Beach/Coastal Camping?

12:41 a.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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My wife and I are going to St. Joseph's Peninsula sometime this summer/early fall.  It's a barrier island wildlife preserve--seven miles long with access limited to keep human impact to a minimum.  It's wild dunes with scrub, etc., Gulf on one side, bay on the other; no camping on the beach itself; carry everything in and out.  No freshwater.  We will be going for at least two nights, three if the heat and bugs don't drive us out.

Campsites are 2-6 miles from the trailhead.  We can hike, but we will probably rent a kayak, primarily because of the weight of extra water.

I plan to take a three season tent, stove and food, tarp, trekking poles (to guy out the tarp), two Thermarests,  light/mid-weight sleeping bag, sheet/light blanket, light clothing, camp stove and food, snorkel and fins and dive flag, fishing rod and small tackle box, and the following:

WATER -- I am planning on 2 gallons per day, plus two gallons extra ("just in case"), for a total of 8 gallons (approximately 65 lbs).

FIRST AID -- Standard fare, plus plenty of sunscreen, vinegar (for jellyfish),  handwarmer, extra benadryl, insect repellant and Thermacell.  Anything else particularly important to take?

Any other important things to consider or bring with us?

Any tips for setting up camp and enjoying the dunes and surf?

Any hazards we need to consider?

This environment is totally foreign to the mountains and forests I am used to, so any and all input is appreciated.

10:50 a.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Especially if you are kayaking, which I think she would enjoy far more than schlepping everything, get a box of wine but ditch the box and just take the plastic dispenser of the nectar :) 

Also, get one or two sets of these battery powered LED twinkle lights to string up in camp or in the tent. It will make camp very cozy and romantic, and she'll LOVE it. (the ones above are warm white, which will make a cozier glow than cool white) 

You might also think of getting one or two Thermarest Trekker Chairs, which use the Prolite pads you already own as the body and cushioning. 

3:00 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Beware of fine sand blowing though the mesh of your 3 season tent. Not much you can do I suppose....beaches are just sandy places and it will pervade everything eventually. But keep your extra clothes bagged up and sand free. I hate donning sandy garments in hot weather.

5:07 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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You may be needing different stakes/sand anchors for your tent if everything is sand...

5:07 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey RidgeRunner,

I camp in coastal areas quite a bit, sometimes I have to carry water in - but most times I stay near a fresh water lake or reservoir with sandy beaches. Sometimes I hike the whole distance, and sometimes I take a boat partway.

I find that I can easily use two gallons of water per day just by myself cooking, drinking, or washing up. If I can wash up using local water I can barely get by with one gallon, I don't feel like I get enough to drink that way though.

In hot weather I wear lightweight, very quick drying clothes - getting stuck with wet sandy clothes and no dry ones is terrible. I like to have at least one set of clothes with long sleeves and pant legs for protection from the sun and bugs when needed. As Patman says, I keep my extra clothes in a dry bag to insure they stay dry and clean until needed.

When it gets hot I like a hat or bandanna I can wet down and cool my head off with.

Because of the level of insects present in these types of areas I treat (spray) all my clothes & my tent with a Permethrin Insect Repellent like Sawyer .  This cuts way down on insects including ticks & chiggers around me or my tent. You can't spray this on your skin, only clothing (while your not wearing) and gear.

For exposed skin I like to use a controlled release DEET, my favorite is Ultrathon made by 3M. Sawyer also makes one that works quite well too.

Using this system I rarely have any bites at all and haven't found a tick on me all summer.

Speaking just for myself I find that Citronella, Skin so Soft, or other herbal insect repellents, as well as the bracelets, etc. don't put a dent in the bug problem in these environments and I can't stand getting eaten alive and pretending like I'm having a good time in spite of it.

If I camp in an area with lots of loose dry sand that is maybe getting blown around some I  pitch my tent with the door facing downwind and find a place to cook / sit / downwind of the tent.

These days many double wall three season tents (like mine) have a lot of mesh on the inner tent which is great for ventilation in an area like you are going to. If you can pitch the rain fly tight against the ground on at least the windy sides this helps to keep sand out of the tent. Sometimes I will use leaves or downed branches to help fill any gaps.

When it gets really hot I love to go for a swim and sit on the beach in a nice breeze, but if there are a lot of alligators (fresh water) sometimes I just wet myself down at the edge of the water and enjoy the breeze anyway.

I hope you guys have a great time!

Mike G.

6:45 a.m. on August 15, 2012 (EDT)
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You seem to have most of what you need. I dont know if that is enough water. How hot and humid will it be? I would also get a couple of head nets for the bugs, I dont like to put deet on my face. It kinda burns/tingles my face when I start to sweat. Why not bring a fishing pole? You can usually find small crabs or something for bait. It would be fun activity and maybe a fresh dinner. I agree about the citronell not working as a repellant but the candles do work well, if there isnt much wind. I use one to smoke out my tent instead of spraying my tent with chemicals.

1:21 p.m. on August 15, 2012 (EDT)
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You may not need trekking poles for setting up the tent and any tarps. Break apart paddles will do the same. You'll need some anchors for guy lines. If there is any driftwood you can use that as a dead man. Camping in sand is always an issue. Camp on the lee side, in areas that are well protected from the prevailing winds.

2:55 a.m. on August 19, 2012 (EDT)
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The biting black flies can be a problem in summer on the barrier islands.  A related thread here on Trailspace about that bug:

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-planning/topics/111218.html

Also, invest well in your portable SHADE and dark (snow-glare) glasses--sun will seem merciless at times.  Shuffle your feet when you walk in the shallows to run off the rays.  And plan for a time when the moon comes up full over the water--that October, harvest moon is fabulous!

11:56 a.m. on September 7, 2012 (EDT)
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I camp every year at a place that sounds a lot like this one in southern Georgia. Bring sunscreen and be sure to do checks for ticks each day. They love that type of environment.  I'd also bring a bathing suit so you can play in the waves! have fun! 

September 3, 2014
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