Traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway is a fun adventure, but you can always take it one step further by camping on the beach. The PCH offers beach camping locations you can stop at for a night or even a week.
Let’s just say that nothing is better than waking up to crashing waves or enjoying the stars glowing overhead before drifting off to sleep.
If beach camping sounds like your thing, you will need to pack and bring all the essentials. Here is everything you’ll want to have a great time camping at the beach.
Beach Camping Tent
Obviously, you need a shelter for beach camping if you’re not using a van, camper or RV. Tent camping along the PCH is fun but protects you against the elements. You’ll need a tent that can hold up to the beach weather and provide enough room for all to fit in. The REI Co-op Base Camp 4 tent is excellent for a family. It has a geodesic-dom and is made from rugged materials, creating a roomy tent for all to sleep in.
For more of a budget-friendly tent, try out the Coleman Cabin Tent. Set up takes 60 seconds and has room for six people or two queen-size beds.
Trust us; you need sand stakes whenever you’re beach camping. This will allow you to anchor your tent to the sand and stay there. Ensure the stakes you buy are made for sand and won’t be easily ripped up when the wind picks up.
You’ll have a better night’s rest if you’re bundled up in a nice sleeping bag. For beach camping on the PCH, one that is warm is the best bet for your comfort when you’re out. The Big Agnes sleeping bag is great for all elements and weather; it’s lightweight and works for every season.
Try out the Coleman 30 F Palmetto Sleeping Bag for a budget-friendly option.
Lanterns or Headlamp
The dark will creep up fast, and having a lantern or headlamp will be beneficial. A battery-powered LED camping lantern is your best bet for light when waiting for the sun to come up. A personal headlamp works well when you need your hands at night or you’re looking for something.
This seems weird on a camping list, but trust us, you want your feet protected. Waterproof slides are the perfect option for shower sandals because the water won’t ruin them, and you can easily slip them on and off when needed. The Birkenstock Arizona EVA Sandals are great because they’re comfy and look good.
First Aid Kit
You should already have a first aid kit in your car, but here is another reminder. Having one of these when camping is essential for everyone’s safety. You can buy one online easily or make your own. The kit should have these items in it:
- alcohol wipes
- allergy pills
- eye drops
- lip balm
- Ice Pack
- Ace Bandage
Rolls of Toilet Paper
Biodegradable toilet paper is a must because you never know when it will be stocked. Some campsites have bathrooms; some don’t, and you don’t want to be left without the toilet paper. Bring a few rolls with you to have them when you need them.
A tarp isn’t necessary for beach camping, but it makes it easier. You can set the tarp up outside your tent to help get less sand in, but it can also come in handy in case bad weather hits or your tent rips. You never know when extra protection is needed, and a tarp can help.
Matches or a Lighter
It would be best if you had a fire, plain and simple, so make life easier by having a lighter or waterproof matches. You can use these to create a fire, light a grill, or who knows what else, but they are always handy. Make sure if you go the matches route to get waterproof ones.
Quick Drying Towels
You’re by the ocean, right, and you might want to take a dip. Quick-drying towels will make life so much simpler regarding beach camping. These towels will take up less room in your bag and dry fast. Wise Owl Travel Towels are an excellent option for beach camping, and you can even use them as a blanket if need be.
Water Bottle and Gallons of Water
Having your water bottle with you is always wise. You can fill it up when you’re in town, and it’s durable. Throwing a few gallons of water in your car or RV is smart since not all campsites have water hookups, and you’ll be out of luck if you aren’t close to town.
This isn’t necessary, but camp chairs are nice if you love spending time outside on the beach. The REI Co-op Camp X Chair is an excellent choice because it’s lightweight, easy to use, and reasonable price. A plus is that it comes in numerous colors, matching your camping style.
Another thing you might not need but is nice is cooler. If you plan to bring food and drinks, a place to keep this is what a cooler will be helpful for. The Yeti Tundra Haul is an excellent cooler because it keeps everything cold for days, has two wheels, and is easy to transport even when fully loaded. If you need a smaller option, try an insulated cooler bag. They’re lighter and smaller but won’t keep everything cold as long. The Yeti Hopper M20 Soft Cooler Backpack is a great option.
Not Necessary, but Nice to Have Beach Camping
The items below aren’t anything you need for a successful camping trip, but it makes life a little easier.
- Sleeping bag padding
- Extra blankets and Serape-style blankets
- Air Mattress
- Solar Charger
- Electric Stove
- Dishes and Utensils
- Sunshade or Canopy
With this list, you’ll be set to go on all your beach camping adventures along the Pacific Coast Highway. The biggest thing to remember is clean up after yourself, leave no trace, and get permits and reservations if needed for the campsites you want.