The answer isn’t straightforward, as rules about tents on beaches can vary depending on where you are. Some beaches prohibit tents altogether, while others have designated campsites where tents are allowed.
Many popular beaches restrict tents to certain areas or require permits for beach camping, so before you haul your tent down to the shore for a beachfront campout, check first with the city for local regulations about any restrictions.
The last thing you want is to set up your tent only to have it confiscated or even face legal trouble. With a quick research you can find beaches that welcome tents and enjoy a fun, stress-less, and legal beach camping trip.
Read on to learn more about tents on beaches and how to plan an epic beach camping adventure.
Beach Tents vs. Camping Tents
They are not the same. UV protection is probably the main difference between beach and camping tents.
While it is a must for beach tents, for camping tents it isn’t that important. These are more focused on providing protection from natural elements (cold, rain, etc.) and so tend not to be UV-resistant.
Beach tents also differ from camping tents in how they are set up. Due to all the loose sand on a beach, beach tents need to be properly secured to withstand it.
There are two main options to achieve this:
These may be included when you purchase your tent, or can easily be created:
Fill a bag with beach sand (remember that the sand bags’ stability will increase with more weight)
Unless the wind is exceptionally strong, one bag fastened to lines on each corner of the tent is enough
Don’t attach the guy lines to the bags before these are filled with sand! Place the sandbag at a distance from the line that enables it to be stretched tightly, then firmly secure all four corners.
You may also bury the sandbags between six inches and a foot beneath the ground in the sand for further stability.
Sand anchors are a good alternative to sandbags.
The guy lines are fastened to them just like ordinary tent pegs. The sand anchor, however, can have a threaded base that resembles a large corkscrew that can be driven deep into the sand. These work best when you remove the loosest, dry sand by digging down several inches, then screw the spike into the harder, wetter sand. You can still use soft sand, but it won’t be the same.
Both of these concepts are akin to a deadman anchor. You bury a guy line between nine inches and a foot deep in the sand after wrapping it around a pole or tent peg. You then cover it again with sand. Remember however that you will have more protection if you cover it with rocks.
Why Do Some Beaches Ban Tents?
Beach tents seem like a great idea for a fun day in the sun, but some beaches have banned them altogether. Why?
Many popular beaches struggle with overcrowding, especially in the summer. Beach tents take up a lot of space that other beachgoers could use for sunbathing or other activities. Some beaches limit tents to a certain size or ban them during the peak season to free up more room.
Tents can also pose safety risks like blocking lifeguard views or access points in an emergency. Their poles and stakes create tripping hazards for people walking by, and strong winds can even send unsecured tents flying (with the fabric being blown into the ocean, polluting the beach and water).
Some beach communities feel that tents disrupt the natural beauty and openness of the beach.
They want to maintain an unobstructed ocean view for all visitors, so banning tents is an easy way to address these concerns, even if it inconveniences some beachgoers.
If your favorite beach has banned tents, you’ll have to find other ways to shelter and escape the sun and heat. Look for beaches that still allow tents but have rules in place to minimize issues, or consider renting umbrellas, cabanas, or other temporary beach shelters as an alternative. You can still enjoy a fun, relaxing day at the beach with some compromises.
Popular Beach Destinations and Their Tent Policies
Can You Put Up Tents in Myrtle Beach?
Tent camping is allowed in certain areas of Myrtle Beach, but there are a few regulations you’ll want to keep in mind.
Myrtle Beach has designated camping zones at the southern end of the beach, specifically between 21st Ave. S. and 57th Ave. S., that allow tent camping with a permit. Permits can be purchased on location or in advance through the city’s website, and fees range from $25 to $45 per night, depending on the season.
Tent camping in the designated zones is limited to 14 consecutive days. After that, you’ll have to move to a new location at least 1 mile away. This helps prevent permanent occupation of camping spots and ensures availability for other beachgoers.
Can You Bring a Tent to Ocean Beach?
While Ocean Beach in San Francisco is a popular spot for beachgoing and recreation, camping is prohibited.
However, if you want to camp nearby, there are a few options.
Ocean Beach abuts Golden Gate Park, where camping is allowed with a permit that can be obtained via the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. Remember that permits are limited, so apply in advance.
Can You Put Up Tents in Virginia Beach?
In Virginia Beach, tents and canopies are allowed in designated areas. However, there are a few beach rules to keep in mind:
You’ll need to obtain a permit to set up a tent. Permits only allow tents up to 10 feet by 10 feet, so you’ll need to check with the local authorities for larger tents. Permits are typically inexpensive, around $25 to $50 for a multi-day stay
Be extremely cautious with any open flames like grills, stoves, or campfires. Only use approved camping gear
Respect quiet hours and any posted beach rules regarding noise, pets, or alcohol. Many family beaches prohibit loud music, and rowdy behavior by kids or have leash laws for dogs after certain hours
Can You Sleep in a Tent on the Beach in Florida?
In most cases, yes, you can sleep overnight in a tent on the beach in Florida. However, there are a few regulations to keep in mind:
Many Florida beaches require a permit for overnight camping. Check with the local government website for the particular beach that you’ll be visiting to determine if you need a permit and how to obtain one. Permits typically range from $10 to $30 per night
Some beaches designate specific areas for beach camping and tents, so look for signage directing you to the permitted overnight areas. You’ll also want to check when quiet hours are enforced at other beaches and any rules about fires, alcohol, pets, etc.
Always be respectful of other beachgoers and the environment.
Are Beach Tents Allowed in NJ?
In New Jersey, beach tents and canopies are allowed on most public beaches, but once again, there are regulations you need to keep in mind.
Tents and canopies must be placed in designated areas, at least 10 to 15 feet away from the dune line and any beach access points
They cannot obstruct the view or access for lifeguards or emergency responders
Some beaches designate tent-free zones, so look for signage when you arrive
If you keep an open eye for local rules and respect them, most beaches permit tents throughout the day, some even overnight. We really do not recommend ignoring local regulations, as you can have your tent confiscated and even face legal action. Just pick your beach carefully, follow the rules and have fun!