Dear Mountain Mama,

I love the outdoors; my girlfriend loves the beach. She’s never camped before, but I’ve talked her into going beach camping with me.

Any tips to make beach camping more enjoyable?

Thanks,

Beach Bum

Dear Beach Bum:

There’s nothing more romantic than the ocean lulling you to sleep and watching the sunrise over the ocean the next morning. Your girlfriend is sure to fall in love with camping as long as you plan ahead for the elements. Beach camping requires the right gear to protect you from the sun, wind, sand, and biting insects.

  1. Sun. It sounds silly to say, but make sure to apply sunscreen fifteen minutes before getting to the campsite, even on cloudy days. Cover your feet, ears, and top of your head. Nothing ends the fun of beach camping faster than sleeping on sunburned skin. Most beach campgrounds have little to no natural shade and many find the sun unrelenting. Plan ahead and bring your own source of shade. A screened tent is a nice option, providing a reprieve from the sun and bugs.
  1. Wind. Strong ocean breezes have been known to blow away tents. While it’s entertaining to watch others tear down the beach trying to retrieve a tent that’s halfway to Europe, your girlfriend might not be all that amused if it’s her tent. Bring long stakes that will penetrate deep into the sand and hold your tent in place. The wind can also make it difficult to light a stove. Bring a screen for cooking. Also bring pots with lids that fit well to keep your food from being especially crunchy.
  1. Sand. Speaking of sand, it gets everywhere when camping at the beach. I’ve never been accused of being a neat freak, and even I insist on bringing a small broom to sweep out the tent. Bringing a ground cover that’s bigger than the tent also provides a make-shift area for wiping the sand off feet before entering the tent. Keeping the tent sand-free goes a long way toward keeping the peace at the beach.
  1. Biting Insects. Many beach campsites come with their own army to welcome you – armies of horseflies and mosquitoes. But swarms of biting insects don’t have to ruin your beach camping trip as long as you’re prepared. Many swear by heavy industrial strength DEET. Some super resilient beach bugs bite through clothing and tents. Consider buying repellent for nylon and cotton. Citronella torches work well around the campsite and burning sage in a campfire helps to repel bugs.

Enjoy the surf!

Mountain Mama