Guide to Camping on Sand: Beach, Dunes, and Desert (10 Tips)

Last Updated on 21/06/2021

Guide to Camping On Sand

Whether you are camping at the beach, in the dunes, or in the desert, some simple steps make camping on sand more enjoyable. In this guide, you will learn tips on how to camp on sand, how to set up a tent on sand, and what to do when your pegs won’t stay in the ground. 

Camping on sand

Camping at the beach provides you with amazing views and is the best place to watch the sunrise and fall. The freedom you feel when camping in the desert is like nothing else and the clearness of the stars and night sky is beyond epic. The dunes offer you privacy and solitude and can provide good shelter from the wind if you are close to the ocean. I think we can all appreciate the appeal of camping in sandy places and understand that it has very little to do with the sand itself.

Aside from the awesome views, freedom, and solitude, the benefits of sand camping are that you often don’t struggle to find a level camping spot, the sand molds to your body and is very comfy, and can help keep you cool hot night. The main downside of beach camping is that sand gets absolutely everywhere and can be especially annoying when cooking. Another downside is that traditional tent pegs don’t work very well in sand, especially in high winds, and so finding an alternative is a good idea. Having the right type of tent stake for sand will be crucial to getting a good night’s sleep.

How to camp on sand

When camping at the beach or in the desert the most important thing is being prepared. This means choosing the right tent for sand, as well as the correct pegs, sleeping bags, and mats amongst many other things. There are some simple tips for camping on sand at the bottom of the page that will help you make the most of your beach or desert adventure.

guide to sand camping

Choosing a tent for sand

When camping on sand you can make life easier for yourself if you get a geodesic tent that is freestanding and doesn’t need pegs to stay up. Some features to look for are bucket floors that rise at least 5 inches off the ground which will help to keep sand out, light-colored fabric with UV blocking fabric, and good ventilation. One thing to be aware of is that sandy beaches and deserts tend to be quite exposed and so should be built to withstand strong wind. A large porch area can help when cooking or preparing food as it will act as a wind block to prevent sand from blowing into your food.

Choosing a pitch on sand

When looking for a place to erect your tent, the same rules apply to sand as with any other type of ground. You should be looking for the flattest and level patch that you can so that you don’t end up rolling downhill into the tent walls. You should always check for obstructions and sharp objects like rocks and sticks which may be hiding just below the surface. If you can, try and find a sheltered location that could potentially block wind and prevent you from getting blasted with sand in a storm.

guide to camping at the beach

Setting up your tent on sand

Once you have your level area of ground you need to decide where your head will go and what direction to lie which can be influenced by the ground gradient, wind direction, or view from inside the tent. When setting up your tent you need to always make sure that you keep a hold of it or secure it while you insert the poles. The last thing you want is for it to get caught by the wind and take off like a kite. Once the poles are in you need to make sure it is orientated the right way before securing it with pegs or anchors.

Securing your tent in sand

Securing your tent is crucial on a beach or open spaces as wind can come out of nowhere and before you know it you’ve run 2 miles chasing after it as it blows away. The first line of defense is putting your backpack and camping gear inside which will add some weight before you properly anchor it down. Traditional tent pegs don’t work very well in sand and so it is worth investing in some sand anchors or soft ground tent stakes. Rocks and improvised sandbags are ideal but not always available so learning to bury your stakes or buying some sand anchors is a good tip. Check out our post on choosing the right type of tent stake for sand.

Keeping sand out of your tent

This is impossible but it can be controlled by creating simple habits before you enter your tent and purchasing appropriate equipment beforehand. A beach towel doormat will allow you to clean any sand off your feet but a sand-free surf changing mat has a unique design that stops sand from sitting on top and will work much better. You can also take measures such as wearing beach shoes that you take off at the door or avoiding sitting on sand when you are wet. A good tip is to position your door away from the wind direction to stop it from blowing sand in when you open it.

guide to camping in the desert

What else do you need for beach camping?

Even though beaches can get blisteringly hot during the day, at night temperatures can drop dramatically and that hot sand can get freezing cold very quickly. Even though sand is very comfy and molds to your body shape almost instantly, this is why I always recommend using a sleeping pad to provide insulation. In many parts of the world sand flies can be a real pain on an evening and cause itchy bites so some protective clothing or bug spray should always be a consideration. Always take plenty of water as resupplying on the beach is often not an option.

Do you need a groundsheet for sand camping?

You might be wondering whether you need a groundsheet to camp on sand. So long as your tent has an inner floor then a groundsheet isn’t totally necessary but it may help you to keep the sand outside your tent and away from your gear. Groundsheets offer an extra layer of protection between you and the sand which can help keep you warmer and dryer on a night.

10 Tips to camping on sand

Here are some of the tips we have learned and tried to cover in this guide to camping on sand:

  • Choose a tent that has a high basin floor to prevent sand from getting in.
  • Freestanding tents provide a stronger structure when pegs aren’t very effective.
  • Pitch your tent with your back to the wind so that sand doesn’t blow into your entrance when you have it open.
  • Keep your tent door shut and only open it when you need to get in or out.
  • Use anchors instead of pegs to secure your tent to the ground.
  • Keep your boots and gear in the porch area of your tent clean off any sand before you get in your tent.
  • Use wind blocks when cooking or preparing food to stop sand making your dinner all gritty.
  • Don’t underestimate how cold sand gets on a night and always take a sleeping mat.
  • Fresh drinking water is hard to come by in sandy locations so take more than you need to be on the safe side.
  • Be prepared for biting insects that live at the beach.


I hope this guide to camping on sand has given you some insight into what to expect and how to get the most out of your camping trip.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

Gear Assistant