Tips for camping on a beach
Many states do not allow camping on the beach, but there are still some areas, including a lot of the Texas coast, where you can set up right on the beach. Planning is important if you want to get the most out of your excursion. The first thing to do is to make a list of what you need to take. The first thing to put on your list of what you want to take is a shovel. You will need it. If you do not have four-wheel drive (or maybe even if you do) you are going to get stuck in the sand. A shovel is essential. You will also want a tent. Sleeping under the stars sounds romantic but it is no fun when a rainstorm blows in off the water. Most tents come with short plastic stakes. They are just about worthless. Go to a sporting goods store like Academy and buy some long metal stakes. They are cheap and you can drive them deep into the sand. If you just use the short plastic stakes that came with your tent you may have the distinct pleasure of chasing down your tent after the wind blows it into the dunes.
Some things you will definitely want to bring are a couple of flashlights, toilet paper (another good reason to bring a shovel), non-perishable food, blankets and towels, a bucket (why a bucket? I don’t know but we always take one and we always use it for something), a hammer for driving tent stakes, lots of liquids, and a simple first-aid kit.
Once you arrive at the beach I know you will be anxious to find a spot and set up your camp. Be patient. If you camp close to where the road hits the beach you will have a shorter drive if you have to go get something but you will also have all the traffic entering and leaving the beach right in your front yard. Drive down the beach. Keep your eyes open for a large log far from the water and lying parallel to the beach. That is where you want to be. It should not be close to the water because you do not want to find out it is high tide at midnight when the water comes into your tent. Also, you need to stay out of traffic lanes.
Once you find a suitable location, with the large tree parallel to the beach, a flat space to pitch your tent, and a place to park your vehicle, it is time to set up camp. There are three things that must be the first thing you do. Sounds funny, but you really should do each of these right away. You need to set up your tent, dig a fire pit, and gather firewood. If it is close to the end of the day, set up the tent first. It is much easier to do it properly in the daylight.
Use your shovel (you brought a shovel, right?) to dig a fire pit on the land side of the log. This will protect your campfire from the wind, which nearly always comes directly off the water. Gather wood. Gather some more wood. Then go and get some more wood. If your campfire can’t be seen from space, it is not big enough. Drag up some more wood. If you have room to bring one, a wagon is a wonderful tool for gathering wood. It means a lot less walking.
Be sure your tent is on the side of the fire pit, not directly behind it. Sparks blowing onto your tent in the middle of the night could be a memorable experience.
Okay. Your tent is up, your fire is going, and you have a big pile of wood. Roast some hot dogs, drink some beer, tell some lies, listen to the waves crashing, smell the salty air. Heaven.