Many under estimate camping at the beach. The coolest thing about camping at the beach is that most of the time you get it almost entirely to yourself. Also, the views are great. Many people pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for the same view and the sound of waves crashing in the background.
Beach camping is definitely more challenging than camping in the mountains for various reasons. One of the biggest issues is that there are no trees to provide shade. The only way to escape the sun is to bring your own shade or go into your tent. You may find that on hot days, the inside of your tent is hotter and more humid than the outdoors.
The best thing to do is to buy a pop up canopy. These provide a good amount of shade for you to relax under and enjoy the view at the same time. If you do purchase a pop up canopy, be sure you have something to tie it down. Often times, the ocean breeze can blow it away if not tied down correctly.
If you don’t want to purchase a pop up canopy, a large umbrella like this is your next best bet. Tarps and rope don’t typically work like they do in the mountains because there is nothing to tie them too. Another great option is something like this.
If you are spending more than a day or two camping on the beach, you are going to need more than sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. You will need clothing that is actually going to block the sun. Sun hats, long sleeve shirts, and pants are best for blocking the sun. You can also bring sun sleeves if you don’t want to wear a long sleeve shirt.
Keep Sand Out
Sand is your enemy when it comes to your gear. It is a whole lot easier to keep sand out of your tent and sleeping bag then to get it out when you get home. Even just one grain of sand can damage your gear, especially when it comes to zippers. Be prepared to wipe yourself and clothes off before getting into your tent. Bring a hand broom and dustpan to sweep out your tent when needed. It is a good idea to leave as many things outside your tent as possible so you don’t drag sand in. When you get home, be prepared to clean your gear because it is inevitable that some sand can still be in there. Check out this post to learn how to properly clean your tent.
Driving on Sand
Driving on sand isn’t hard and pretty much any vehicle can handle it. Of course, the best vehicle for the job is something with four-wheel drive. The most important thing is to keep your momentum when entering soft or deep sand. If you plan to camp in a remote area, away from the help others, you’ll need a few tools to ensure you won’t get stuck. Check out this post for ten essential tools you must have when off-roading.
Setting Up Camp
If this is your first time camping, save yourself a lot of hassle and visit an organized campsite. They’ll have things like toilets, electricity and running water. You’ll typically find more enjoyment with these amenities around for your first time.
If you are looking for more of an adventure, setting up camp on or near the sand dunes is going to be your best bet for wind protection and seclusion. Not only that, many people are drawn to the dunes because the greenery is very pretty. Be sure to research your state, region or area of travel ahead of time because not all beaches permit camping on or near the dunes. Sand dunes are a sanctuary to many animals. It is important to follow the rules so you don’t disturb the animals or their home. If the area is being protected, there is probably a good reason for it.
If you plan to camp right on the beach next to the ocean, you will need to think about low and high tides. You do not want to be woken up by water rushing into your tent. You can usually tell how high the tide has been by looking at the texture and color of the sand. Be sure to set up your camp well into the dry, lighter colored sand to be safe.
You will need longer tent stakes to secure your tent when in sand. It is important to get your tent stake deep enough to get past the loose sand and into something more firm. Shorter tent stakes will easily pull out of the ground if a gust of wind comes along. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have longer stakes, be sure to dig down to the firmer dirt before putting your stake into the ground.
You won’t find an abundance of wood at the beach like there is in the mountains to build a fire. If you are lucky, you might be in a place where there is a lot of driftwood, but often times this will be too wet to burn. It may be a good idea to bring your own, or go to a local gas station or supermarket and purchase some. Check out this post to learn more campfire building techniques.
Also, unless there are designated rings, you will need to bring a shovel to dig out a fire pit. Digging a hole creates an even surface to start your fire, and helps keep the fire contained and out of the wind.
Secure your Food
Many know that you have to secure your food from wildlife while in the mountains. You may not think you have to do the same when camping on the beach. Most beaches have an abundance of wildlife, including raccoons. It may be a good idea to bury your food in a canister, or lock it away in your car when away from your camp or sleeping.
In a remote area, lifeguards won’t be on watch, your phone may not have great reception and any help of any kind may be hours away. It is important to make conservative choices and use the buddy system when in the water. Always have an action plan in place to deal with emergencies.
Out in the hot sun, hydration becomes a major issue. Each person should pack and plan to drink at least one gallon of water per day. Dehydration can be very dangerous, especially if you are hours away from help.