Some people are drawn more to the mountains while others crave the surf and sand. Each has its unique rewards, but they also bring some challenges. You might think of spending time on the beach as the ultimate life of leisure, but it takes some work to make it happen. Let’s look at some basic rules to help make your beach camping trip a big success.
What Is Beach Camping?
Beach camping is setting up camp on or very close to the beach. It might be along the open water of an ocean or gulf or on the shore of an inland lake. Beach camping offers something for almost any lifestyle – active or passive. You can walk the shoreline or frolic in the water during the day and gaze at starry skies at night. Or you might just want to lounge in a beach chair all day.
Usually, beach camping involves sand, but you can find spots set up on a rocky coastline instead. Depending on your location, you can doze off peacefully to the sounds of roaring surf or gently lapping waves.
If you’re camping and the water is steps away, it’s considered beach camping.
Why Preserving the Beach Is Essential
However you spend your time at the beach, handle the place with care. Don’t damage the sensitive shoreline or pollute the waters. These are environmentally fragile ecosystems essential for plant and animal life. In some cases, beaches are also buffers that protect communities from storms.
Under the right conditions, camping on the beach sure feels like a privilege. Treat it like one so others can enjoy it as well.
10 Beach Camping Golden Rules You Shouldn’t Break
Every beach that allows camping has posted written rules. There are also unwritten rules that are common-sense guidelines you should follow.
1. Remember the Tides
It’s tempting to set up camp right next to the water, but before you do, remember that ocean tides are constantly changing. You can often see a line of seaweed and other debris where the high tide comes to rest, but the waters could rise higher. Usually, information about the tides is posted on the beach, but you can also look online.
Even if you’re lake camping without tides, heavy rainfall can cause the water to creep up dangerously toward your doorstep. This is especially true at reservoirs that are specifically dammed to control downstream flow. So don’t set up camp too close to the water.
2. Clean Saltwater Off Your RV or Vehicle
Exposure to saltwater may be good for the soul, but it can cause damage to your vehicle and/or RV. As soon as you can, give your rig and/or tow vehicle a careful and thorough rinse with fresh water.
Give your generator a bath, too. Your extra effort will help to head off rust and corrosion.
3. Leave No Trace
Like camping in the woods, always leave the area in better condition than when you arrived. Beaches are often windy, so try not to let any of your trash stray from the campsite.
Better yet, look around for someone else’s litter to clean up, too. Our beaches can always use a little extra help to stay clean.
4. Research Campsites Ahead of Time
You may be seriously disappointed if you just show up hoping to score a beachfront campsite. Do your homework ahead of time to determine if sites are first-come, first-served, or if they require a reservation.
Find out if there’s a fee to stay and how long you can stay. See if there are bathrooms or showers nearby.
Pro Tip: Unsure of how to find quality campsites? Try out these Best Boondocking Apps and Websites for Amazing Free Camping.
5. You Can’t Camp on Every Beach
You might need to be flexible, too. You can camp legally on many beaches, but not all of them.
In fact, many beaches allow tents but prohibit motorized vehicles, including RVs. Others have campsites near the beach – sometimes just steps away – but not directly on it.
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6. Don’t Go Swimming Alone
You might have the urge to go for quick, frequent swims, but make sure someone else is watching. Waves and riptides can sweep you away suddenly without warning. There’s probably not a lifeguard on duty, so relying on the buddy system is a good way to stay safe.
7. Test the Sand Before Driving On It
Don’t take your rig on the sand without testing it if you’re RVing. While you won’t encounter quicksand on the beach, you should avoid exceptionally soft sand. To prevent your rig from getting stuck, head for ground that’s most compact and firm. This is usually closer to the shoreline. Sometimes, it means parking your rig in the parking lot if allowed.
If a stretch of sand seems iffy, drive slowly but maintain your forward momentum. Many drivers like to lower their tire pressure for a wider footprint.
8. Avoid Sand Dunes
We’ve already mentioned that beaches are a fragile environment, but sand dunes are the most sensitive areas of all. In fact, national parks generally prohibit camping among them.
They might be alluring because they can offer natural shelter from winds, but they’re off-limits. They’re already protecting other living things that humans shouldn’t disturb.
9. Check the Weather Regularly
The beach is a common summertime destination, but it can also be a way to beat the winter blues. Whatever time of year you visit, keep a close watch on the weather.
Storms can pop up quickly from offshore and suddenly turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. Constant winds measured below storm strength can also ruin your beach experience simply because it’s miserable to camp in consistently blowing wind!
10. Follow Rules About Pets
Most dogs love going to the beach, too, but they’re not welcome everywhere. Check in advance whether your four-legged family members can make the trip or need other accommodations. If they do join you, always keep them on a leash (when posted) and pick up after them.
Pro Tip: Want to vacation with your fluffy friends? We found The 7 Most Dog-Friendly Beaches in Florida.
Is Beach Camping a Good Idea?
Beach camping is an excellent idea if it brings you joy. Spending a few days and nights at the water’s edge provides a feeling of rest and rejuvenation. If all goes as planned, a slow-paced beach outing is a memory that can last a lifetime.
But without following a few practical rules and guidelines, it can turn into a disaster you won’t soon forget. Know the rules written and unwritten to have a fantastic beach camping experience and maintain the experience for others.
What are your favorite beaches for camping? Drop a comment below!
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