Oh Captain, My Captain
Can you think of anything sweeter than waking up next to the pounding surf, breathing in that ocean air, and feeling that unparalleled connection with nature? Make your next beach camping trip a roaring success with these indispensable tips:
1. Bring Beach-Specific Supplies
As with any camping trip, you’re going to need the basics. Tent, tarp, sleeping bag, cooking tools… you know the drill. One helpful trick of the trade that applies especially well to beach camping? Bring along a dustpan and brush. You’ll be happy that you did when you’re able to brush off the sand and keep your sleeping quarters clean.
Another helpful piece of gear are sand stakes. These handy little tools are meant to hold their ground in loose surfaces, saving you a lot of potential tent frustration.
2. Sun Prep Is Essential
Because beaches, by their nature, tend to be alongside expansive bodies of water, you’re going to want to prepare yourself for the glaring sun that will inevitably reflect off the waves. If you’ve managed to secure a site with shade, amazing. If not, plan ahead.
If you have the luxury of a car, consider adding a beach umbrella to your gear stash. It’ll be indispensable when the midday sun is beating down on you and you’ve got nowhere else to go. It’s also incredibly important to remember sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats. Nothing ruins a camping trip faster than a bad sunburn.
3. Track Those Tides
This one is applicable if you’re setting up camp beside the ocean and while it’s probably pretty obvious, it absolutely bears repeating. Before pitching your tent and building your bonfire, be absolutely positive that you are well away from the reaches of the water when it hits high tide. Familiarize yourself with the tides ahead of time and organize yourself accordingly.
It may be tempting to set up shop right near the water but you’ll be singing a different tune when all your possessions are washed away after a particular aggressive wave. One of our favorite tide trackers is the Tides Near Me app.
4. Give Me Shelter
Even the most devoted sun worshippers can use a break every so often. And most of us can agree that some foods just taste better if they haven’t been sitting under powerful rays all morning. If you have the space, consider taking along a collapsible sun shelter (such as our Victory) which, in addition to providing some welcome shade, can be used as a refuge from mosquitoes and rain.
Most sun shelters come with removable screen walls and are tall roomy enough to accommodate several campers, making them the ideal place to come together for meals, games of cards, or just breezy naps.
5. Step Away From the Dunes
While they may be pretty to look at, sand dunes tend to house vulnerable vegetation that are easily (and negatively) affected by human interference. Additionally, the pose a risk as they are covered with shifting sand and rocks that can quickly slide down, creating a dangerous environment for everyone involved. Feel free to admire the dunes and marvel at their general awesomeness but for the their sake and yours, keep your hands, feet, and everything else to yourself.
6. Take It Inside
Even though the days may be hot and sunny, nights spent by the water tend to get foggy and damp pretty quickly. Before turning in for the night, pack away anything you’d prefer to keep dry and be sure to set up your rain fly. Unexpected storms, passing showers, or even heavy doses of dew can all make for an uncomfortable experience if you aren’t adequately prepared.
7. Know Your H2O
Even though you’re surrounded by water, chances are you’ll need to pack a decent supply of your own, or invest in some water filters or purifying tablets before heading out. Sea water, because of its salt content, cannot be consumed. So unless you’re absolutely sure that there’s a fresh water source nearby, be sure to BYOW.
If you’re camping near a lake, river, or stream, you still need to be cautious. Unless you’re at the source of a pristine, glacier-fed spring, you’re going to need to purify any water before drinking it, regardless of how clean it appears to be. It’s important to stay hydrated and in this case, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.
8. Stash Your Trash
Beaches are beautiful and your job, as a camper, is to help keep them that way. As with any campsite, you are responsible for your garbage and should be mindful of this when planning your trip. Cans and bottles are a hassle to transport and need to be brought back out so try to avoid using them in the first place.
Consider packing some extra large freezer bags to use as trash receptacles — just remember that you need to take them with you at the end of your trip. Some parks provide you with garbage bags so find out beforehand whether the spot you’re going to offers this service. Be sure to check ahead to find out if there are any restricted items you should just leave at home.
Happy beach camping from all of us at NEMO!