Beach camping essentials

Queensland beach camping tips

Salty air, sandy toes, and waking up to the sound of waves lapping the shore.

Beach camping can take you off the grid. It can even take you offshore. Getting out into the wild on Queensland’s best beaches offers a laid-back nature connection like no other.

But there’s a few beach camping tips you need to know before you go to make sure your adventure is as smooth as that coastal breeze you’ll soon enjoy.

Plan ahead

Moreton Island - Queensland beach camping tips

You can almost taste the freedom of pitching your tent on the sand, just steps from the ocean.

Look before you jump in: be prepared.

Research where you’re going to camp: Is there a potable water source? Can you light a fire? Is there vehicle access? Do you need a 4WD to get there? If so, here’s a few beach driving tips.

Get your permit: Many Queensland beach campsites require a permit through national parks, so make sure you get this before you go.

Check the facilities: Does your camp area have toilets or showers, or do you need to come prepared to get more up close and personal with the elements?

Know your seasons: some campsites are closed during cyclone season. The Department of National Parks website will give you maps, tips and any warnings that are relevant to your trip.

Test your gear

Always check your camping supplies before you leave home.

It can be months between camping trips and it’s never a bad idea to test that flashlight, check your camp stove has gas, air out the tent and make sure your waterproofing hasn’t worn out.

Check your tides

Whitehaven Beach - Queensland beach camping tips

Know the tides before you go. Willy Weather is a great resource.

Before you set up camp, check for the high tide mark and then assume it will come up another 10 metres. That way if you have the bad luck of being around for a king tide, you’ll still be dry.

If you have to beach drive to the campsite, make sure you time the drive within two hours of low tide for a stress-free arrival.

Leave no trace

Keep the beach as beautiful as you found it, and make sure the only footprints left are yours in the sand.

If your camping area has established camp sites, use them. Otherwise, set up camp on durable surfaces – not on vegetation or on top of sand dunes. Use existing trails and paths while exploring, rather than bush bashing.

Make sure you bring plenty of garbage bags. Pack out everything you bring in, including food scraps, rubbish, firestarters, toilet paper etc

If you’re bringing your dog to a pet-approved camp area, make sure you follow all the rules about where they can run off-leash, where they need to be tethered, and clean up all waste. Here are a few beach camping tips for dog owners!

Above all, respect the wildlife. Keep your distance, and resist the urge to share your camp snacks – even if they are cute.

Light your fire

Fraser Island camping

A campfire is a quintessential part of the experience. Actually, make that a campfire and a bag of marshmallows.

But it’s important to find out which campsites you can build a fire, and which don’t allow them at any time. Fire bans may also be in place, so it’s always best to check with National Parks online before you set off.

Know how to start a fire – but also how to put it out properly (hint: always use water, don’t just smother with dirt or sand).

Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans or mound fires.

Meal prep

Speaking of marshmallows…

While you might be a budding Nigella, it’s better to keep the menu simple when beach camping than commit yourself to a Pressure Test. This is burger and sausage sizzle territory.

Set up shelter

Camping Mission Beach

It’s not just the rain you have to prepare for while beach camping – but the wind.

Best way to stop the wind? Sand dunes.

On some beaches you may have the chance to use a sand dune as a natural windbreak. This is a great idea. However, dunes are fragile ecosystems so try not to disturb any vegetation and don’t dig any big holes. Save those for sandcastles on the beach.

Keep in mind that sometimes camping further off the beach is the better option to protect from the elements.

Become one with sand

Number one of all beach camping tips? Be prepared to be sandy until you get home.

Make life a little easier and bring a dustpan and brush to sweep out the tent, plus a mat to help shake the sand off your feet before you jump inside.

Follow the golden rule and leave your tent doors & windows zipped up throughout the day to minimise the amount of sand that blows in if the wind picks up.

Don’t have a dustpan and brush? Place a bucket of water near the opening of your tent to dip those sandy hooves in before you ruin your sleeping bag forever.

Pack your bags

Camping on Stradbroke Island

Beach camping is heaven on earth with the right prep and attitude. So double check this list, do your research and have fun.

Don’t forget your insect repellent, toilet paper, sunscreen and games. And if you prefer to sleep in longer than sunrise, bring an eye mask!