Riverside & Beach Camping Tips
Oceans, lakes, and ponds can have calming effects on the human psyche, and camping near them can be an especially breathtaking experience. In this guide, we’ll cover tips and tricks on keeping sand out of your camper or tent, prepping for wind, and general safety for beach camping. Read on to learn about setting up your camper or tent on the beach and campfire regulations.
How to camp on the beach
Camping near a lake or the ocean is much different than camping in a forest. The main considerations to be mindful of when camping on the beach are the tide, wildlife, the wind, and sand. These elements can add charm to a beach camping trip but should be accounted for when setting up your camp.
Keep sand out of your tent or RV
When camping on the sand, you’re bound to track some into your tent or camper trailer. However, you only need a few extra supplies to make sure you don’t bring the whole beach into your camper. You can keep sand at bay with these easy-to-pack items:
- A small tarp – place one in front of your tent or camper to give people and pets an area to clean off their feet or paws.
- Hand towels and a water bucket – use these to wash and brush off sand while standing on the tarp.
- A broom and dustpan – brush out the sand that gets into your trailer, tent, or car.
Avoid getting stuck in the sand
Don’t travel too far down the beach with your vehicle or trailer. If you’re camping at an official campground, the staff should be able to provide information on the safest places to set up on the beach. When boondocking, use your best judgment to pick a camping spot — if you can, ask a local for the best beach camping locations. Follow these recommendations to make sure you can drive your car or trailer back from your beach campsite:
- Use a lightweight trailer – look for single-axle trailers, which are inherently lighter than their double-axle counterparts. Tailgating trailers are great for beach get-togethers and also have a lighter gross vehicle weight than most other mobile habitats.
- Look for larger tires – tires meant for rugged terrain have a wider surface area — resulting in better weight displacement, and are less likely to sink in the sand. Setting the pressure in your tires to a lower level can also help with traction on the shore; just make sure to stay within the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Don’t go too far out – as we mentioned, be careful traveling far out onto the beach from the access point and encountering rough patches of sand that could stop you in your tracks. Additionally, avoid parking too close to the water — the tide could cause your vehicle to get stuck in muddy sand.
Where can you have a campfire?
While beaches are one of the safest places for campfires, not all beaches permit them. If there are no public-use firepits, familiarize yourself with the local regulations. Some other tips for having a safe campfire on the beach include:
- Keep it small – monitor the fire and avoid bonfires
- Check the tide levels – the tide could put out your fire
- Dig a pit for your fire – this will protect it from wind
Studies have shown that being near water has long-lasting health benefits, both mental and physical. Running in the sand is good for ankle stability and cardiovascular health — and besides the wellness benefits, beachside activities allow you to make the most of a day out on the sand. Frisbees, volleyball, cornhole, and bodyboards can be packed easily with other camping gear. Most smaller camper trailers can carry all this gear onto the sand, while still having room for bikes or beach canopies.
Mind the wildlife
Coastal and marine life is a vital part of Earth’s ecosystem. As campers, we should be mindful of where we step on trails and stay out of dunes and nesting sites. Keeping pets and families out of these areas protects the wildlife and reduces the chance of getting ticks or scraped by marram grass.
Keep our beaches clean
Plastic waste encompasses over 80% of all unwanted debris in oceans and lakes. We can all do our part to ensure that future generations have clean beaches, shorelines, and bodies of water for camping and swimming. Sustainable camping is responsible camping — bring reusable water bottles and food containers while picking up any garbage left over from cooking or snacking.
Extra camping tips for the waterfront
Carrying gear out to the beach can be exhausting — we recommend using a sled to carry your gear across the sand. Speaking of gear, bring plenty of sunscreen, a canopy for shade, and sand stakes. Sand stakes are specially designed to hold down tents and canopies in the event of an overly zealous oceanic breeze.
Beachfront campgrounds around the USA
When camping in the United States, we have access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Great Lakes. Some landlocked campgrounds even offer beachside sites on smaller lakes and riverside camping next to gorgeous rock formations. Below are a few recommendations of our favorite locations to find campsites near beaches.
Oceanfront camping on the Oregon Coast
From the Olympic National Park down to the northern border of California rest numerous campsites for RVs, tents, and traditional camping. A majority of these can be found on Interstate Highway 101, beginning in Portland and heading south. The Rogue River, starting from the Pacific near Gold Beach and traveling inland, has spots for riverside camping and fishing.
Best beach camping in California
California spans such a large swathe of the Pacific Coast that it has campsites for every type of camper. For dispersed camping, you can check out Usal Beach in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Just north of San Francisco, Black Sands Beach also has plenty of nearby campgrounds. If you’re looking for camping closer to Mexico, check out the Morro Dunes area.
Florida beach camping
Nearly synonymous with Florida are the Everglades; a large network of mangrove forests with relaxing, slow river currents. The Everglades offer both backcountry and conventional camping opportunities. For those looking for a standard beach camping experience, we encourage you to check out Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area or Sebastian Inlet State Park. Thankfully, you’re allowed one fire with a permit in both locations and can enjoy surfing, scuba diving, or fishing.
Beach campgrounds in the Midwest
It’s almost impossible to talk about Midwest beach camping without mentioning Lake Michigan. One of the most notable camping destinations on Lake Michigan is the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Beachland fires are permitted within this area, as long as they stay between the water’s edge and the first dune. You can also find numerous spots for beach camping on Lake Huron and Lake Superior.
Find a lightweight camper beach companion
At TAXA, we create sustainable campers with lightweight specs to provide mobile habitats for every camper — no matter terrain, troupe size, or destination. Our lightest camper trailer, Woolly Bear, has a dry weight of just 1,270 pounds! You’ll have plenty of space for storing beach camping gear with any of our mobile habitats. Talk to a TAXA specialist today and find your next shoreline adventure vehicle!