What Is Beach Camping Like? (And How to Prepare for It)

Are you interested in beach camping but aren’t quite sure what it’ll really be like? Many people feel overwhelmed at the prospect of learning how to camp on the sandy seashore, but it can be a fun and relaxing experience if you know what to expect.

Beach camping requires preparation for bugs, sand, water, and sun. You’ll need to pack sturdy equipment, including your tent, folding chair, and table. Check the rules at your beach for fires, and bring a sleeping pad to make you more comfortable on the hard sand. Don’t forget dunes are off-limits.

If you want to know what you can expect from your first beach camping trip, these guidelines will help you come as prepared as possible.

What to Expect When Beach Camping

Beach camping can be a fun experience, but you must be prepared for the environment you’ll be entering. It shares a few similarities with camping at a traditional campsite.

However, there are some unique aspects of beach camping that you should prepare for. Here is what you need to know to give you a better idea of what to expect when beach camping.

1. Prepare for the Bugs

The first thing that you may want to do when beach camping is preparing for the bugs that can infiltrate your tent.

Especially if you are camping in the south, you’ll find lots of no-see-ums and even mosquitos at the beach. In addition to generous layers of sunscreen, you’ll want to apply insect spray to keep bites at bay.

Another option would be to install a mosquito net inside your tent so that bugs don’t bother you while you sleep.

Prepare for the Bugs

2. Pay Attention to Tides

You might think you’ve landed on the ideal spot to pitch your tent, but have you thought about the tides? The water can get quite high on the sandy shore if you aren’t paying attention to it.

Always pay attention to the tideline and park your tent farther back. You won’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to discover that all of your gear is underwater.

3. Stay Off the Sand

There’s no way around it – sand will get in every crevice of your gear. That being said, most people try to avoid this as much as possible.

Instead of sleeping directly on the sand, opt to use a tent with a floor that keeps you up and away. Before sleeping at night, use a small broom and dustpan to sweep loose sand off the floor and out of your tent.

Do check out my guide on the best tents for beach camping for some solid recommendations.

Stay Off the Sand

4. Pack a Sturdy Tent

You might not want a thick or sturdy tent during the oppressive summer heat. This can prove problematic for you when the winds start to blow.

A flimsy tent won’t withstand the high winds that can occur on the beach. Make sure to pack a sturdy tent, even if you think it’ll be too warm in the sunshine.

You’ll be glad you erred on the side of caution when your tent doesn’t collapse. 

5. Stay Back from Sand Dunes

Those dunes far back from the water look like a pristine place to pitch a tent. Steer clear of these areas, though.

Most beaches have protections for the dunes, which are home to various kinds of wildlife. Beach camping might be free, but you’ll face a serious fine for camping out in the dunes.

Read some more cool beach camping tips in my article on the same to elevate your experience.

Stay Back from Sand Dunes

6. Pack a Chair and Table

At first, you might think it sounds great to lay in the sand and lounge around. Eventually, you’ll grow tired of being surrounded by sand and want to sit up.

While you can’t get around having your feet in the sand, you can keep it out of your creases and crevices by sitting in a folding chair. You’ll be glad for the addition to your equipment.

Want some great folding chair options? Check out my article on the Best Folding Chairs for Your Camping Needs.

Not to mention, you might want somewhere you can eat or play a game of cards. In addition to a folding chair, you’ll also want a small surface to balance a plate.

This could be a short container or a folding table, depending on what you want to do with it. 

7. Prepare for Water Everywhere

Sand isn’t the only thing you need to be concerned about when camping on the beach. You also need to consider which items you’re bringing will be problematic if they get wet.

Remedy this situation with waterproof bags that can keep your gear dry, including your phone and wallet.

If you don’t want to invest in a bag for this purpose, disposable sandwich bags will also do the trick. Keep them sealed to keep ocean spray out of your expensive gadgets.

Prepare for Water Everywhere

8. Check the Rules for Fires

Not all beaches allow you to set up a fire on the sand. Check the rules at your local site and follow them to the letter. Some may require you to start fires in a metal ring to keep them from getting out of hand.

If camping on a popular beach destination, you might already find some of these rings. Another tip for starting a fire is to prepare your own firewood.

You may have difficulty finding something to burn on a barren beach. Even if you can find driftwood, it might not be enough to sustain you for a weekend trip.

It’s better to be prepared to cook or keep warm with your fire. 

9. Sleeping on Sand

Does the idea of sleeping on the sand fill you with visions of luxurious comfort? The bad news is that sleeping on the sand may not be as comfortable as you think.

You’ll face shells and rocks underneath your back that can make it uncomfortable at best. Not to mention, packed sand is far from ideal as a sleeping surface.

To combat the discomfort, you may feel like camping on the sand, so always pack a thick sleeping pad.

This also doubles as insulation to keep your body heat from transferring to the sand in the chillier weather. It’s a must-have for beach camping when the weather is cool.

Check out my Best Sleeping Pads guide to buy the perfect one for your needs.

Sleeping on Sand

10. Lounging Around

When you plan your first beach camping trip, it might sound luxurious to spend all day lounging in the sun.

This can be fun for the first few hours you’re on the beach, but it might not be as appealing by day two. Always pack some fun activities or plan some things to do.

You can make a plan to rent a paddleboard, fly a kite, toss a frisbee with friends, or bring other backyard games such as Bocce ball.

I have a whole guide on fun activities for beach camping to load you with ideas.

Preparation Is the Key to a Great Beach Camping Experience…

Camping on the beach is loads of fun, but only if you’re prepared for what it’ll be like. At first, it can sound like a tropical getaway full of fun and relaxation.

However, you’ll quickly find that you grow bored of the beach if you aren’t careful to prepare.

These tips to help you understand what to expect will certainly help you on the way to a successful camping trip that you’ll remember forever.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with his pet bunny when not out in the woods, exploring the infinite beauty of mother nature.

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