Travel trailer on beach at sunset

Expert Advice

Oceanfront RVing: 14 Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Camping on the Beach

Check out these tips from Jeremy Puglisi on making the most of your next beachfront RV adventure!

Some RV owners prefer camping in the mountains, and some prefer camping by the sea. Our family loves taking our RV to epic locations in and around the mountains like Acadia National Park and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. But at the end of the day, we love nothing more than taking our RV to the beach and getting as close to the water as we can.

We also know that RVing on the beach is quite a bit different than getting a typical campsite in the woods. You really do have to pack and prepare differently. As far as packing goes, you may find yourself bringing extra gear along for the ride. In terms of preparation, you must have a daily strategy in place to deal with the wind, sand, sun, and water.

Once you get your beach camping strategy locked into place, the rewards can be breathtaking. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets await you, as do swimming, surfing, fishing, sunbathing, and so much more. We love nothing more than spending long days on the beach and relaxing nights back at our RV cooking and sitting around the campfire under the stars.

Here are 14 quick tips that will help you prepare for your first (or next!) great beach camping adventure!

1. Book Your Trip Early.

Beach camping is very popular and there are far fewer campgrounds on the beach than there are in the mountains or the woods.  Reservations can be competitive--so make sure you know when booking windows open up and grab your dream site as quickly as you can.

2. Understand the Seasonal Climate of Your Beachfront Destination

The weather for beach camping can vary widely from state to state, and even within larger states like California and Florida. If you are dreaming of taking a warm beach camping trip for spring break, then make sure you understand the average temperature and weather conditions at your desired location. We live in New Jersey where it can still be cold and windy at the beach in April--so we always head to Myrtle Beach for a much better chance at warm weather.

3. Utilize Your RV’s Awning but Don’t Leave it Unattended

Many beachfront campgrounds lack shade, and they can get quite hot in the summertime (again, depending on location) so your RV awning can quickly become your best friend. But campgrounds right on the ocean can also get very windy without little to no notice. We love to take our RV to Cape Hatteras--and we use our awning there all the time. But we never leave it open and unattended--because awnings can easily be damaged in high winds.

4. Purchase an Outdoor Rug and Broom

We love the sand--when it stays on the beach where it belongs! We don’t like having sand all over our outdoor living area around the RV--but sometimes it is hard to avoid. Having a spacious outdoor rug (and a good old-fashioned broom to keep the sand away) can really help keep things neat and tidy.

5. Rinse Off with Your RV’s Outdoor Shower

If your RV has an outdoor shower, then plan on using it a lot during your beach camping trip. Rinsing off sandy feet before entering the RV is an absolute must for our family. If your RV does not have an outdoor shower, then plan on keeping a bucket of water right outside of your RV’s front door for the same purpose. Sandy feet are never allowed in our RV, and they should never be allowed in yours either.

6. Use a Handheld Vacuum to Keep Sand Out of Beds

Let’s be honest though. No matter how hard you try, some sand will find its way into your RV, especially if you have little campers. The worst-case scenario is that sand will get into your blankets and pillows and bother you at night. Sounds annoying, right? We always keep a small handheld vacuum in our RV that works perfectly for vacuuming sand out of sheets and off of the floor. It works like a charm for beach camping.

7. Bring Dedicated Beach Chairs

Most RV owners travel with camp chairs that they use around the campfire. Unfortunately, most of these chairs are not designed for use at the beach and will sink into the sand if used there. We always bring dedicated beach chairs on beach camping trips. This allows us to keep our camp chairs around the campfire where they belong.

8. Bring Separate Beach Towels

Bringing your bath towels down to the beach is not a very good idea. Who wants to use a sandy towel when they get out of the shower? Having separate beach towels--and having a dedicated place to hang them--is an absolute must. Quick dry towels work the best and they can be used again and again before needing to be washed.

9. Keep Your Shades Closed During the Day

Because there can be a serious lack of shade at many beachfront campgrounds your RV can get hot inside--especially in the summertime. Running the air conditioner obviously helps if you can do so. But if you are camping without hookups you will want to do whatever you can to keep things cool. Keeping all your shades down during the day when you are out enjoying the beach can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping your RV cool.

10. Respect the Ocean

When I was young my grandfather used to always tell me to respect the ocean. Spending long days swimming and surfing can be heavenly--but you also need to be careful and take precautions. If you can swim near a lifeguard, you should. If the water is too rough, you should consider staying out. You should also always keep a close eye on little ones that are swimming--whether the water appears to be rough or not.

11. Stay Hydrated and Protect Your Skin

When you are beach camping (especially in warm weather) you should make sure you drink lots of water and protect your skin from the sun. When you are enjoying the water for hours and hours it can be easy to forget to stay hydrated. Bring lots of water down on the beach with you and make sure you use it. If you have an outdoor kitchen in your RV keep it stocked with cold bottles of water. If you don’t have an outdoor fridge, then keep a cooler under your RV in the shade

12. Bring Fun Beach Games

The games that you keep in your RV for campsite use may not be very easy to lug down onto the beach. We recommend bringing a few games that are easy to carry and work well in the sand. Wiffle Ball and Spike Ball are great, and so are paddle ball and Frisbee. Bringing a football to toss around in the ocean is always fun too.

13. You May Need a Raised Fire Pit

Some beach camping locations do not allow campfires in traditional fire pits, but they will allow campfires in raised fire pits. Always call ahead and ask or check out the campground’s rules on their website. We have camped in locations that provide these fire pits upon request, and we have camped in locations that require you to bring your own. It’s best to know before you go so you don’t end up disappointed when you realize you are unprepared to have a campfire.

14. Secure Your Food at Night

Most RV owners know that you should secure your food at night when camping in the woods where bears and other wildlife may be active. It’s important to know that those same rules also apply when beach camping. Local wildlife can and will get into food that is left out at your campsite--and chances are it is very unhealthy for them. So please be a good citizen of the great outdoors and pack up and store all your food at night.

Beach camping certainly does require a bit more packing and planning. But our most magical memories as RV owners have come at campgrounds like Assateague Island State Park and the Cape Hatteras KOA. We love beach camping so much and dream about getting our RV to the beach all winter long. We know you will have an awesome time beach camping too--as long as you come prepared and ready for fun in the sand, sun, and water.

Jeremy Puglisi is the host of the RV Atlas podcast and the co-author of the bestselling books Where Should We Camp Next?, Where Should We Camp Next? National Parks and Where Should We Camp Next? Camping 101. His next book, Where Should We Camp Next? Budget Camping will be published by Sourcebooks in April of 2024. All of the Where Should We Camp Next? books are available online and in bookstores across the country.

Jeremy Puglisi

Author and co-host of the RV Atlas podcast

Jeremy Puglisi is the co-host of the RV Atlas podcast and the co-author of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and Where Should We Camp Next: A 50 State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and other Unique Outdoor Accommodations. He loves nothing more than hitching up and heading out to the next campground with his family.