The most important thing to remember when considering camping at the beach is that you need to firmly establish whether or not you’re allowed to camp there.
Many authorities forbid camping at the beach. This can be for safety reasons, for environmental protection or for wildlife conservation and it’s possibly true to say that there are more beaches where you’re forbidden to camp than there are those who actually encourage it so do check with the relevant authority before heading off to camp there.
Environmental Issues You Should Consider
As with any campsite, it’s important to practice good etiquette and adopt a ‘leave no trace’ philosophy when camping at the beach. Like any natural environment, there’s a whole eco system to consider and if you’re careless, you could end up damaging it for years to come.
If the beach is a well established camping site, you’ll be able to see other tents and/or areas where the sand has been flattened by other tents previously. Always make for those areas in which to pitch your tent to reduce the level of impact that your camping has. Just like in the woods, the objective is to confine impact to places that already show use and to avoid enlarging areas of disturbance to minimise the effect on any wildlife.
Respect the rocks. There’s nothing more unsightly than to see a beautiful beach full of blackened and sooty rocks so avoid building fires against large rocks and don’t build a fire against the base of a cliff. It takes decades of weathering before unsightly soot washes off a rock face. Better still, take a camping stove.
If you do intend making your own fire, once again, check with the local authorities that you’re allowed to do that and seek advice on the recommended procedures. If there are existing fire pits that have been used previously, don’t create a new one but use the one that’s been previously used, even if that means clearing up somebody else’s mess first. You can actually buy fire pans these days which contain all the ashes so that no coals and soot fall onto the sand and the beach remains attractive to those that come after you.
If you’re on a beach, you’re obviously near water. It’s likely to be salty however so make sure you bring a purifier if you’re going to use it as your natural water source. Consider whether or not you really need detergent to clean your dirty dishes and pans. If you insist on soap, make sure it’s ecologically friendly.
Also, be aware if any animals live on the beach. Whilst you may think it’s only fish you need be concerned with, don’t forget that a beach is also home to a large seal population so show respect for these magnificent creatures and don’t camp too near them as they may be rearing pups.
Never underestimate the unpredictability of the sea. Incoming tides can be deceptive and you can soon find yourself cut off from the land by an incoming fast tide before you’re even aware of it so make sure you know how far back you need to situate your tent to be 100% sure that you won’t get washed away by the tide whilst you’re sleeping in your tent. At best, you’ll be soggy and at worst, it could prove fatal. If you’re not 100% sure you’re safe then you’re not safe!
Wear something on your feet if you’re walking along the beach, especially at night. Careless people with no respect for the environment drop cans and bottles on the beach indiscriminately and you’ll not want to cut your feet. And, if you do see any rubbish on the beach, pick it up and dispose of it.
Camping on the beach should be treated with the same kind of respect you’d show to other more traditional camping locations. You’ll sleep soundly, helped along with the salty night air and the soothing sounds of the waves lapping at the shoreline but remember to find out if it’s permitted first and to leave no trace that you were ever there when you leave.