Jill Sanford | 05.24.2017

There’s nothing like waking up right on the beach to the sounds of waves crashing and gulls cawing as you breath in that salty ocean air. Just picture yourself rolling out of your tent and having the Pacific Ocean right at your fingertips. You can throw on your wetsuit and head straight out into the waves, or use that beach camp as the jumping off point for hiking and exploring the coast. When you camp right along the ocean, the world is your oyster, really!

Here’s a few basic tips and tricks if you are new to beach camping:

  • Pick up some plastic tent stakes that are wider than the skinny metal ones you usually use. Those have no grip in the sand, but the light, larger plastic ones will hold your tent in place.
  • Bring a little handheld broom to sweep up. Sand is going to get everywhere, and unless you are aiming to go ultra light, save a little room in the pack or car for one of these. You are going be thankful for it, even though it may seem like an unneeded expense.
  • Don’t forget the sun protection. Seriously, if you think you will be fine, remember that out on most beaches, there is very little shade. You want to be out there enjoying the experience, not cowering in the tent because of a nasty burn.
  • Study those tides. Know when high tide and low tides are expected to come, and make sure you set up camp above the high tide mark. This is especially true if you are camping on a beach that is in an inlet or body of water like the Puget Sound. The tides here behave differently and are more dramatic than they are out on the main coast. Here’s a helpful resource with more information. 
  • Bring your own water, unless you know for a fact where a source of freshwater is for filtering or dropping an iodine tablet in.
  • Leave No Trace. This one is a given for all types of camping, but if you are new to beach camping, keep an eye out for fragile vegetation in your camping area and make sure all trash is kept out of the sand and wind. It can be gone in the blink of an eye thanks to the wind and coastal conditions.
  • Layer up. Even if the weather is predicted to be nice, it can get frigid on the open beaches with no wind shelter once the sun goes down.

Now that you know what to expect, here are the top destinations where you can camp right along the ocean out west. For even more beach camping advice and locations, check out Beach Camping in the West.





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