I grew up backpacking in the mountains, especially the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. But, until last week, I’d never gone beach camping before. After spending a week of wild camping on the beach in Greece, I can now tell you that both types of camping are awesome. But there are some differences. Here ya go…
Beach Camping Pros and Cons
- More comfortable under the tent. It’s definitely better to sleep on sand than rocky mountain soil!
- Can hear waves. When they aren’t banging loudly against the beach, the sound of waves is really relaxing.
- Kids there to play with. If you’ve got kids, you’ll be happy that random families crash your camping spot on day excursions. That means some kids for your kid to play with.
- Easy to dig a latrine. Digging a poo pit in sand is easy.
- Sand = lots of entertainment. Kids can play in sand for hours without getting bored.
- Swimming!!!! No need to say more on this.
- Can walk everywhere barefoot. I only cut my foot open once or twice 😉
- No hiking boots required. You can even go on hikes barefoot, sparing you the heavy load on your feet.
- Sea view. Some people love this.
- Collecting shells and rocks. I actually was collecting more than my daughter…
- Sand everywhere!!!! Don’t even bother trying to keep it out of the tent.
- No privacy. Unless you go during the off season (which will mean no swimming), then you can expect a lot of other people to be at the beach.
- Trash everywhere. Even if you miraculously find a secluded beach which hasn’t been littered by day trippers, there will still be trash which washes up on shore from the sea.
- Feces everywhere: I luckily didn’t have this problem on my last beach camping trip, but I’ve heard complaints that people sh*t in the bushes on the beach and pee by all of the trees, so it can be a really gross issue.
- No fresh H20 source. This means you’ll have to carry all of your water with you, or be close to some store or other place to buy water. And buying water (in all those plastic bottles) sucks.
- Clothes get wet. It’s inevitable. And they get all crusty with salt water when you dry them.
- I’ve never had to use my insect repellent while camping in the mountains. It is too cold for lots of mosquitoes to live. But there are TONS of them near the beach.
- HEAT! If it is warm enough to swim, that means it is going to be friggin’ hot at the beach. My lips got sunburnt (who remembers to put sunblock on their lips?)
- Walking on the sand is tiresome. One step forward, half step sliding around.
- Hotels take up the best spots. Good luck even finding a secluded place for wild camping near a pretty beach! I talk about this in my post about how to find a wild beach camping spot.
Mountain Camping Pros and Cons
- Easy to find a secluded camping spot. There aren’t many hotels or tourist traps on mountaintops!
- Peace and quiet! With seclusion means you get complete peace and quiet.
- No need to slather tons of sunblock on you every time you leave the tent.
- Less/No trash. Mountain campers seem to be a lot more respectful about this than beach campers.
- Even if there are other campers nearby, you can still easily get privacy because of all of the trees.
- Wild edibles. My daughter and I often find wild berries to eat in the mountains. Though we did find an orange tree on the beach… just the oranges weren’t ripe yet.
- Wild animals. I love looking for mountain animals like birds, mink, salamanders…
- Not many mosquitoes. At least compared to the beach, there are a lot less mosquitoes to worry about.
- Fresh water sources. I always plan my mountain wild camping trips near some water source. Thanks to my camping water filter, I don’t have to worry about carrying H20 with me or buying it.
- Aerial view. You feel on top of the world looking down.
- It’s not hot. I’d rather be in the cool mountains in the summer than on a sweltering beach.
- Harder to get there. Be prepared to walk at least a mile or two with all your gear.
- Wild animals. The thought of bears, snakes, and wolves is enough to scare many people off of backpacking.
- Less company. If you are the type that enjoys company, you might get a bit lonely in the mountains where there are fewer fellow campers or day trippers.
- Digging a latrine is work. You’ll want a shovel for this, which means one more thing to carry.
- Harder terrain. All those tree roots and elevation makes hiking more difficult.
Which do I like better?
Bearing in mind that I’ve only gone wild beach camping once now (but wild camping in the mountains countless times), I like the mountains better. Yes, it is difficult to get to the camping spot – but I actually enjoy the challenge and it feels rewarding to reach your destination. Plus, anyone else you see has also done the same trip, so you immediately have a “backpacker’s bond.” It is a heck of a lot easier to find a wild camping spot in the mountains than on the beach. The seclusion and access to fresh water are also really important to me, so mountain camping wins.
But, as a mother of a preschooler, I can tell you that beach camping is also awesome. Isabel definitely was easier to entertain on the beach than in the woods. And I could let her wander further alone because the beach has wide-open views.
Sooo… my conclusion? Do both! 🙂