It’s an Instagram-worthy scene: your campsite with a backdrop of lapping waves, tide pools, sunsets. Beach camping can be paradisiacal with a bit of prep and forethought. Maximize your fun with these tips to stay comfortable and dry.
Watch the Water and Weather
When setting up an oceanside camp, look for the high-tide mark—on most beaches, it’s identifiable as a layer of driftwood, seaweed, and other sea refuse left by the receding tide. You’ll want to pitch your tent, build your campfire, and keep all belongings ten or more feet inland from the high-tide point.
Keep an eye on weather: high winds can mean errant waves, so if there are gusts in the forecast, be extra cautious with your campsite selection. It’s worth keeping a tide table handy. You can usually find them in boating stores or surf shops and printed in the local newspaper—or try an app like TideTrac.
Protect Yourself From the Sun
Water reflects solar radiation, potentially hitting you with with nearly double the exposure. If you’re car camping, consider packing an umbrella or sun shade. If you’re backpacking, you’ll have to rely on a wide-brimmed hat, skin-covering clothing, and high-SPF sunscreen.
Respect the Dunes
While fun to explore, sand dunes are comprised of vulnerable vegetation. When in doubt whether playing on dunes might be detrimental, check with local rangers before exploring, especially if you’re unsure whether the area is heavily traveled or protected. And it never hurts to brush up on Leave No Trace principles.
Keep Sand Out
Seasoned beachgoers will tell you preventing sand from getting in is easier than trying to get it out. Brush off feet, legs, and any other sandy body parts before getting in a tent or changing clothes. If you’re traveling with kids, consider a two-bucket system outside the car or tent: fill both with water, then rinse feet in both. Then wipe feet with a towel and step directly into the tent. And, as a final line of defense, bring a dustpan and brush for sweeping inside the tent.