Camping on the beach can be an amazing experience, especially if the weather is good, the bugs are at bay, and you’ve taken the time to properly plan your trip.
However, if you don’t plan properly, it could be a camping trip that you would love to forget.
In this article, we’ve listed 25 awesome tips for camping on the beach that if used, will almost guarantee you the camping trip of a lifetime! We’ve included everything from how to plan for the weather and knowing the tides, to choosing the right tent and how to protect yourself from pesky bugs and critters.
15 Useful Hacks and Tips for Camping on The Beach
Camping can be a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy all that nature has to offer and beach camping is no exception! However, if you’ve never done this type of camping, there are some things that you need to know that will help make for a better camping experience.
So, whether you are planning a camping trip on the beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, or the white sand beaches of my home state in Florida, these tips will help you in your planning process.
1. Plan on The Weather
This may seem like a trivial tip that every camper should know, but you would be surprised at how many people do not properly plan when it comes to the weather, especially when camping on the beach.
If you live in Florida, then you know that in the summer, we have afternoon thunderstorms almost every afternoon around the same time. However, if you’ve never lived in Florida, you may not have a clue about this phenomenon if you didn’t do the proper research. I can tell you from experience that you do not want to get caught in one of these storms, especially while tent camping on the beach.
The other thing that can really wreak havoc on your trip is windy conditions! This is sort of a catch 22. While the wind can throw your tent around and whip up the beach sand so that it gets in every nook and canny, it also keeps the no-see-ums and the mosquitoes at bay.
My tip for camping on the beach in windy conditions is Not To, especially if the wind is blowing consistently over 10 mph.
2. Get Familiar With The Rules
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just pitch your tent on any beach of your choosing. In fact, most beaches are closed to beach camping. I highly recommend that you check with the Parks and Recreation Dept for the county/city that you plan on camping in. Also, while some places might allow you to camp on the beach, they will not allow you to build a campfire.
Please do not ignore this tip, as fines can be pretty hefty when violating this law.
3. Know The Tides and Tide Lines
Picture this…you arrive at your campsite and find the perfect spot on the beach to pitch your tent. Your tent is up, you’ve unpacked everything and are feeling pretty good about your camping skills. However, did you plan on the changing tides?
This has never happened to me, but I’ve heard stories of campers who did not plan for tide changes and were awaken in the middle of the night by cold water creeping into their tent. I cannot even imagine!
So, you need to know your beaches tides and how far that they usually rise when it’s high tide. A good way to know where the tide line is is to just look around for a water line. If you are still unsure, just ask a local how far the tide usually comes up. If they are around, a surfer, lifeguard or fisherman is without a doubt the best people to ask. If no one is around, ask a local bait shop worker.
4. Choose The Right Tent
Choose a tent that has plenty of shade!
Unless you’re camping on a tropical island paradise that’s lined with palm trees up and down the beach, shade is definitely going to be a hot commodity (pun intended).
Of course, any tent for camping will do, but then you might need to bring an additional canopy tent for some much-needed shade. After all, who wants to spend their day cramped up in a hot tent just so that they can get out of the sun?
The good news is that there are a few tents on the market that can make your camping trip that much more enjoyable. One, in particular, is the KingCamp 3-4 Person Beach Tent.
The thing that I like most about this tent is that not only is it a camping tent that can be used for overnight camping trips, but it also doubles as a beach cabana for those who just want to spend the day under the shade at the beach.
5. Know Where Not to Pitch Your Tent
We briefly touched on this with our earlier tips about knowing the tides, however, there are a few more things to consider before deciding on where to set up your tent.
Although convenient, it’s never a good idea to pitch your tent close to a trash can. Not only do they stink, but they also attract all kinds of bugs and critters, especially raccoon. Yes, raccoons live on the beach and they can be pretty aggressive when confronted, not to mention, extremely noisy when rummaging through the trash in the middle of the night.
Also, although it may be tempting, you never want to pitch your tent on the sand dunes! That’s because most sand dunes are protected wildlife sanctuaries and disturbing them can prompt a hefty fine.
I learned this the hard way (again, pun intended) but never pitch your tent under a palm tree that has coconuts! Although I didn’t get knocked out from falling coconuts, I thought I was gonna crap my pants when one of them fell on my tent in the middle of the night.
6. Make a Beach Camping Checklist
When you arrive at your campsite, you set up your tent, start unpacking your gear and supplies, and get ready to kick back with a cold drink in your favorite fold-up camping chair. There’s just one problem! You forgot to bring your favorite camping chair, and the sunscreen, the mosquito spray, and the propane for the gas grill.
Does this sound familiar?
Don’t worry because you’re not alone! It happens to us all. However, there is one way to prevent this from happening and that is to create a beach camping checklist and as your packing for your trip, check off each and every item.
A few things that you should always have, but somehow always forget include:
- Garbage Bags
- First Aid Kit
- Drinking Water
- Folding Chairs
- Plastic-Eating Utensils
- Bottle Opener
- Cell Phone Charger
- Water Shoes
- Paper Towels
- Cutting Board
- Filet Knife
- Tent Stakes
- Wet Wipes
- Duck Tape
- Board Games
- Glow Sticks
7. Protect Yourself From Pesky Bugs
Other than the wind and rain, the one thing that can ruin a beach camping trip, or any camping trip for that matter are the bugs, namely mosquitoes and no-see-ums. The blood-sucking little pests eat you alive and leave you with hundreds of tiny bites that will have you itching and scratching for days.
The best way to prevent their relentless assault on your flesh is to use a good quality bug repellent and since you’ll be camping on the beach and most likely be using sunscreen anyways, I suggest using a sunscreen that includes insect repellent such as Bull Frog’s Mosquito Coast Spray Sunscreen with Insect Repellent.
Another option that will help keep the bugs at bay is mosquito repellent candles. I personally haven’t had much success with them, but know a few campers who swear by them. The candle that I hear works the best is the Cutter Citro Guard Candle.
It also might be a good idea to purchase a mosquito net to hang in your tent.
8. Buy Long Tent Stakes or Use This Camping Hack
Most standard tent stakes just won’t cut it when camping in soft sand, especially if you have any kind of wind. While you can buy longer tent stakes like the Beach-N-Sand Stake tent stake that’s made specifically for camping on the beach or in ultra sandy conditions, there is also another way which I find to be more helpful.
You basically tie your tent line to piece of wood at least 12″ long, dig a hole 1-2′ deep and bury the wood. To adjust you can roll your tent line around the wood.
After camping many times on the beach and by the lake, I’ve found that this works much better than most tent stakes.
9. Bring Your Own Firewood
Unless you’re camping on a beach that’s surrounded by a dense forest, chances are you’re not going to find much wood to start a fire with. If you’re lucky, you might find some driftwood along the beach, but I wouldn’t count on it.
If you can’t cut and pack your own firewood, you may want to buy some. You can get a stack of firewood on Amazon for as little as $25 a pack. Believe me when I say that this can save you a lot of time and frustration when it’s time to get a campfire started.
10. Make Sure to Bring a Sleeping Pad
All beaches are not made up of white sand beaches! Some are in fact a little rocky, which could make for an extremely uncomfortable night of sleep. I highly recommend that you invest in a good quality sleeping pad, that’s also waterproof.
11. Always Think Waterproof When Beach Camping
In case you haven’t thought about this, camping on the beach can be a wet experience! After all, there’s a good chance you’ll be camping in the summer, which means heat and humidity, ocean spray, water, rain, and fog.
This means that you need to bring plenty of zip lock bags to store all of your electronics in, such as cell phones, battery chargers, etc.
12. Don’t Forget the Chap-stick
Most people already know how important it is to use plenty of sunscreen when camping on the beach, but few remember to use lip balm or Chap-stick. Your lips are extremely sensitive and being exposed to hours in the hot sun can cause extreme dryness, which can lead to cracked lips.
13. Bring Plenty of Beach Activities
Although camping on the beach is an activity in itself, eventually, boredom is bound to set in. Make sure that you bring plenty of outdoor games to keep you and the kids entertained.
Some things to consider include:
- Snorkel Gear
- Fishing Poles
- Boogie Boards
- Bucket and Shovel
14. Invest in a Sand-free Beach Mat to Keep Sand Out
You’re camping on the beach, so it’s inevitable that you will get sand inside your tent. The trick is to limit how much sand sneaks in. One way that I’ve found to be extremely helpful is to invest in a “sand-free beach mat.”
While they are not 100% effective in keeping out the sand (as some brands would suggest), they do help considerably. The that I recommend is the CGEAR SAND-FREE MAT. It’s made from the same high tech technology that is used by the military for helicopter landing pads in the desert.
15. Invest in a Beach Cart or Make Your Own
Unless you can pull your car right up to your campsite, chances are you’re going to have to lug all of your gear through the hot beach sand on your way to your destination. If you’ve ever done this before, then you know how hard, not to mention aggravating this can be.
That’s why I suggest that you either buy a good quality beach cart such as the Mac Sports Heavy Duty Collapsible Folding Beach Wagon or if you’re the handy type, build your own.
16. Know Your Bathroom Options
Most beach campsites are very primitive, so finding a place to use the restroom can be a challenge in itself! If you’re lucky, there will be a porta-potty nearby or a public restroom for weekend beachgoers.
However, if you’re camping off the beaten path, you’re gonna have to make some other arrangements! One option is to use the Go Anywhere Toilet Kit. They come with everything you need to go potty and the best part is, it is perfectly okay to throw them in the trash when finished.
17. Have a Plan for Your Pets
While it may seem like a good idea to bring “Fido” along, but there are some things to consider beforehand. The first thing to consider is if the beach campsite that you’re planning on camping at even allows dogs/pets on the beach. This sort of falls in line with my tip number two of “knowing the rules.”
The second thing that you need to think about is your dog’s well-being. Will they really have as much fun as you think they will have? After all, the beach is hot, especially the sand and since dogs obviously don’t wear shoes (some do, but that’s beside the point), their bare feet will constantly be exposed to the hot sand. Also, since there aren’t too many options for shade on the beach, finding a cool place to cool off can be a challenge for them.
If you still want to bring your dog, make sure to bring plenty of extra water for them to drink, an extra tent for them to sleep in, and plenty of poop bags to dispose of their waste.
Beach camping is a great way to get outside and explore all that nature has to offer! There’s nothing like spending the day in the surf and sand, then once the sun goes down, sit around your campfire, dining on the fresh catch of the day, while sipping your favorite adult beverage. And once it’s time for bed, you’ll fall asleep under the stars, while listening to the waves roll in off the ocean.
If this sounds like something you would like to do, then I encourage you to follow these 15 tips for camping on the beach. I can assure you that they will make planning and camping experience much more enjoyable!
Do you have a camping tip or hack that you would like to share with us? If so, we would love for you to leave a comment in the comment section below.