There are beaches all over the US that will allow you to drive your vehicle through the sand to set up shop for the day. Of course, the rules for doing this are different than just laying down a towel and pitching a tent so make sure you double check the regulations.
Trekking through the sand is much different than driving along a highway, but we’ve got you covered. Adhere to the following 5 beach-driving tips in order to safely navigate your way through the sand. Just make sure your 4-wheel drive vehicle is ready to go. Beach-driving isn’t recommended without one.
Don’t Over Pack
Since the terrain of the beach consists solely of soft sand—for the most part—you’ll want to make sure you don’t pack the kitchen sink. Only bring the necessities and even then, the necessary necessities—this does not include your big screen TV.
Driving through the sand with a heavy vehicle will cause it to sink further into the sand. This will most certainly leave you stuck and you’ll spend most of your time digging instead of relaxing. Most beaches that allow driving on its shores will require visitors to repair any divots before leaving. Remember this motto: “Keep it light and you’ll be alright.”
Let the Air Out a Little
After—and this timing is key—you arrive at the beach, deflate your tire pressure in order to gain more traction along the sand. This will better mimic the experience of driving on the road. Not only will it give you better traction, but you’ll feel more in control of the vehicle as well. It’s recommended to maintain a psi of 15-20 while cruising along the beach.
Perform a Pre-Beach Tide Check
Before you park it, check your local newspaper or NOAA.gov for the latest tide times. The last thing you’ll want to do is settle in only to get washed out to sea soon after.
The most ideal time to drive on the beach is within approximately two hours of low tide. This will allow you to maximize the amount of beach you can drive on while avoiding the quick tide encroaching on your activities.
Keep Close to the Shore
Keeping tip #3 in mind, try to drive along the sand that is closest to the water. You’ll find this sand to be more compact and easier to drive on. Beach-driving is all about maintaining control of your vehicle at all times. The path between the water and high tide provides the most consistent driving conditions. It’s also helpful to follow in the tracks of other vehicles.
Move Slow and be Easy on the Brakes
Although some beaches may have a posted speed limit sign, most won’t. Regardless, it’s always a given to drive at slower speeds. You’ll want to cap your vehicle’s speed at no more than 25 mph. But more than likely, you won’t even need to go that fast.
It’s also important to avoid slamming on the brakes. Driving on sand is similar in some ways to driving on ice. The terrain under your tires is not very stable and can easily shift. If you know that you are stopping, let off the gas and coast slowly to a crawl allowing the vehicle to stop naturally.
Driving along the beach is a relaxing and enjoyable privilege. There isn’t any need to speed through the sand so take it nice and slow in order to keep everyone safe. At the end of your trip, don’t forget to give your car a thorough bath. Salty air and water, along with sand can cause your car to rust.