a tent with a chair and table, next to the water.

Preparing for Camping at the Beach: Everything You Need to Know

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Camping at the beach is one of the most popular activities that people enjoy during their summer vacation. It’s a great way to experience nature, and get away from it all. If you are going camping for the first time at a beach, or if you want to plan ahead for your next trip, then this blog post will be perfect for you! We have compiled everything that we think might be useful in order to make sure that your camping trip is as successful as possible.

Why Should You Camp On The Beach?

One of the most important reasons why camping on the beach is an excellent idea, is that camping is a way to spend quality time with your family. When camping, you are experiencing nature in its purest form, so camping can be a bonding experience for you and your loved ones. It also offers the perfect opportunity to explore our natural surroundings, and get back to basics. We all know how easy it is to get caught up in everyday life sometimes – camping allows you to escape from it all! Camping on the beach is especially relaxing and beautiful.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you buy from my link I might make a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay. See the full affiliate disclosure here.

You should also camp on the beach if:

you want to make memories with your friends;

want to reconnect with your family;

enjoy wildlife and nature;

and love falling asleep to the sound of the waves.

evening on the beach with a campfire and a lantern

What to Pack for Camping on the Beach

Everything that you need for camping will depend on the type of camping you’re doing. For example, camping in a tent will require camping gear such as camping tents, camping mattresses, camping sleeping bags and camping chairs. There are many other items that may be required depending on your camping needs and preferences. Camping at the beach will require things such as a towel, sunscreen, towels and tarp or tent. If you don’t want to use camping tents because there is no shelter at the place you’re staying – then you should bring a beach tent instead!

Beach Camping Must-Haves

Swimming Gear – If you’re camping at the beach, you’re going to be in the water. Pack everything your family needs to have a great time in the water. For us, this includes bathing suits, sand toys, Puddle Jumpers for the little ones (I swear, these things are my favorite!), water shoes and/or sandals that stay on your feet, sun hats, sunglasses, Surfboards or paddle boards, and any other gear for the activities you like to do at the beach.

Beach Towels – Bring way more towels than you think you’ll need. Everyone needs at least two. One that will be wet, and another than will be drying.

Beach Blankets – Spread these out all around your tent to avoid getting sand everywhere inside of your tent. I like these clips for holding them down too.

Sunscreen – Bring tons of it. I always order in bulk, here. Chances are you won’t be sitting in the shade very often during this beach camping trip. I buy this big pack from Amazon every summer.

Lanterns – It’s dark at night near the ocean! Battery powered lanterns are perfect for camping and help you get around in the dark.

Cooler – Probably, if you’re camping at the beach it’s hot out, so you want to keep your food and drinks icy cold. If you camp a lot, I suggest investing in a really great cooler like a Yeti that will keep things cold for longer.

Camping Gear – Aside from these beach specific things, you also need your typical gear for a tent camping trip. The tent, some tarps in case of rain, things to cook and eat with, a first aid kit, and other emergency supplies are always in my car when we camp.

Tip: Keep all of your camping gear in a large plastic tote in your garage or basement. Then when you want to hit the road, everything is already packed!

Best Places for Camping on the Beach

If you live in an ocean state, then you are already almost there! For many of us, we may need to drive or fly to a fabulous location to experience really beautiful ocean beach camping. I found this list of some of the best US beach camping spots and have summarized it for you!

East Coast Beach Camping Spots:

Bahia Honda State Park, Florida – On the way to Key West is this Florida state park, which is an entire island! They offer every camping set up imaginable, from primative camping to RV sites, tent sites, bungalows and yurts.

Sandy Neck Beach Park, Massachusetts – If you’re going to head to Cape Cod, the town of Barnstable, MA offers beach camping at Sandy Neck Beach Park. Primative camping as well as RV sites are available, right on the beach!

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina – In the low country of SC, this state park sits between Charleston and Savannah, GA. They have both tent sites and RV hookings, and amazing fishing!

West Coast Beach Camping Spots:

Jalama Beach County Park, California – Near Santa Barbara, this county park offers humble seaside accomodations. Tent sites, cabins, RV sites with hookups are all available here. They also offer group areas for larger groups of campers.

Kalaloch, Washington – This campground is located on a high bluff in Olympic National Park. At this beach you may see dolphins, sea otters, or whales! The peninsula is also home to many rare bird species – Sometimes there are even puffins!! This is a very popular location, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time!

Tips for Planning a Beach Camping Trip

Many beach campgrounds, both private and public, are on islands. Be prepared to take all of your stuff on a ferry to get to the campsite. I suggest reading all that you can about how to get to your beach camping location before you go.

Pack well, but pack light. Some of the beach campgrounds I’ve researched require a bit of walking to get from your car or the ferry to your campsite. Use backpacks and be ready for a short hike.

Start Slow. If you have never camped on the beach, or are not sure that your family will love it, do just one or two nights to start. You can always come back and do a longer stay next year if it’s amazing. This way, if the weather is awful or your kid gets sand in their eyes, you can just call it and go home without losing a lot of money.


an image of tent camping on a beach with a text overlay

Kids Beach Camping Packing List

I use this kids beach camping checklist for every single beach camping trip we do as a family of 4 (sometimes 5). This helps the kids to pack up their own things, and gives them some ownership of the process. No need to give me your email address to get this printable camping packing list, just download from here directly! (of course, I’d love it if you’d subscribe to my list on your own! You can do that below.)

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