Camping is something that holds a bit of nostalgia for me as it’s the one thing that my family did growing up at least once a year. As someone naturally curious about exploration and the outdoors, I looked forward to the summer lake nights under the stars, sitting next to the campfire with my brothers and parents. As I got older, my interest in camping continued and the locations to pitch my tent expanded. I can pull a trip together last minute and soon be disconnected from the day-to-day and reconnected with myself through nature. It’s quiet, peaceful and heals me from all the stresses of daily life. The limitation of having only what I can carry forces me to instantly unbusy myself and become part of a place. Disconnecting from cell service and technology is the best recharge, whether it’s methodically planned out or happens on a whim.
This summer, I took a few months to myself to venture out on a cross-country road trip, spending time exploring new areas across the states, emerging into nature and setting up my tent to be alone and engage with my surroundings. One of my top picks was right outside of Malibu at Point Mugu State Beach. It was so nice that I camped it twice.
Beach tent camping is a completely different experience from lake, woods or even mountain tent camping. It’s something that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. Spending time in the sand, listening to the waves crash against the shore, watching the sunset and breathing in the fresh ocean air will cleanse your soul and stick as an ever-lasting memory. Here are tips on planning a Malibu Beach tent camping trip and a pack list of things not to forget.
Take the Pacific Coast Highway, tune into your favorite playlist and enjoy the slow, scenic drive to the Point Mugu State Beach entrance. Located at coordinates 34.083215, -119.036898, this is a paid campsite that’s first come, first served for $27 per night with the ability to drive up for easy access. Each site comes with a fire pit and picnic table with drinkable water, garbage dumpsters and porta-potties nearby. There’s no day use at this location, so you’ll be setting up next to fellow campers and enjoying the views with less of a crowd than other beach camping locations up the road. It’s a must to arrive at least by early afternoon, so you can enjoy some rays, splash in the ocean, set up your campsite, head over to the camp ground director’s trailer to grab some firewood ($7/bundle) and leisurely watch the sun kiss the ocean.
After an epic sunset, pile on some extra layers to stay warm, get the fire started, throw on some grub and gather around while the wood glows red. Once your firewood pile depletes, you’ll be ready to tuck away into your tent or even crash right there on the sand with your blanket and sleeping bag (I did both) for one of the best night’s sleeps you’ll ever have. The chilly salty air and rhythm of the ocean will send you into a well-deserved, peaceful slumber.
If your internal clock is a bit off, make sure you set an alarm so you can catch a misty, breathtaking sunrise that will confirm why this is one of the best beach camping spots you will ever experience. Have a little breakfast, put on your hiking shoes, bug spray and sunblock, fill your pack with water and snacks and head across the street to the Ray Miller Trailhead for an easy elevated morning hike before the sun rises too high and the heat of the day sets in. Trail hikes range from just under three miles to nearly six. It’s a steady upward climb along a desert path that quickly heats as the sun rises higher, so make sure you bring plenty of water.
No matter how much you love or hate hiking, the view from the top is worth the time invested. Head back across the highway and take a plunge into the ocean to cool off post hike. Spend the morning either chilling out and relaxing at your site or pack up and head down the road toward Malibu where you can park for free on the highway and spend the afternoon at the beach watching local surfers catch waves, or join in for some salt water therapy of your own.
This day or weekend escape will be worth every minute invested.