A camping tent is, in my opinion, one of the most versatile pieces of camping gear. It makes a great outdoor shelter solution for different weather conditions.
But how far does a camping tent’s versatility go? Can you even use it at the beach?
Yes, a camping tent is a good alternative to a beach tent, and you can use it at the beach for shelter and protection. A high-quality camping tent will provide you with a shield against the wind, sunburn, and other elements at the beach.
And from my experience, I’ve found camping tents much better suited for beach use than the standard beach umbrellas and beach canopy tents.
Now, if you’re looking forward to an awesome beach summer outing and don’t have a beach tent, I’ll detail everything you need to know about using a regular camping tent at the beach.
Tent for the Beach
Tents come in different forms and are ideal for different purposes. The right tent for beach camping will mostly depend on your camping needs.
But in most cases, the three crucial considerations to make for a beach tent are:
1) UV rays protection
3) Legality (meets the beach rules and regulations)
Comparing Beach Tents and Camping Tents
Two main options of tents for beach use are beach tents and camping tents.
These tent designs are perfect for use on the beach, but one may cater to your needs better than the other.
Generally, the main difference between a beach tent and a camping tent is the purpose and UV protection.
As their name suggests, beach tents are perfect for beach use, while camping tents are used for trekking in the woods.
Beach tents are also more ventilated and with plenty of open-air spaces than camping tents. The beach tents provide sufficient shade, while the camping tents are more enclosed.
But that’s not the only difference.
Read more to discover what each tent design offers to see whether it’s the right option for you.
Beach tents are specifically designed for beach use.
Typical beach tents are more ventilated and with plenty of open-air spaces to allow free flow of the wind and ocean breeze.
In fact, beach tents are considered open shelters, some only having a canopy on the roof for sun protection.
Many beaches permit the open-air style beach tent to allow the safety personnel to see through the tent and the water’s edge.
Camping tents, also known as pop-up tents, are usually more solid and perfect for the wanderlusts who love camping.
These tents are built with safety and protection in mind. They’re usually more enclosed than a typical beach tent and don’t have plenty of open-air spaces.
Instead, the pop-up tents have mesh panels that allow free flow of air and better ventilation.
As we mentioned earlier, camping tents are the most versatile type of camping tent because they’re ideal for use in different weather conditions and terrains, including at the beach.
Beach Tent Vs. Camping Tent: Which is Better for the Beach?
Both beach tents and camping tents have plenty of similarities.
The two main ones are sunroof protection and ventilation. However, most beach tents are more ventilated than camping tents because of the open-air spaces.
Now, which is a better tent on the beach between the two options?
The ideal tent for beach use depends on several factors, including beach rules and regulations, convenience, and purpose.
For example, some beaches require that all tents remain open for an unobstructed inside view. On such beaches, a beach tent is recommended.
Again, if ventilation and breathability are your main priorities, a beach tent would be an inspiring option.
But for beaches without regulations and you need more privacy, a camping tent would be an inspiring option.
Finally, if all you need is protection from the sun and the harmful sun’s UV rays, you can pick any two options.
Simply put, the right type of tent for your beach needs will depend on the beach regulations regarding the ideal types of tent and how you plan to use your tent.
Camping Overnight at the Beach
My favorite part about beach camping is camping overnight on the beach and waking up the sunrise.
But unfortunately, overnight camping doesn’t come easy because most of the beaches I know don’t allow camping right on the beach sand for safety reasons and to protect marine life.
The few that allow camping on the beach overnight camping are usually a walking distance away from the beach, while some are only for recreational vehicles. None of the beaches in Southern California are tent camping only.
Day camping is much easier for most beaches because there’re no legal restrictions. However, most beaches will require you to pay or reserve your spot.
So, the trick to spending time at night is paying for the day and not setting up your beach tent until late, 10 or 11. Pitch your tent in a secluded location, ideally where the high tide won’t get you.
I’ve done this at Virginia beach before, but I understand you’re technically not supposed to.
Of course, depending on the beach, you may find it a little tough to get a spot, especially during summer.
I’d recommend you make a reservation first before heading out. If you’ve not, you can get lucky if you stop in. I never make any beach reservations because some beach campers leave early sometimes, especially on weekdays.
My favorite beach spot in Southern California is San Elijo. Others include Sycamore Canyon and Malibu. Santa Barbara is also a nice spot.
There’re also plenty of awesome beaches for tent camping if you head north, including Leo Carillo, Ventura, El Captain, and Santa Barbra.
Tips for Pitching Tent on a Beach
In the section below, we’ll break down everything you need to know about using a tent on the beach.
We’ve got you covered whether you plan to use the tent for day use or camping overnight.
Pitching a Regular Camping Tent at The Beach
Before pitching a tent on the beach, it’s always good to confirm with the authorities whether it’s allowed and the type of tent you can pitch.
While most of the beaches allow the pitching of tents, they put restrictions on the type or design of tents. For example, some beaches won’t allow the enclosed camping tent designs.
The good thing is that the internet has brought so much convenience, and it’s easy to know whether your particular type of tent is allowed to a certain beach at the comfort of your house.
You simply need to perform a quick search online to get the rules, regulations, and other important details you need to know about a particular beach.
Alternatively, you can also search on some of the popular beach camping forums to learn about the experiences of other beach campers.
Securing Regular Camping Tents on a Beach
Pitching a tent on the beach is an arduous task, and this is because of the loose sandy ground. It’s unlike securing your tent on solid terrain.
And when you add to the windy conditions often experienced at the beaches, it’s easy to find yourself chasing after your tent.
For example, last summer, we spent the weekend on the beach, and our huge REI Kingdom tent caught a lot of wind.
We even positioned our car right next to the tent to act as a wind buffer, but even then, we experienced some deformations.
While it was nothing serious, I imagine the damage that would have been there if the winds had been stronger.
Therefore, the first step to setting up any tent is knowing how to secure it properly.
There’re two main methods of securing your tent on the ground, and they include weighing down the tent and staking it down.
While one of the techniques is enough, I prefer using both methods to ensure the tent is properly secured and doesn’t get blown away by the wind.
Staking your Tent
The first step in securing your tent is using tent stakes and regular tent pegs.
Remember staking down your tent isn’t simply about pushing a few standard tent stakes into the ground. Normal tent stakes won’t work well in the sandy conditions, so you should plan on picking some longer ones.
Personally, I’d recommend using long rebars or any long metal pole. I usually use a vice to bend my rebars into hooks for better staking.
It holds the tent firmly in position while providing enough resistance and firmness to the tent against the wind.
Even then, the tent stakes are sufficient, especially when there’s a lot of wind.
You need to bolster your tent for extra sturdiness. Weighing down a tent offers the perfect way to do that.
Weighing Down your Tent
Complementing your stakes with extra weights is a nice way to bolster your tent’s security, firmness, and extra stability.
The cheapest route is using grocery sandbags filled with sand as far as tent weights go. Use two for every guy line.
Fill them about ¼ down, then bury them a foot down.
For comparison, my neighbor used sand anchors from the beach on my last summer camping trip, and the wind had pulled nearly half of the next morning.
And depending on the wind conditions, you could even double the weights for maximum tensile strength and firmness.
Understand that not any weight will work. Here’re a few considerations to make when selecting the ideal weights:
1) Consider the permanent weights
It’s a good idea to consider the permanent weight rather than the temporary objects such as coolers or other heavy objects.
2) Distribute the weight evenly.
Secondly, ensure the weights are evenly distributed or spread across your tent for better stability.
3) Avoid damaging weights
It’s tempting to use anything you may find lying around the beach, such as rocks and logs.
However, you should be careful about using such weights because most of them may have sharp ends or rough surfaces that can damage your tent fabric through punctures and tears.
Tips for Securing your Beach Tent
I’ve camped on Beah Johnson a couple of times, and there’re some handy DIY tips I usually employ to keep my tent staked on the ground.
For example, I usually leave the rain fly off to help the wind pass through when I camp. It’s especially a handy technique when I orient the low-profile side of the tent so that it’s facing the wind.
The strong winds effortlessly pass through the flap while at the same time keeping the conditions cool.
I also love staking my tent facing the wind to prevent the broadside winds.
Finally, we also consider pitching our larger tents in locations with natural barriers. For example, we usually like to set up behind a dune to be protected from the strongest wind.
If there’re no natural windbreakers, you could consider using your vehicle for wind protection.
Watching Out for the High Tide
I’m experienced at roughing it on beaches, and an excellent rule of thumb is to never sleep on a beach with no tidelines.
Avoid beaches with no foam, driftwood, scrap wood, or line of seaweed because it’s easy for the tide to come at the dead of the night and slam you.
On beaches with a history of the tide, you first need to know whether the sea is in the high or low tide season, especially if you need to camp overnight.
It’s important because sometimes, the tides can get as high as 50 feet during the high tide, especially on flat beaches.
Knowing about the tide is important for safety reasons but also saves you from the inconvenience of having to move your tent every time the tide comes.
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to determine the ideal pitching location is to consider the high tide.
Look at where the sand transitions from wet to dry and loose sand. Also, consider the debris tide line.
Generally, the tideline should give you an idea of what to expect, even during the high tide, and where the tide will diminish.
Of course, there’s always the risk of tide anomalies, especially if there’s a tropical storm. It may cause the tide to ride further than normal.
Keeping Sand out of a Standard Camping Tent on a Beach
If you always do tent camping at the beach, I know you’re always having difficulty dragging sand into your beach tent floor.
It’s one of the annoying aspects of camping on the beach.
Fortunately, you can employ a couple of handy tips to prevent sand from your living area.
One of my favorite methods is using baby powder.
Get some baby powder, scented or unscented, whatever you like and before you get into the tent, rub it on the sandy parts.
The sand will effortlessly fall off your body. And the good thing is the powder will also leave some coating on your body, so if you need to walk not very from the tent (gong to the washroom), and won’t stick.
And if it does, you simply need to powder again.
However, the baby powder trick is best used at the end of the day when retiring to your tent and not for those who frequently lather themselves with oil or lotions all day long.
It’s also not ideal for those who need to get in the tent now and then.
But that’s not the only tip I use when I’m under the stars at the beach.
Here’re some other handy techniques I usually consider;
1) When stepping into my tent, I usually place a heavy rubber doormat to provide a less sandy surface.
2) I usually consider the tent pitching location. My ideal location is on the green grass or locations with some vegetation instead of setting the tent on the sand.
3) Keeping my tent zipped all the time also helps to keep the sand from blowing inside.
4) Facing the tent entrance downwind or against the flow of the wind is also helpful in keeping the blowing sand away.
5) Finally, taking off my shoes or sandals I’ve been walking with on the sand helps keep the sand away.
Camping Tent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Are traditional camping tents good for the beach?
A: Yes, their traditional camping tents are an awesome substitute for beach tents. They offer superior UV protection while allowing the free flow of air.
The only concern with these tents is that they may not be allowed on some beaches because of their enclosed nature.
Q: Can I sleep at the beach?
A: Yes, but most beaches don’t allow it because of safety and health concerns.
But most will allow you to sleep in your RV at the beach.
It’s always a good idea to check with the beach authority before you attempt to sleep at the beach in your tent.
Q: Are beach canopy tents allowed on the beach?
A: Yes, most beaches will allow the use of beach tent canopies during a beach day.
The beach tent canopies usually meet the regulations of most beaches because they’re open on most sides and can be seen through.
The same can’t be said from the traditional camping tent.
Q: How do I get sand off my camping tent at the beach?
A: There’re a couple of ways of getting sand out of a tent.
You can start by flipping the beach tent upside down. If the sand doesn’t come off, consider vacuuming and hosing it down.
A beach camping tent offers a nice shelter solution at different locations, including the beach.
It offers plenty of UV protection while keeping the inside comfortable through the air mesh flaps.
However, camping tents may be restricted on some beaches because of the enclosed design. It’s always a good idea to check on their legality on your beach of choice before heading out.