Beach tents are not conventional camping tents, so it’s easy to conflate the two and think that you’re talking about the same thing. Camping tents are distinct and separate from beach tents, however, so can you use a camping tent at the beach?
You not only can, but if you are camping at the beach then a camping tent is definitely the way to go. They’re thicker, more durable, withstand the sun, and are more equipped to deal with the sand and heavy winds that are often a mainstay at the beach.
Beach tents aren’t the wrong way to go but they are designed more for a casual day on the beach, like a beach umbrella, with just a little more cover. A camping tent comes with a ton of advantages over a beach tent, especially if you decide that you want to camp out and spend the night, listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline.
💡 Note: If you’re bringing your dog to the beach, we’ve written an entire article on the best dog tents currently available.
Advantages of a camping tent over a beach tent
There are a lot of key differences here, both for camping out on the beach during the day or spending the night. The beach tent is essentially a protective covering to keep the sand from slapping you in the face and the sun off of your back.
For what it’s worth, what the beach tent does, it does well. However, they are usually open on one side, which makes them more like an extended beach umbrella than anything else.
Keep in mind, however, that no matter what way you go, if you’re looking to keep the beach sand away, good luck because there is nothing on the entire planet that can withstand itchy beach sand finding its way into your clothes. With that being said, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what makes a camping tent the better option.
- Much higher level of privacy
- More durable and wind-resistant
- Its a much better option for those sneaky, afternoon thunderstorms
- Better insulation
- Come in much more varied sizes
If you’re looking for a day out on the beach, you don’t want to haul a whole bunch of stuff down to the shoreline, and you’re going to pack it in and head home well before the sun goes down, then a beach tent is a perfect option for you.
However, if you want to go camping, you should buy a camping tent or break out the one that you have, regardless of the location.
Camping tents have more privacy
Privacy isn’t that big of a deal if you’re just out with the family on the beach for a day. If nothing else, there are usually shower houses and bathrooms in public facilities dotted here and there, close to the shoreline.
For overnight camping though, you’re going to want a bit of privacy. The level of privacy that you get with a camping tent is much better, especially if you’re camping out with family and have a multi-room tent. That way everyone can get changed out of their bathing suits and back into them in private. They even have camping shower tents that you can line up close to your camping spot.
Camping tents have increased durability and wind resistance
Since camping tents have a thicker canvas, it protects you from more than just UV rays. It’s also a matter of wind resistance and durability in a place where blowing sand and wind is almost always relentless.
Part of the durability and wind resistance that you get with a camping tent comes from the fact that they are staked down to the ground much better than beach tents are. The framework and structure of a camping tent are also far superior in terms of durability.
Camping tents protect better in thunderstorms
For all of the reasons so far listed and mentioned above, it would be much better to be caught out in a thunderstorm with a camping tent than it would in a beach tent. They’re just far more durable in adverse weather conditions.
Camping tents offer better insulation
Camping tents are designed for a “roughing it” lifestyle, which includes getting caught out in the rain, subfreezing temperatures, mud, blowing sand, sleet, and snow. While a camping tent is certainly not going to keep you warm in freezing temperatures or cool in the blazing sun, they facilitate the use of secondary cooling and warming mechanisms.
In other words, a portable A/C, fan, or heater is going to have a more obvious and welcome effect inside of a camping tent. The level of insulation in a camping tent allows for heating and cooling within and you can always open the tent up to the outside and let in some fresh air.
Camping tents have more variety in sizes
A lot of people will point to giant gazebos and claim that they are beach tents. Well, if you want to point at a snail and call it an alligator, then whatever floats your boat. But when it comes to actual tents, camping tents offer an enormous variety in terms of choice in size.
No matter how you want to spend your beach camping trip, you can choose from a 16-person tent mansion or a more intimate, 2-person alternative.
The biggest drawback of a camping tent on the beach
Camping tents don’t usually have anything in the way of UV resistance. There are some, like the Coleman Skydome series that offer a high degree of UV resistance in the form of “darkroom” technology. There are many others that are similar, however, most camping tents lack it.
But, that’s not as bad of a drawback as you think because you can always change your tent to be more resistant to UV. One of the options that you have at your disposal is a coating system that will give your tent a proper level of UV resistance, such as Nikwax UV proof spray, but you have to apply it the right way.
- Set up your tent and lay it out like you would if you were camping
- Make sure that you set it up near your water hose
- Seal up the windows and make sure all of the openings are zipped
- Rinse the tent down really well with cold water
- Spray the tent down with UV proof spray
- Wipe it all down after allowing it to settle for a few
- Give your tent time to dry off and pack it back up
This will effectively UV-proof your tent for up to a year, so you would want to reapply it on an annual basis.
You could also consider purchasing add-ons for your tent such as tarps to keep it covered throughout the day or gazebo-like canopies that can stand vigil over the top of your tent while the sun is at its zenith.
Do beaches allow you to camp overnight?
Not all beaches do but you will probably find that most are completely open to campers, even if a specific area is set aside for RVs, teardrops, pop-ups, and tents. If you want to camp on the beach, look for state parks that are largely set aside on the beachfront because most of them will allow camping in one degree or another.
As an example of campgrounds that are set aside for beach use, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more popular beachfront camping spots in the country.
- Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Fl.
- Bahia Honda in South Florida
- Brazoria Beach Surfside Beach, Texas
- Deer Island, Mississippi
- Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana
- Hammocks Beach State Park, North Carolina
- South Beach Corpus Christi, Texas
Honestly, that’s a really small sample of the hundreds of places along the beach, whether it’s the Atlantic, Pacific, or the Gulf of Mexico. If you live near the beach, the odds are, you will be able to find a palace where camping on the beach is allowed.
💡 Note: To avoid getting bored at the beach, you should consider camping at a beach with a nearby hiking trail.
Tips for pitching a camping tent on a beach
Camping out on the beach is a lot different than camping in the woods, on a secluded lake, or on a traditional campground. It’s windy almost all of the time, and storms roll in with little to no warning. It pays to come prepared.
- Make sure that your camping tent is securely staked to the ground
- Bring tent weight bags along, just in case
- Don’t pitch your tent too close to the surf
- Bring a heavy-duty doormat
- Keep the side of the tent facing the wind secured and windows closed
Most of the precautions that you need to take, when out on a beach, revolve around wind resistance. So long as you bring the stakes and keep it weighted down, you should be fine. Keep your windows (the ones facing the wind) shut as well, so the wind can’t get a grasp on the underneath of your tent canopy.
Not only can camping tents be used on the beach, but they’re also probably the better option over beach tents, especially if you are planning on making it an overnight stay. Just remember to bring your sunscreen and properly prep your tent with UV spray, weight bags, and stakes to face the wind.