A tent camping on the beach

How to Camp at the Beach: Beach Camping for Beginners

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There is no such thing as waking up on the wrong side of the beach, not gonna happen.

Waking up early in the morning with the sound of waves crashing on the beach just a few feet from you and the sun just beginning to shine. Stepping out of your tent with warm sand between your toes, crystal clear water just in front of you, and a relaxing day at the beach ahead of you.

There is something about waking up at the beach that gives you a new lease on life to start the day. It’s impossible to deny how theraputic the sounds of waves crashing against the beach.

Waking up at the beach is awesome and understanding how to camp at the beach is an easy way to make this dream a reailty.

Tropical beach with the sun shining on a sandy beach

11 Beach camping tips for beginners

Camping beachside with the sounds of the ocean and the sand beneath your feet is a dream come true. The best part is you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for a week of beachfront property. All you need is your camping gear and an adventurous spirit.

1. Location, location, location

Beachfront properties are some of the most valuable pieces of property on the planet due to the high demand. That translates into limited options for finding a beach camping location, just be aware of local rules and regulations. The last thing you need is a rude awakening in the middle of the night, followed by a heft trespassing fine.

The safest option is to find an established beach camping site. Not only will you have modern facilities such as toilets, trash cans, and running water. You won’t have to worry about breaking any local laws.

For those of you who like to take a walk on the wild side and want to get as remote as possible finding a spot can be half the adventure.

A big hurdle with wild camping is that much of the property is private and without permission, you may be in violation of the law.

With that being said here are some tips for wild beach camping…

  • Sleep without a tent
  • Pack extremely light
  • If you use a tent, no bright colors
  • Keep the noise down
  • Scout the area in the daytime
  • Stay out of sight of houses and roads

2. Gear for the beach

Camping at the beach brings a variation to the setting that most of us are used to. There are a few things that you need to pack to make your beach days as comfortable and smooth as possible.

This is a camping trip, after all, so you’re going to include the basics. A tent, sleeping bag, stove… You get the idea.

You also want to include…

  • Hand brush and dustpan
  • Sand stakes
  • Beach towels
  • Swim gear
  • Floaties
  • Shovel

3. UV protection

Often overlooked and sorely missed…

Sunscreen is one of those things that is easy to forget.  It’s nice to work on your tan and all that, however, UV protection is about more than preventing a sunburn. Even if you have managed to find a spot in the shade sunscreen is your best friend.

According to the WHO, repeated exposure to UV radiation can cause a number of degenerative changes in the blood vessels, skin, and cells. We all know someone or know of someone who has been affected by cancer, and skin cancer is caused in part by overexposure to UV radiation.

Not to mention that guy or gal who has obviously spent way to much time basking in the sun and has an orangy brown leather look going on. Pack sunscreen and pack a lot of it.

Tides on a rocky beach rising

4. Be wary of the tides

Keep track of the tides and be mindful of where you set up your campsite when camping next to the ocean. If you look closely you should be able to tell roughly where the tides stop, within a couple feet.

Avoid camping anywhere in the tidal-zone unless you like waking up covered in water in the middle of the night. It may be tempting to set up your site right next to the water until you wake up with wet in the middle of the night.

Just take a look at the beach and aim for high ground that is well beyond where the tides may reach. If you don’t know the beach that well, or can’t tell, staying further away is always your best bet.

Tides Near Me is a great website for finding out exactly when the tides rise and fall.

5. Find some shade

Whether you sleep in the sand, in a tent, or on a hammock you are going to want a break from the sun. Look for a location that some shade coverage so you have a place to hide out when necessary.

The afternoon sun is brutal and having a shady place to hideout is a nice respite from those afternoon scorchers. Bringing along a sun shelter that you can prop up and chill out in is another option if you can’t find any shade. Most sun shelters are large enough to cover an 8 foot by 8 foot area which is large enough for small groups.

6. Cooking at the beach

Meals on the beach bring to mind white tablecloths, sand between your feet, and glowing sunsets with a kaleidoscope of colors. Cooking while camping at the beach is a whole other story.

Whenever your cooking at the beach the first thing to be concerned with is local burn bans and rules on beach fires. A good solution to avoid violating any burn bans is to use a gas-powered stove for all your campsite cooking needs.

If you go the open fire route, it is good practice to dig a hole to protect against winds and set up some rocks around your makeshift fire pit. Always pour water on any remaining embers to ensure that the fire is 100% extinguished.

7. Pooping at the beach

If you are using an established campsite with the usual facilities you can skip this section.

Pooping at the beach can get a little tricky especially if you do not have access to toilets. There are a general set of rules when pooping outside that are detailed in the leave no trace guidelines and apply anytime you go number 2 outdoors.

Stay 200 feet away from any water sources and dig a hole around 6 inches deep. After you finish, fill the hole back up. There’s an old saying “If you can see it or smell it, you’re doing it wrong.”

Consider the people around you… If there’s anything worse than stepping in dog shit, it’s stepping in human shit.

A campfire on the beach

8. Beachside campfires

One of the best parts of camping at the beach is enjoying a campfire at the end of a long day in the sun. The sound of the fire coupled with the waves crashing against the shore is the perfect background track to the stories of the day.

First things first, make sure that you are allowed to have a fire at the beach. Some beach spots only allow fires in designated areas where there are established fire pits.

Once you know you can make a fire be sure to dig a hole in the sand large enough for a couple logs, usually about 12-18 inches deep. This acts as a windbreak, as well as, a way to keep the fire contained. Next step is to surround your makeshift fire pit with rocks and get your fire started.

When your all finished pour water over the coals and do your best to dispose of the fire pit completely. The ultimate goal is to always leave the beach exactly as you found it.

9. Safety First

There will not always be a lifeguard on duty especially when your stealth camping on the beach. Keep this in mind when swimming and be extremely careful of currents and rip curls. You only drown once…

Always pack a first aid kit wherever you go camping. The most common injuries like sprains and lacerations you can treat with a simple first aid kit. For more severe injuries you want to have the means to maintain the injury that can hold you over until you make it to the hospital.

10. Bug spray is your best friend

Bug spray makes all the difference in the world. Nobody likes to wake up with mosquito bites on your hands, feet, arms, and face. Those little maniacs love to ruin our day every chance they can.

Some beaches have more bugs than others, and depending on the season the numbers will vary. It is a good idea to apply a little before you sleep to the exposed areas of your skin, an added layer of protection.

11. Leave No Trace

Just like any other camping trip the Leave No Trace principles are paramount. The Leave No Trace guidelines were put in place for a reason, to keep our environment clean and conserve the environment for generations to come.

This is no different when beach camping and there’s not a more depressing sight than garbage all over the beach.


There are a few extra steps to take when camping at the beach that are well worth your time spent in the sand. There is no place like a sunny day camping at the beach. Go for it.

Keep calm and beach camp on.

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