Camping at the Beach

The allure of camping at the beach is undeniable. Imagine the soothing sound of waves as your nightly lullaby and the sunrise over the horizon as your morning wake-up call. In Texas, Fall can be a fabulous season to visit the beach. The Texas Coast boasts 367 miles of Gulf shoreline. The coast is home to several state parks, local beaches that allow beach camping, and numerous RV parks and resorts. Vacationers, wildlife watchers, sports enthusiasts, and seasonal snowbirds take advantage of visiting the campgrounds that dot the Southeast Texas shoreline all year around. I just returned from hosting the Girl Camper event, Toes in the Water Two, in Galveston, TX, where 32 women came to enjoy camping at the beach.

While the idyllic setting of camping at the beach offers countless joys, it also presents unique challenges to tent campers, RVs, and trailers. Here’s a list of tips to ensure a more enjoyable trip.

The Water

We go to the beach to enjoy the water! The ocean is majestic and full of wonder, and it activates all our senses. We must also treat it with respect because it can be a powerful force of nature. Here are a few things to remember when camping at the beach.

  • If you are camping directly on the beach, one of the biggest mistakes is underestimating the power and unpredictability of tides. Before you set up camp, be sure to check the local tide schedules. Do not pitch your tent or park your trailer too close to the water. That is to say, always set up camp far enough to avoid the high tide mark, or you might find it surrounded by water from rising tides.
  • Check with local authorities for strong currents, dangerous marine life warnings (stinging jellyfish or rays), red tides, or any local advisories before diving in. With this in mind, many beaches will have beach flag warning systems in place to help identify potential water threats. Pro Tip:  Visit the Weather.Gov website and download the app. Enter your location and sign up for weather and marine alerts while staying along the coast. 
  • Subsequently, when it is time to return home from your trip to the beach, remember that Saltwater and its mist are corrosive. Rinse your RV or trailer off, especially the undercarriage, with fresh water after your beach stay. Investing in anti-corrosion sprays for metal parts can also be beneficial if you are planning an extended stay.

The Sand

Be prepared to deal with sand when you are camping at the beach. To begin with, here is a critical reminder: sand can damage your trailer or RV’s plumbing. Minimize how much sand you bring into your camper and what gets washed down your sink or shower drains. Here are a few tips for sand management to make your stay more enjoyable and keep your trailer clean.

  • Set up a simple foot washing station outside your RV using a portable shower or just a water jug with a spout. Before entering the RV, everyone can rinse their feet to wash away any clinging sand. Pro Tip: Keep a small container of baby powder (talcum powder) in your beach bag. Sprinkle liberally on dry feet and legs, then brush off the sand with a dry towel.  
  • Subsequently, designate specific towels for outdoor use and hang them on an exterior rack or line. Avoid bringing them inside until they’ve been thoroughly shaken out or washed.
  • Concurrently, set up a shoe rack or storage bin outside or just inside the door for everyone to leave their footwear. Also, consider providing flip-flops or sandals that are easy to shake off and only used outside.
  • Finally, if one is available, use the campground’s showering facility to rinse off or wash your hair before bathing in your trailer. Pro Tip: If you need a quick rinse and there isn’t a shower at your campground, check out the Shower Toga for a modest way to clean off the sand anywhere.
Girl Camper Southeast Texas Guide Lisa Dempsey is walking on the beach at Toes in the Water Two event.

The Sun and Wind

The sun and wind can damage equipment and ruin a good time while camping at the beach. Nonetheless, we are here to be outside and enjoy the elements! Here are a few reminders to help you avoid problems with the sun and wind.

  • Firstly, wear Sunscreen. Stay hydrated with water and electrolyte drinks. Wear protective clothing, including a hat and sunglasses. Even in the cooler days of fall, the sun can cause damage to your skin.
  • Secondly, coastal areas can get very windy. Items left outside while camping at the beach, from chairs to grills, can become projectiles. Ensure everything is weighted down or stored securely. Pro Tip: Use sand anchors or water weights to secure your awning and any other outdoor setups. Gusty winds can rip awnings right off a camper. Plan in advance if you will be away from your campsite for long periods of time. The wind can ramp up unexpectedly, and you may return to find your trailer awning damaged if left unattended.

Wildlife and Safety Regulations

Finally, one of the reasons we love the beach so much is that we are close to nature and share the shoreline and ocean with so many species of birds, marine life, mammals, reptiles, flora, and fauna. It is their home 365 days a year, and we must remember we are guests in their home while camping at the beach.

  • Follow no-trace procedures when you leave the beach. Avoid leaving your gear piled up on the shore overnight. Trash, food waste, and plastic containers destroy our beautiful coastline when left behind and are also dangerous to the wildlife who call it home. Turtles nesting along the shoreline may get caught up in gear or fall into holes dug in the sand. Neglecting to follow the leave-no-trace policies can leave wildlife vulnerable to predators or cause other injuries. Pro Tip: Bring an extra trash bag and spend thirty minutes PLOGGING (Picking Litter Off the Ground) before you leave each day to help keep our beaches beautiful.
  • Building a fire on the beach can be a memorable experience. Be sure to check with the local authorities for any burn bans and regulations for beach fires or other open flames on the beach. Be sure to dowse fires with water until all embers are out. Pro Tip: Never cover your fire with sand! Covering warm embers or trying to extinguish a fire by burying it with sand is very dangerous and has caused burns to people and animals. The sand stays hot and could collapse inward if stepped on accidentally. Note: Some beaches have exclusive disposal bins for burned wood to help keep the beaches clean and safe.

Lisa Dempsey is the Southeast Texas Chapter Guide for Girl Camper. She lives in Kingwood, Texas, with her husband Robert, two fluffy Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and her teenage son. In addition to being a guide, Lisa is the CEO and Founder of the Forgotten Wishes Foundation, whose mission is to help people with disabilities combat feelings of loneliness and isolation and create a society of belonging.

Girl Camper is a women’s lifestyle brand focusing on camping, outdoor activities, camaraderie, and travel. Our national company produces the award-winning Girl Camper Magazine, has a website with informative and fun blog posts, hosts events and excursions, and maintains national and local social network communities on Facebook. Search for Girl Camper on Facebook and find your local chapter.

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