Are you planning to go camping this summer and looking for the best beach camping tips to make your trip successful?
We have had the luxury of camping on many beaches up and down the east coast and have successfully learned a thing or two about beach camping.
And we are sharing tips, tricks, and beach camping essentials you need to know that we have learned along the way.
Beach camping offers a unique outdoor experience that combines nature's beauty with the shore's comforts. With the sun, sand, and the soothing sound of the waves, it's no wonder that beach camping is becoming a popular choice for travelers and adventurers alike.
However, there are some unique challenges and considerations that you should keep in mind to make the most out of your trip. By following these 31 beach camping tips, you'll be on your way to a relaxing and enjoyable beachside getaway.
Before you Go: Choosing the Right Beach Campsite
1. Research and Location
Before embarking on your beach camping trip and before you pitch your tent, it's important to research the different beach campsite options available. Consider factors such as proximity to the ocean, campsite amenities, and nearby attractions.
Investigate the permitting requirements and check for any seasonal restrictions affecting your trip.
There are many fantastic beach camping areas in the United States, from your local state park to wild camping.
For example, if you want to go camping on the sand, check out Assateague National Seashore, which has campsites on the sand.
Hither Hills, located in Montauk, NY, on the other hand, has tent sites that are on the grass and have a concrete picnic area so you can avoid the hassle of getting as much sand everywhere while still enjoying the smell of seawater and the amazing sunrise on the beach from your tent.
2. Weather Forecast and Tides
In addition to selecting the perfect location, planning your trip around the weather forecast and tides is essential. Depending on the time of the year, beach camping can be affected by factors like strong winds, hot weather, or even hurricanes.
Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Obtain weather forecast information from reliable sources like NOAA.
- Be aware of high-tide and low-tide schedules
- Account for seasonal changes that may affect the beach.
- Look for a campsite that provides natural windbreaks and shade.
By being informed and prepared for the weather and tide conditions, your beach camping experience will be safer and more enjoyable
What to Pack: Essential Beach Camping Gear
3. Invest in a tent for beach camping.
Having the right tent for your beach camping adventure can make a big difference. Days and nights can get windy, and it's not uncommon for there to be a random shower or storm at any time of the day.
Look for a tent with a rainfly and sand stakes to ensure stability and protection from the elements when preparing for your beach camping trip.
Depending on whether your site is on the sand or the ground for a comfortable night's sleep, bring along a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag suitable for the temperature range you'll be experiencing.
Tarps can provide additional shelter and protection if you expect strong winds or potential rain.
PPP Tip: Before heading out, pretreat your tent and gear with Ranger Ready Permethrin 0.5%. Permethrin kills insects like mosquitos, ticks, and even bed bugs upon contact and lasts up to 40 days or five washes.
4. Prepare for a good night's rest.
Getting a good night's rest is essential, and while you can easily fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing near, you also want it to be a comfortable night's rest.
When creating a comfortable sleeping area, you first want to decide whether you want to have a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, air mattress, or cot.
Once you have decided on your sleeping arrangements, add a little bit more comfortable with extras such as a plush pillow, earplugs, and an eye mask.
PPP Tip: If you are camping on the east coast of the United States, skip the eye mask and wake up to the sunrise. Trust me. It's well worth it.
5. Be prepared for the elements.
Being on the beach means that you need to be prepared for unexpected storms.
While camping on the beach, you can be exposed to various weather conditions, so it's essential to be prepared.
Of course, you want to avoid camping during inclement weather however, sometimes unexpected storms can happen, so you will want to bring along a few things to make things more comfortable if the weather takes a turn.
Pack extra tarps for added rain protection. Also, the temperatures can drop at night, and it can get windy, so having extra stakes as well as extra layers to stay warm is important.
6. Shade and Sun Protection
Sun protection is crucial while beach camping. It's not something you may think of if you are used to camping in shady wooded areas.
Add a beach umbrella or portable shade structure for your campsite. Also, remember to bring sunscreen with a high SPF, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face.
It's also a good idea to have lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants for additional sun protection.
7. Mosquito Repellent
Mosquitoes, sand fleas, and ticks can be a nuisance during beach camping, so pack effective mosquito repellent.
Our favorite is Ranger Ready with Picaridin 20%. This DEET-free bug repellent offers 12 hours of protection against mosquitos and ticks and is safe to use on your skin.
8. Cooking and Campfire Equipment
Preparing meals and staying warm during beach camping requires the right equipment. Bring a portable camp stove or grill suitable for beach use, and pack a set of cooking utensils and dishes to enjoy your meals.
If you plan to build a campfire, familiarize yourself with any fire pit regulations for the area and carry a firestarter, firewood, and a folding shovel for safety.
PPP Tip: Know before you go. Some state parks have restrictions in place around campfires, so if you plan to bring firewood or want to do some campfire cooking, make sure you are aware of any restrictions the campsite you are visiting may have in place.
9. Invest in a sand-free beach mat.
You will be surprised where you find sand, so create a sand-free zone by setting up a space with a sand-free mat. This mat will protect your belongings from the sand and keep you comfortable.
10. Bring a first-aid kit.
A first aid kit is a must for any camping adventure. From cuts to scrapes, minor injuries are bound to happen while beach camping.
Bring basic first aid supplies, such as bandages, antibiotic ointment, and other medications you normally keep in your medicine cabinet. We also always keep a travel-sized bug repellent in our first aid kit because you never know when it will come in handy.
11. Pack a trash bag or portable trash can.
Many campsites do not have trash receptacles, so bring your own. You don’t want to be that person that leaves a mess. Let’s protect our beautiful beaches and campgrounds.
Leave no trace and leave your beach campsite as you found it by packing a trash bag to collect and dispose of all waste properly.
12. Bring a beach cart
Some beach campsites may be off the beaten path, so be prepared to walk a bit to your site.
Packing all the necessary equipment can be tricky, so bring a beach cart to help make your trek from the car to the campsite easier. Look for beach carts with larger wheels that are easier to maneuver in the sand and on uneven surfaces.
13. Bring an extra cooler for ice.
Most beaches do not have the natural sunshade you might find in the woods, meaning ice will only last for a short time in your cooler.
Bringing extra ice is an excellent way to keep your food and drinks cold throughout your trip. Be sure to bring an extra cooler with just ice for this purpose.
14. Pack extra fresh water.
Whatever amount of water you normally bring on a camping trip. Double it.
The sun and salt water can dehydrate you quickly, so staying hydrated is essential during your beach camping trip. Pack plenty of fresh water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
Setting Up Your Campsite
15. Picking the Ideal Spot
When selecting the perfect spot for your campsite, consider a few crucial factors. To avoid water accumulation should it rain, look for a flat and vegetation-free area, ideally with good drainage.
If you can, try to find a location sheltered from direct sunlight with adequate shade or enough space to set up your own shade.
Additionally, consider setting up away from the water’s edge or high tide line. Maintaining a safe distance from the water is essential to prevent any unwanted encounters with wildlife or sudden changes in the tide.
16. Stay off the Sand Dunes.
Beaches are dynamic places, and it is essential to remember not to disturb the delicate sand dune ecosystem. The sand dunes protect the beaches from erosion and provide habitats for wildlife, so be sure to avoid sand dunes and stay off of them when setting up camp.
17. Staking the Tent on Sand
Pitching your tent on the sand can be tricky. To secure your tent firmly, opt for longer, more robust tent stakes designed explicitly for sandy conditions. When staking your tent, angle the stakes away from the tent to provide better grip and stabilization.
18. Creating Shade and Wind Protection
To stay comfortable in your beach campsite, creating adequate shade and wind protection is crucial. One effective solution is to install a tarp over your tent – ensure there's enough gap between your tent and the tarp to allow for proper airflow. This can be achieved by suspending an oversized tarp over your tent.
In addition, you can make use of windbreakers, like portable windscreens or temporary fences, around your campsite to block the wind and sand.
Beach camping can be a fantastic experience when you know how to set up your campsite efficiently. With these tips in mind, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any challenge the beach environment might throw and enjoy a comfortable, safe, and memorable camping trip.
19. Follow the rules and Regulations.
When beach camping, following any posted rules and regulations is essential. These guidelines may cover where to set up your tent, not camping on the dunes, and sticking to established trails.
Some campgrounds also have restrictions on car camping, tent camping, and RV parking, so make sure you know before you go.
20. Check the Weather
We mentioned this before, but always check the weather forecast before embarking on your beach camping trip.
Be prepared for sudden weather changes, as storms and strong winds can occur unexpectedly. Pack appropriate clothing and gear to withstand various weather conditions. In extreme weather, know the location of nearby shelters or alternate camping spots.
21. Check the Tides
Understanding the tides is a critical aspect of beach camping. Set your campsite well away from the waterline to avoid being caught off-guard by rising tides. Familiarize yourself with the local tide schedule and be mindful of potential changes affecting your campsite safety.
22. Lifeguard Presence and Swim Safety
One of the great things about beach camping is easy access to the water. Before jumping into the water, take note of any lifeguard presence on the beach. It's safer to swim at beaches with lifeguards on duty. Especially ocean beaches.
Additionally, be aware of dangerous currents, rip tides, or hazards like rocks and coral. If you're a surfer or participating in water sports, exercise caution, pay attention to fellow beachgoers, and obey posted signs.
While enjoying your beach camping adventure, always prioritize safety. By adhering to regulations, monitoring the weather and tides, and practicing swim safety, you can have a fun and memorable experience.
Fun Beach Camping Activities
23. Fishing and Water Sports
If you are an avid fishing enthusiast, beach camping provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy your hobby. Bring your fishing gear, and check the local regulations beforehand.
You can also try water sports such as surfing, paddle boarding, or kayaking to add excitement to your beach camping trip. Some campgrounds will even offer rentals, and in our experience, they are usually very budget-friendly.
And as always, pay attention to the tide charts and water lines to ensure safety during these activities.
24. Campfires and Bonfires
One of the highlights of beach camping is the chance to gather around a campfire or bonfire and enjoy the warmth during the cool summer beach nights.
Besides roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, you can use this time to share stories, sing songs, and create lasting memories with your fellow campers.
Ensure you follow local guidelines for starting fires, and never leave them unattended.
Some tips for a safe and enjoyable campfire experience:
- Bring a fire pit or fire ring if local regulations allow.
- Collect dry driftwood or other wood for the fire (some campgrounds will not allow you to bring in your own wood, so check before you arrive).
- Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Respect local regulations and fire bans.
25. Stargazing and Night Activities
Beach camping offers a unique opportunity for stargazing, as the night sky is usually much clearer than in urban areas. Relax on your beach mat, and marvel at the stars.
Try to identify familiar constellations or even spot a shooting star. If you have access to one, bring a telescope or binoculars for a more immersive experience.
Additionally, you can plan fun night activities such as flashlight tag, capture the flag, or nighttime scavenger hunts. Bring enough flashlights and extra batteries, and be mindful of other nearby campers needing rest.
By incorporating these activities into your beach camping trip, you will make the most of your time near the water, have fun, and create lasting memories with friends and family.
Additional Beach Camping Tips and Tricks
26. Protecting Valuables
When camping at a beach campground, protecting your valuables is essential. Store your electronic devices, wallet, and important documents in a waterproof, sand-proof bag or container.
Ensure you keep the container in a safe spot like locked in your vehicle or hidden in your RV.
27. Beach Comfort Essentials
We talked about some of these before, but for an enjoyable camping experience, bring beach essentials like water shoes to protect your feet and a portable shade structure for protection from the sun.
Remember hydration and sunburn protection during your trip; pack sunscreen, water bottles, and electrolyte replacement solutions. And don’t forget your bug repellent.
28. Bring a Small Broom and Dust Pan
Bring a small broom and dustpan to maintain a clean and sand-free living area in your tent or RV. Sweep the floor regularly, focusing on the entryway and sleeping areas. Setting up two small rugs on either side of the entrance will also help to prevent sand from getting everywhere.
29. Set up an Outdoor Rug
Consider placing an outdoor rug near your tent or RV entrance to create a comfortable area for relaxation. An outdoor rug does double duty by helping reduce the amount of sand tracked into your living space and creating another cool place to spend time.
30. Place a Water Bucket in the Entryway
Fill a small bucket with water and put it near your beach campsite entrance. Encourage family and friends to rinse off their feet before entering your space, minimizing the need for extra clean-up.
Remember to rinse with fresh water daily, as salt and sand on your skin might cause chafing and dryness.
31. Leave No Trace Principles
While visiting beach campgrounds do your part in preserving the environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Dispose of waste properly, minimize campfire impact, respect wildlife, and leave your campsite in the same condition you found.
- Pack out all trash
- Minimize campfire impact
- Respect wildlife and plants
- Leave the site as you found it
Beach Camping Tips: FAQs
How to safely camp on the beach?
To ensure a safe beach camping experience, follow these guidelines:
- Choose a designated beach campsite with a solid reputation and proper facilities.
- Check the weather forecast and tide schedules before your trip.
- Keep your campsite above the high-tide line and away from hazards like cliffs or rocks.
- Always have a first-aid kit and emergency supplies on hand.
- Stay aware of your surroundings, especially at night, and avoid swimming when it's dark.
What should you take camping on a beach?
When camping on the beach, ensure you pack the following essentials:
- A durable, wind-resistant tent with a floor.
- Sleeping gear, including sleeping bags and comfortable pads or mattresses.
- Warm clothing and layers for cool nights
- Adequate food, water, and coolers for cold drinks.
- Sunscreen, insect repellent, and other personal care items.
- Camping chairs, beach umbrellas, or shade canopies.
- Trash bags and recycling containers to manage your waste.
How do you make beach camping fun?
To make your beach camping trip more enjoyable, consider the following ideas:
- Bring along water sports equipment like paddleboards, kayaks, or beach balls.
- Try underwater activities such as snorkeling or diving.
- Include beach games like frisbee, volleyball, or bocce ball.
- Enjoy evenings by the water, sharing stories, playing music, or roasting marshmallows over a campfire.
- Explore nearby trails, parks, or attractions during the day.
Is it OK to take a tent to the beach?
Yes, it's absolutely fine to bring a tent to the beach. When camping on the beach, prioritize a double-walled tent with a floor and wind-resistant tent. Larger tents can offer more space and stay cooler in direct sunlight.
Preparing for the best beach camping trip
We love camping, and we especially love beach camping. But it does come with a little bit of planning and preparation.
As you prepare for your beach camping adventure, it's essential to consider factors such as weather and location. This will help you come up with a beach camping packing list that is appropriate for the location and your needs.
For example, you may want to pack warm clothes, as temperatures can drop dramatically at night, and choose materials that can better withstand the elements.
In addition to your physical comfort, remember essential safety precautions, such as using appropriate sun protection for your skin and lips, as well as applying bug repellent to prevent bug bites.
By being mindful of these tips and staying informed about your specific beach camping destination, you will have a wonderful and memorable experience.