping: What You Need to Know
Camping is all about getting close to nature, which is why beach camping is such a popular activity for outdoorsy types. It’s the only form of camping where you get to fall asleep to the gentle sound of crashing waves or unroll your sleeping bag on soft, sandy ground. Indeed, beach camping is a bucket list item for many of us. But you can’t set up camp just anywhere. There are a few important things you need to know beforehand.
1. Do it Legally
As with all forms of camping, you want to make sure you have the proper permissions before pitching your tent. There are three main avenues you can take to ensure that you’re camping legally on the beach:
- a. Go to a Beach Campground — The simplest and most popular way to camp on the beach is to visit one of the many gorgeous beach campgrounds around the country. For a small fee, you can camp on or near the beach and — in some places — you can even use the public bathrooms and showers.
- b. Get a Permit — Prefer to take the wild, secluded route? On some public lands, you can pay for a permit and then choose your spot within a large, designated area. Of course, this is the more primitive route and generally doesn’t provide any access to bathroom or shower facilities.
- c. Get Permission from a Private Beach Owner — Know someone with access to a private beach? You can always ask them if they would be OK with you setting up camp on their little sliver of the coast.
2. Pack Your Cooler for the Beach
Packing your cooler for beach camping is a bit different than packing it for a regular outing. In addition to dirt, rain, wind and cold, you also have to think about the unique challenges brought on by sun and sand. For example, you want to take extra precautions to ensure that sand doesn’t get in your food. Be sure to pack a rolling cooler if your campsite is far away from your car. Hard coolers are great for keeping out air, water and sand. The sun and humidity of the coast can also damage your food, so make sure you learn how to pack a cooler before you go.
3. Bring Plenty of Sun Shade
When you’re heading to your sandy campsite, you’ve got to pack for the beach as well as the wilderness. In addition to your bug spray and foul-weather gear, you’ve also got to double-down on sun protection. In the peak of the hot summer, the sun can be brutal and dangerous. Bring your canopies, beach umbrellas, sun protective clothing and tons of sunscreen.
4. Pay Attention to the Tide
You don’t want to pitch your tent and set up camp only to have the tide carry it away. As obvious as it sounds, make sure to set up your campsite safely above the high tide level. Always reference the tide charts in the region, talk to rangers and keep your eyes out for tide changes.
5. Leave No Trace
Just as you would deep in the woods or mountains, make sure to follow the principles of leave no trace when camping at the beach. Most importantly, make sure to take out everything you bring in, including all trash and waste. You might be tempted to use the endless sand around you to bury waste, but this can have massive ecological impacts, so resist the urge.
6. Build Your Beach Bonfire Responsibly
One of the only things as relaxing and enjoyable as the beach is a bonfire. Combine the two and you’ve got an instant outdoor utopia! Just make sure to build your beach bonfire according to the rules of the park or property owner. In general, you want to build a fire pit deep in the sand or use a ring of large rocks to keep the fire contained to a small area.
The Camping Trip of a Lifetime
Beach camping can be an extremely rewarding and enjoyable activity for solo travelers, families and groups of friends. As long as you read up on the rules and respect the natural landscape, you can look forward to the campout of a lifetime!