Beach camping tips: How to plan the perfect beachside camping getaway

Beach camping tips: How to plan the perfect beachside camping getaway

One of the many pluses of beach camping is you don't need a wealth of camping experience under your belt to have a relaxing and invigorating escape from the day-to-day grind.

Beach camping holidays are ideal for families who are looking for some fun in the sun and sand between their toes, as well as lots of time in the water. Enjoy swimming, stand up paddle boarding, surfing or boogie boarding, snorkelling and fishing - not to forget impromptu cricket matches, soccer kickabouts and sandcastle building, or simply doing absolutely nothing except watching the days roll by with a book by your side.

Whether you have a 4WD that can access some of the most pristine yet remote beaches or an everyday passenger car that can still get you to a beachside caravan and camping park, everyone can access a beach camping location that's right for them and their families.

Make it a holiday to remember with our guide to beach camping.


Research, research, research.

Often the best campsites lie at the end of the most inaccessible tracks. Making sure your vehicle is up to the task before heading off is vital to reaching your end destination.

Before hitting the road, we can't stress how important it is to do your research. Arriving at your campsite to discover you can't bring pets or there's no toilets or showering amenities, or the beach is only accessible by 4WD is not the best start to your holiday - in fact, it can be downright frustrating! That's why you need to do your research before setting out.

There are plenty of beach campgrounds that have restrictions depending on the time of year — some even close or are off-limits in the winter months. However, most camping grounds and national parks have websites that will give you a thorough rundown of their facilities and when/if they are closed. These sites are also likely to specify the guidelines they have in place and useful info on things like how to hire or reserve a campsite, where to register or check in when you arrive, noise curfews, fire restrictions and bag limits when fishing, accessibility warnings and emergency contact information.

It might sound a bit over the top but check whether swimming is permitted at your destination. Many beachside caravan and camping grounds are managed by local councils and, in some municipalities, swimming at particular sections of beach may not be permitted because of a lack of patrols by the local surf lifesaving club outside of summer.

If you are camping at a 4WD only location, make sure you have the essential safety equipment on board, and that you know how to get unstuck in the event that you get bogged.


What to take when beach camping

Careful planning and packing ensures you have all the gear to make the most of your beachside adventure.

No matter where your beach camping adventures take you, there are some basic essentials you should always have as part of your pack. As well as life's little luxuries - laptops, smartphones and tablets for entertainment - it's important you have the right tent, sleeping bags and cooking facilities.

For beach camping, always choose a tent with a high UPF-rating for appropriate protection. Plenty of shade is essential, no matter how much you enjoy the warmth of the sun. Excessive sun exposure can not only lead to sunburn but also dehydration and a host of other dramas that will put a dampener on your camping experience. Having a fly over your tent provides great sun protection and keeps excess light out for when you want a bit of a sleep-in, while adding an awning or gazebo and sunshade to your pack will provide vital shade and protection from the elements on hot, sun-soaked days.

Tarps or some form of ground covering should be used before setting up your tent. Tarps are ideal for keeping you dry if the weather turns nasty and making sure sand stays out of your tent. Always take a few moments to clear away rocks, pebbles or twigs to create as smooth a surface as possible before setting up.

Browsing our buying guides will equip you with other important tips on choosing the right tent for the beach, including using tent pegs specifically designed for beach camping.

Camping chairs, tables and furniture are great for ensuring you don't have to compromise on the comforts of home while you're away, and a portable camp fridge, cooler or ice box is vital for keeping your food and drink fresh and cold.


Handy tips for rookie campers

When you arrive at your destination, choosing where to set up camp is an important decision to get right.

It’s always best to set up camp around high tide so you’re a safe distance from the water's edge.


Look for a spot that gives your group desirable natural views but also protects you from the elements. There's a wealth of apps available that can help you with wind speed and direction in real-time. Knowing if there are strong winds expected in the coming days of your stay will also aid your decision, even telling you whether it's safe to set up camp in the first place. In windier spots, set up camp a bit further back from the shoreline for adequate protection.



It's often tempting to camp on the edge of the water so you can wake up to an inspiring sunrise or cap off your day watching a picture-perfect sunset with an uninterrupted view but allowing for the change of tides is a must when beach camping. In some areas, tidal changes mean the water rises and falls by only a matter of inches but in others - especially the northern parts of Australia - tides can go up and down by five to 10 metres. Make checking the area's tidal charts part of your research before you leave home.



Showering and toilet facilities aren't readily available at most beaches with camping, even more so in national parks, so make sure you choose a campsite that gives you the privacy you need for life's everyday, unavoidable rituals. Portable camp showers and toilets come in a range of designs that protect the natural environment, are easy to clean and offer much-needed privacy.



Arriving to find your campsite strewn with rubbish and other waste isn't just frustrating, it shows a lack of respect to other campers and the natural environment. Respecting the environment and preserving the natural surroundings for others is something we should all take seriously. When packing up camp, take all waste with you, remove traces of your campfires and leave the location as pristine and spotless as you'd expect it to be.


Also remember

  • Ensure you have access to plenty of fresh drinking water, sunscreen and a first aid kit.
  • Animal tracks indicate you may be sharing the beach with lots of wildlife. If this makes you nervous, choose a different site.
  • Keeping your tent doors closed at all times will help prevent the tent from filling up with sand particles picked up by the wind across the day.
  • A simple dustpan and brush is perfect for cleaning sand out of your tent, and is also great for getting dried sand off legs and feet after a swim.


In conclusion

Cold drinks, comfy chairs and endless ocean, this is what beachside camping is all about!

Beach camping is ideal for camping beginners. It's a great way to enjoy the sun and surf, especially if the crowds and noise of coastal caravan parks in summer is something you want to avoid.

When choosing where to camp, remember to always do your research so you know what facilities to expect, and pack your vehicle accordingly. Include plenty of drinkable water, sunsmart essentials like sunglasses, UPF-protective clothing, a hat and sunscreen, and above all, have fun!




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