Camping on the beach is nothing short of a dream! Where else can you literally wake up in paradise listening to the sound of the waves, watching an amazing sunrise or sunset right from your tent or RV or go swimming anytime you want?! These simple beach camping tips will provide insight on how to make your beach camping experience the best!
That said, some campers don’t think about how their existence, behavior or infractions affect everything and everyone around them on the beach. There are a few rules that are not only to protect sealife, wildlife and other campers. But also, so you can get the very best out of your fun in the sun and under the stars!
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15 Best Beach Camping Tips and Rules for Coastal Campers
While you’re enjoying your own piece of coastal paradise, be mindful by following these beach camping tips and rules of etiquette.
Abide by Local Laws and Ordinances
Some beaches require vehicle, tent or camper to obtain a camping permit to camp on the beach. Usually they are administered out of the municipality, county or other government office.
So, make certain before driving your camper onto the beach or plopping your tent down with all of your gear.
Camp Only in Designated Areas
Never assume you can camp on any beach. Beaches are privately owned or government managed.
There may or may not be signs that tell if you can camp on the beach. Pay attention to where the designated camping area is. When setting up camp, never impede or put your tent in high foot traffic areas, driveways or exits.
Also be aware that day use areas will not allow you to camp (car, tent or even hammock) or park your RV overnight. They also don’t allow campers to commandeer picnic shelters or set up camp close to public areas such as showers, bathrooms, etc. In other words, public places are just that; public.
Familiarize Yourself with Tides and Currents
Anytime you camp on the beach, you need to know the tide fluctuations. Because if you’re not careful, your camping gear and you will wash out to sea.
Not only that, but if you’re car camping or beach camping in your camper or RV, you need to pay strict attention to not be able to get off the beach. Vehicles and RVs are known to sink in the sand. When the tide rolls in, the sand softens and of course, you may have a disaster.
So, before hitting the beach, check out your local tide and currents. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has a great website where you can look up your state and region to see high tide and low tide estimates.
Also, when you arrive, pay attention to the seaweed or sea foam lines in the sand. They are a great indication of how far the last high tide came in. Look at other tents and RVs who are camping on the same location. Those who hav been there longer already have an inclination of how far back you should stay back away from the shoreline.
So, your takeaway here is don’t set up camp too close to the shoreline. And be cognizant of the tidal changes. Also, know how to handle your vehicle and/or RV in the sand.
The most important rule for camping on the beach is to respect wildlife and natural environment. Beaches are great for recreational enjoyment. But, we must all remember they are also wildlife habitats and places where plant life thrives.
Never impede or interfere with migrating sea turtles or birds. This also means keeping your pets away from wildlife and birds. Allow them the space they need to get to where they are going. And never destroy nests or harm eggs or hatchlings.
Should you see sea or wildlife on the beach, do not approach or try to help it. If it looks injured or out of place, contact the state Department of Natural Resources or local Fish and Game Division.
Avoid Sand Dunes or Beach Grass
Avoid walking on the beach sand dunes. But also, don’t trek across the beach grass or any vegetation.
First, they usually are where rattlesnakes hang out. They are also habitats for other various wildlife from nesting birds, small rodents, crabs and insects.
But also, sand dunes are needed to protect the area from erosion. By walking or playing on sand dunes, we damage the beach grass and other plants that hold the dune together.
On another note, sand is incredibly heavy. If large sand dunes were to collapse while you, your kids or even your dog were walking or playing on it, there’s potential of getting overcome with sand and buried. Do you think YOU could survive a collapsing sand dune?
So, stay on the beaten path to, from and around the beach. Use the boardwalks and managed foot paths to get to the water’s edge.
Respect Fellow Campers
Especially at first come first serve beach camping areas, be respectful of your fellow campers. Scope out where you’d like to camp first. But not on top of your camping neighbors. Give other campers space for privacy and comfort. Don’t intrude on their space.
Make certain you keep your pets and children near your own camping area. Don’t allow them to encroach onto others camping spaces.
And be respectful of their own camping enjoyment and beach vibe. Turn down your music and honor quiet hours. Adding to that, don’t gawk at them while they are sunbathing or take photos of their children in swimsuits.
Leash Your Dogs
While the beach is a great place to let your dog run and splash. However, more and more, local jurisdictions are banning dogs from beaches.
But if dogs are allowed to camp with you on the beach, be aware, others may not like it. Be respectful of other beach goers and beach campers. If there are leash laws, you need to adhere to them. Remember, not everyone likes dogs or even ‘your’ dog. But also, other dogs may be aggressive or act in defense if approached by your dog.
Oh, and Always clean up after your dog as it’s toxic to the water environment. Nothing is more disgusting than stepping on mushy dog poop or children finding dog turds while playing in the sand.
And lastly, if your dog runs loose on the beach, don’t allow him to enter other camper’s campsite or sniff around their belongings. It’s not nice to have to clean dog urine off of any camping gear (and we have…twice!) when you don’t even own a dog.
Keep your beach campsite tidy
Beaches are prone to wind and tides. Everything, including your tent, beach towels and clothing, not anchored down is going to blow away.
You may want to skip using paper plates and paper cups as they will blow away and litter the beach. We recommend bringing a set of camping dishes and silverware set. Not only won’t your stuff blow away but you lessen your trash output. Just wipe the off with a paper napkin followed with an antibacterial wipe or vinegar spray and stow until you can get home.
And, if your kids bring all their sand toys, boogie boards and beach inflatables, try to keep them picked up or near your campsite. A great tip is when they’re not using them, instruct them to keep them collected in a big mesh bag on your beach mat. Otherwise, they may come up missing by mistake or assuming they don’t belong to anyone.
And personally, I wouldn’t leave any pricy camping gear out in the open for thieves to steal while you’re out swimming, beachcombing or even while you’re sleeping.
Keep the Noise Down
We totally get that the beach vibe makes you want to blast your Jimmy Buffet, Alan Jackson or Kenny Chesney tunes. But others may not appreciate your music genres. So, be respectful and turn your tunes down to a low decibel so others can enjoy theirs’ too. Perhaps include a pair of inexpensive wireless earbuds might be a better idea?
Also, if the county or municipality allows campers to use generators for electricity to power your CPAP device while camping or air conditioning in your RV, leave that big honkin’ loud contractor generator at home. Should you want to use one while beach camping, always use a much quieter, small inverter generator. And, be mindful of quiet hours; usually from 7:00am-10:00pm.
CAMPING PRO TIP: Generator Usage: Operating Tips and Generator Etiquette
Please, no speeding on the beach! Drive your vehicle or 4WD vehicle slowly on the sand and in the water; especially near other campers and tents.
Watch out for people walking their dogs on the beach as well as children playing in the sand. Plus, campers won’t appreciate you stirring up the sand or splashing water near them or their tent or RV.
Campfires on the Beach
Some beaches may have fire bans for whatever reason of whomever sets them. If you are permitted to build a beach bonfire, only use existing campfire rings. Or, you could take your own fire pit to keep it contained. Any which way, always practice responsible campfire safety.
Keep your beach bonfire small. Always make certain your fire is completely extinguished before you leave your campsite for even a few minutes. Never leave your campfire unattended. And only burn wood and kindling.
One important measure, don’t bring firewood across state lines. Only buy local firewood. It helps to mitigate transporting invasive species and insects.
If you don’t want to deal with campfire smoke or firewood, you could always take a portable propane fire pit instead. That way, no sparks or embers will land on others’ tents, RVs or people.
Most beaches are governed by local ordinances concerning fireworks and pyrotechnics. While they look cool over the water, just no! The remnants left behind are toxic to wildlife. But also, in close confines of tents and campers, that’s just an invitation for fires and personal injury. So, leave the fireworks to the professionals at
Where to Go to the Bathroom?
If you’re bringing your camper, always arrive with your own potable water and empty sewer tanks.
But those without self-contained campers or RVs that have cassette toilets or toilets with black tanks, that leaves question in where and how people are eliminating. Some beaches may supply a porta-potti and outdoor shower. But what if there are none? What and where are people using for the bathroom?
First, humans eliminate almost a pound of human feces a day? And, it takes about a year to biodegrade. So, you see why proper disposal is important and necessary.
Human waste should never be buried near any natural water sources. And, since beach camping is near water, I’m not even going to suggest digging a cat hole. Because it’s illegal, unsanitary and toxic the environment and wildlife.
Remember, people, pets and wildlife are swimming in that water and quite possibly ingesting it. Human sewage in the ocean can cause human illnesses. causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and sometimes fever.
But if you’re a car or tent camper, overlander or motocamper and there are no bathroom facilities or porta-pottys, I highly recommend making your own camping toilet (below). Also, make certain to dispose of your human waste in approved waste receptacle.
Everything you need to create your own camping portable potty:
Bring Necessary Beach Camping Essentials
Unless there’s a nearby grocery store, you’ll want to stock up on enough food and water to get you through your beach camping retreat.
Also, you’ll need important camping essentials to make your stay on the beach fun and stress-free.
Just a few suggestions on beach camping supplies you’ll need:
Tent Stakes – made for sand will help keep your tent and tarps anchored down so they don’t blow away.
Beach Mats – will help prevent sand from being tracked into your tent or camper.
Small Broom & Dustpan – is a must have when beach camping to get the sand out of your tent or camper or brush off of your feet when entering your humble abode.
Beach cabana – is great for blocking wind and shielding you from the sun all while still enjoying the beach vibe.
Camping table to hold all of your outdoor cooking supplies and do your meal prep and cooking.
Camp grill – for those longer periods of time so you can cook meals without a campfire.
Folding picnic table – are great for dining, playing board games and a place for your little beach babies.
Backpack beach chair – are easy to carry because they slip on like a back pack. They also allow you to recline while taking in some rays or a nice mid morning or afternoon nap. (don’t fall asleep in the sun!)
Reef-safe sunscreen – Protect your skin but also our ocean reefs, underwater plants and wildlife.
Ice chest – for keeping your perishables and refreshments cold. This includes making sure you have enough ice for your iIce chest, propane canisters for your camp stove or butane for your butane cooktop.
And yes, it’s totally cool to have more than enough hotdogs, marshmallows and roasting sticks to make s’mores. Also, stock up all the makings to make those amazing campfire pudgie pies over the campfire!
Don’t forget to bring enough fresh drinking water too!
Pack In Pack Out
It always bear reminding that whatever you bring with you to camp on the beach also needs to go with you when you leave. The beach is not a trash can, nor is the ocean, bay, lake, river or stream.
If trash cans are provided, do not overload them. If they are full or overflowing, do not set your trash outside of the trash can. That just invites birds and wildlife to dig into them; thus making a mess. Or worse, the contents may harm wildlife.
We all need to be responsible and take care of them. And even if you didn’t bring it but see trash on the beach, please pick it up and throw it away correctly.
And always follow and teach your children the leave no trace principal.
Wrapping up our best beach camping tips and rules
Camping on the beach is a fun adventure where you can sleep under the stars and wake to the sounds of the surf. By following these beach camping tips and rules, you and your fellow campers will enjoy your own little piece of paradise.
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