There’s nothing more relaxing than being out on the water, surrounded by nature. It can also be exciting if you want to take it a step further and spend a night. Whether heading for the ocean, river, or lake, you must ensure you’re prepared for anything. This ultimate guide to boat camping will help make your experience unforgettable.
What is boat camping?
Boat camping could be the answer if you enjoy camping but are looking for a new way to explore the outdoors. Boat camping is exactly what it sounds like: outdoor camping with the bonus of being on the water. All the beautiful aspects of traditional camping can be enjoyed, but with a more exciting twist.
Boat camping is an experience you’ll never forget. Whether you anchor your cabin cruiser in a secluded cove and set up a tent on the deck, beach your bowrider and set up camp by the water’s edge, or fit out your kayak so it includes an easy-to-assemble cover you can sleep peacefully underneath. Plenty of options depending on your vessel, and you’ll get to see views and landscapes you won’t see on land. You’re also guaranteed to have exciting stories to tell your family and friends for years.
Types of boats for boat camping
You can use any boat to transport camping equipment or serve as a bed for the night. A sea or touring kayak may be the better option for paddling on open water, whereas a canoe or flat-bottomed kayak is the best choice for rivers, creeks, and lakes. They’re also ideal if you travel with just one or two other people.
If you have a larger group, consider renting a pontoon boat with plenty of space for people to camp out at the stern, bow, and across the deck. Pack your tinnie and camping gear and head to a nearby island or inlet to find a great overnight spot. These boats are also helpful for navigating rougher waters.
Finally, sailboats and yachts offer the ultimate camping experience, although it is more akin to glamping on water. They frequently include air conditioning, a television, a microwave, a shower, and a toilet. They’re also a great option if you want to spend more than one night on your boat camping trip.
How to prepare your boat for camping
Camping on any boat can be a relaxing and invigorating experience, but you must take extra steps before setting sail to ensure it goes off without a hitch. First, give your vessel a thorough check-up; not only should all of the mechanics be in working order, but use this as a chance to inspect all safety items and see that they are up to date. Speaking of safety items, you must have a life jacket, a whistle or horn, flares, and a first-aid kit. Better safe than sorry.
Marine navigation is critical when people go boat camping because it helps them safely and accurately navigate through waterways and avoid potential hazards, ensuring that they reach their destination and return home without incident.
Remember to pack your boat technology. This could include a GPS tracker and navigation system, a fish finder if you plan a fishing trip, and solar and sonar radars.
Finally, ensure you know the local rules and regulations for the area where you plan boating to avoid any surprises or conflicts during your campout on the water.
What to pack
Start with sensible outdoor clothing and layers in case of inclement weather. Have at least one waterproof jacket and rain pants on hand in case of an unexpected downpour, and don’t forget your water-resistant boots or sandals — they’ll come in handy when docking or venturing onto land.
Next, pack any supplies, such as sunscreen and insect repellent, cooking dishes and utensils, anchors and other boating supplies, fishing gear, and any games you might want to keep you entertained.
Don’t forget the food and drinks either. Pack enough supplies for everyone onboard, and remember to include snacks and plenty of fresh water.
The best places to go boat camping
The Florida Keys are a popular destination for boat camping, offering crystal-clear waters, diverse marine life, and endless opportunities for snorkeling, fishing, and other water-based activities.
Lake Powell in Arizona is a picturesque spot for boat camping, surrounded by towering red cliffs and boasting nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline to explore.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota is a remote and rugged area perfect for those seeking a more adventurous boat camping experience. With over 1 million acres of pristine wilderness to explore, visitors can paddle through interconnected lakes and rivers, catch fresh fish for dinner, and soak in the region’s natural beauty.
Lake Michigan is another great option for boat camping, with various campgrounds dotting the shoreline in states like Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The scenery is as diverse as the activities, from sandy beaches to rocky bluffs.
The San Juan Islands in Washington State offer a unique and stunning backdrop for boat camping, with emerald green waters, rocky shorelines, and lush forests to explore. Visitors can anchor in secluded coves, hike through old-growth forests, or spot whales and other wildlife in their natural habitats.
Right before you head off, make sure you check the weather and wind conditions. These change quickly, so you must watch these as close to departure as possible. Accidents on the water can be more severe than your typical car accident. Purchasing boat insurance and AD&D insurance will add an extra layer of security.
Camping on a boat can be done anywhere, provided you have water and an anchor (or a beach you can pull the boat or kayak onto). Choose places that aren’t accessible by car to enjoy a more genuine camping experience, and if you prefer to set up a tent on dry land, find local beaches or islands that are easily accessible in your type of vessel.
You can explore your local National Parks. However, just be sure you can camp there before you take off. Most parks have designated areas or campsites for campers to use. Slips, fresh water, electricity, and pump-out services are often readily available in National Parks.
Campgrounds located on or near bodies of water like rivers and streams may also be great places to stay, or if you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path adventure, do your research before you go. That way, you can ensure there are safe camping spots available.
Clinton Mora is a reporter for Trending Insurance News. He has previously worked for the Forbes. As a contributor to Trending Insurance News, Clinton covers emerging a wide range of property and casualty insurance related stories.