A night spent under the stars is always special, but being able to hear the sound of the waves from your tent takes it into a different dimension. The majority of beaches around the world don’t let you camp on them or stay overnight at all, but there are still plenty of places where you can pitch a tent on the sand or on a cliff top and cosy down for the night, it’s just a matter of knowing where to find them. It wasn’t easy to choose, but we’ve put together our pick of the world’s top 5 places where you can camp on or just next to the beach to get your imagination flowing and inspire you to plan your next adventure.
1. Big Sur, California
Big Sur boasts the USA’s longest stretch of undeveloped coastline and is where the dramatic Santa Lucia mountains meet the Pacific Ocean. There are plenty of campsites throughout Big Sur, and many of them are right on the coast, although mostly perched on cliff tops rather than on the rugged beaches. From these oceanview pitches, you can hike to many of the area’s beaches, which you’re likely to have to yourself, especially in low season, although you might have to share them with some of the area’s incredible wildlife, like the sea otters that play around in the kelp beds. Then hike up to the ridges for panoramic views of the coastline whilst condors soar over your head.
2. Isle of Arran, Scotland
This dramatic island off the coast of Scotland is a wildlife haven and is the perfect place to escape from the rat race. Whilst you can’t camp on the beaches themselves there are plenty of campsites which edge right onto the wild beaches, so you’re more than likely to have a sea view from the doors of your tent. The many rockpools on the island’s beaches are full of marine life, and otters, gannets, porpoises, grey seals and even basking sharks all pay regular visits. You won’t be short for things to do whilst here, with beach walks, horse rides, cycling and hiking routes everywhere you turn.
3. Isla Culebra, Puerto Rico
A little warmer than the windswept beaches of Scotland is this splash of tropical paradise in Puerto Rico. You can pitch your tent on the campground on Flamenco Beach, named the world’s second most beautiful beach by the Discovery Channel. This stretch of white sand goes on for miles. Waking up in the morning and stepping out of your tent onto the golden sand and going for a swim in the crystal clear, Caribbean waters before the day trippers turn up is an incredible feeling. There is amazing snorkelling off Flamenco beach, or you can just spend your days sipping at a coconut or a pina colada.
4. Sardinia, Italy
Sardinia has over 40 campsites and you will be surrounded by beaches like these! Images: Pixabay
There are 42 campsites to choose from on the island of Sardinia, many of which allow you to pitch your tent on the beach itself. This beautiful island in the Meditteranean, actually closer to Africa than to Italy, is noticeably different from the Italian mainland and has a fascinating history to explore. This island is famous for its cheese, which you can sample if you manage to drag yourself away from the idyllic beaches and get to know the local towns.
5. 3 Mile Camp, Gnaraloo Station, Western Australia
A world away from some of the other options on this list, Gnaraloo station is 300km north of the town of Carnarvon, at the bottom tip of the Ningaloo Reef, essentially a mirror image of the Great Barrier Reef on the other side of this island-continent. With 65 unpowered campsites on the sand dunes and basic facilities, including a shop stocked with essentials, this is really getting back to nature. The lagoon just in front of the campsite is perfect for snorkelling, but there is also a legendary surf break here that attracts thrill-seekers from all over the world. Lie down on the beach at night and stare in awe at the spectacular of the milky way.
These are a few of our favourite beachside camping spots around the world. There are hidden gems everywhere, so grab your tent, go exploring and find your own special places to get back to nature and be lulled to sleep by the crashing of the waves.