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How to Camp on the Beach

Learn how to camp on a beach from Heather Menicucci, author of Let's Get Primitive: The Urban Girl's Guide to Camping, in this Howcast video.


Beach camping is one of my favorite types of camping. The thing about beach camping is that you're getting, for probably free, a beautiful beach, almost entirely to yourself, that most people are paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to experience, to have a beach all to themselves. I've done beach camping on Fire Island, I've done beach camping on the outer banks, and both times were awesome.

Beach camping is definitely more challenging than camping in the woods. The biggest issue is that there's no shade. So there's no trees. There is no way to escape the sun, unless you go in your tent, and the tent is going to be so hot, it's like a sauna in there.

So, you want to prepare or figure out a way to avoid the sun without having to stay in your tent all day. What I did was, we brought a tarp and we found some driftwood and we set up a lean-to with the tarp and the driftwood, and we were able to be away from the sun. We got a great breeze and we just lay under the lean-to a good part of our days.

The other thing is that sunscreen is not going to cut it. Of course, bring sunscreen, but you're going to want to bring t-shirts and hats and pants and stuff to actually block the sun.

Another thing is that tents, when they're in the sand, will probably require longer tent stakes. If it's windy, the ten stake could come up, even if just the sand gets moved around. They're really cheap, you can get them at most camping stores. Just a longer tent stake and it'll keep the tent more securely in place.

Something else on some beach trips is raccoons. Raccoons may be at the beach in some places so you may need to bury your food or figure out a way to store it so that the raccoons can't get at it. Another thing about beach camping is that there's not going to be a lot of wood around to build a fire.

If you're lucky, you might be in a place where a lot of driftwood washes up. In North Carolina on the outer banks that was the case. We would wake up in the morning and there would be so much driftwood, you would just collect it and have it for fire at night.

Also, if you are lucky enough to have firewood or you brought some with you, you're going to probably want to dig out a little bit of a hole in the sand and start your fire in a pit.

The other thing I should mention to you about beach camping is that a lot of times, it's not permitted to camp on the dunes, and dunes on beaches are kind of where it's the most secluded. People are often really attracted to it, because it's got some greenery and you can kind of hide your tent in the dunes, but dunes are a sanctuary for so many animals.

They're also the place where there are a lot of ticks sometimes, so just make sure you follow the rules of wherever you're camping. If they're protecting the dunes, they're probably protecting them for a really good reason. I mean, for all the little additional heartaches that camping at the beach causes, it couldn't be more worth it. You will have a beach pretty much to yourself. Oftentimes you get to go skinny-dipping. It's great. Beach camping is fantastic.

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