A Guide to Summer Camping on the Beach

©istockphoto/Sam Camp

©istockphoto/Sam Camp

Summer is in full swing and that means there are many great opportunities to spend a night out on the beach! Camping on the sand is a bit different from the woods, so it’s important to take proper precautions ahead of time. To maximize your fun and minimize your hassle, keep these tips in mind.

Choose the Right Beach
Beachside camping is actually pretty illegal on most public beaches, so you’ve to plan ahead on where you’re going to go. You’ll find some of the best spots away from popular touristy beaches so don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. Also, be sure to research the local wildlife and make sure it’s safe, both for you and for the critters or call the area home.

Pitch a Tent
Contrary to what many romance movies might lead you to believe, sleeping on the sand is not a comfortable experience; you’re just going to wake up with wads of it stuck in crevices you didn’t even know your body had. It’s a great way to get a rash. Instead, set up a tent on the beach far enough away from the water to avoid the changing tides. If there are dunes around be sure to park it behind them, otherwise the wind might be blowing it up against you all night.

Leave No Impact
Some folks might recommend leaving your waste buried under the sand or washing up in the seawater when you need a shower, but both of these acts negatively impact the environment. If you bring it with you to the beach, it’s your responsibility to take when you leave. Bring along a sealable trash bag, clean with biodegradable soap near your campsite, and dispose of wastewater on dry land.

Don’t Build a Fire
It’s likely illegal to build a fire on the beach, but even if it’s not you and the environment will be better served with a portable stove. The reason being that beaches create windy circumstance that could easily cause your fire to spread. A stove also lessens the amount of harmful emissions that are sent into the air. Plus, the just cook faster than a fire anyway.

Bring your Gear Inside
Beaches are magnets for cool, damp weather—and leaving your clothes, backpacks and other gear outside your tent overnight is a recipe for disaster. Dew will build up quickly and you’ll wake up with damp gear. Not only is this uncomfortable to deal with, but wearing moist clothes can help make you sick; and if you don’t dry everything out completely, you’re asking for mold.

Make Sure Water is Nearby
By this, we mean drinkable water. Ocean water is full of salt and cannot be consumed, so don’t count on it to keep you hydrated. Even if you bring along your own bottles it’s still helpful to have an alternative water supply nearby. Pack a filtration system and some iodine pills just in case you run out and need to refill.

Bring Along a Broom and Dustpan
It might sound silly, but you’ll be thanking us for this later. If you’ve ever been to the beach, then you know that sand gets on everything. It’s going to get inside your tent, on your stove, and your clothes, so having a broom and dustpan on hand will do wonders with helping you stay clean.

Bundle Up
Camping next to the beach, even in the summer, can be an uncomfortable experience if you don’t bring along the right clothes. The temperature tends to drop substantially next to the ocean and the same trunks and tank top you wore doing the day simply won’t be enough. Pack along a sweater and some warm blankets to help keep you from freezing in the middle of the night.

Don’t Swim at Night
While it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself living out a reenactment of Jaws during our summer camping trip, you don’t really want to push your luck. There are no lifeguards on duty once the sun goes down, the currents tend to be stronger and you won’t be able to see if something is, in fact, swimming your way. Save the swimming for the sunshine and use the night to tell epic ghost stories on the beach.

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