South Florida is a beautiful part of the country, and you may want to explore the best it offers by tent camping. However, you need to know the best way to go about tent camping in this unique area, including what to pack and how to handle your campsite.
When camping in South Florida, being mindful of your fires is crucial. Pack extra bottled water, towels, bug spray, or a mosquito net. You’ll want a sleeping pad and a light sleeping bag for most of the year. Keep food items out of the reach of wildlife with bear bags. Get a permit if needed.
Here is what you need to know for more information on how you can best plan a great South Florida tent camping trip.
How to Tent Camp in South Florida?
South Florida is a great place to pitch your tent for a weekend trip to the coast. There are many beachfront camping spots, but that isn’t the only place to go camping.
Regardless of the scenery at your campground, here are a few things you must remember for a great tent camping experience.
1. Be Mindful of Fires
Unfortunately, fires are an all-too-common occurrence on the peninsula of South Florida. To this end, you must be extra careful when cooking your meals and staying warm.
For the most part, it’s recommended that you only start a fire in areas where a ring is available. This keeps the fire under control and prevents it from spreading.
Never start a fire near dry grass or branches that might overhang your campsite. It should also be far from your tent, vehicle, and other items that can quickly catch fire.
Make sure you have some water or sand to keep the fire under control, just in case something gets out of hand.
Alternatively, you may want to pack a convenient camp stove if you aren’t sure what the fire ring situation will look like.
Read my article on the best stoves for camping to find some quality suggestions.
2. Prepare for Bears
Did you know that bears are found in South Florida? Many campers forget about the wildlife they may encounter when heading out for tent camping.
This could be dangerous to forget, so make sure you come prepared. Food should be stored in your vehicle or a bear bag.
At the very minimum, you need a bear canister to store away smelly foods that could attract the unwanted attention of these large animals.
You’ll find some useful tips in my article on what attracts bears and ways to keep them away.
You may want to invest in several bear bags, especially if you know that you’ll be camping with a large party.
3. Allow Your Tent to Dry
Many campers think of Florida when they imagine beautiful weather and sandy beaches. They don’t consider what the humidity levels can do to your tent and gear.
It’s common to find that water droplets form inside your tent (or the outside if using a double-walled tent).
To this end, you might want to let your tent dry out in the sunshine or bring along a towel that you can use to wipe off the condensation that forms due to the high humidity.
That being said, there’s a great likelihood of getting even wetter while camping in South Florida. It often rains here during the wet season from May to November.
Make sure you have a raincoat or prepare to get wet. This is also a good time to ensure that the waterproofing on your tent is in good shape.
4. Pack a Mosquito Net
Is there anything worse than waking up in the morning in your tent to find that you have little welts all over you?
These itchy mosquito bites are quite common in the warm and wet season in South Florida, so you’ll want to be prepared with a mosquito net to sleep under.
You must pack plenty of bug spray when not in your tent. Use it liberally to keep those pesky bug bites at bay and avoid some diseases that mosquitoes can carry. It’s usually best to pack bug spray with citronella.
5. Pack Extra Water
The high heat of the South Florida summer may leave you feeling more thirsty than usual.
If you intend to camp during these harsher conditions, you need to pack plenty of water – even more than you think you might need.
If you aren’t sure about your campground’s water source, pack bottled water or a water purifier.
Some South Florida campsites will have running water that you can use to refill your water bottle but don’t assume that all sites have this luxury.
6. Get a Permit
If you want to camp in South Florida, you can’t just pitch your tent anywhere you want. Be sure to book a reservation at a designated campground or check to see if a permit is required.
This is especially true if you’re trying to arrange a beach camping trip directly on the sand. Not all South Florida beaches permit this, so avoid fines and penalties by checking with local requirements.
7. Pack a Sleeping Pad
Just because the weather is hot and steamy in South Florida doesn’t mean you can ignore a sleeping pad. Your body heat will quickly transfer from your sleeping bag to the cold sand beneath you.
Keep in mind that temperatures often drop at night, especially during the winter months. A closed-cell foam sleeping pad is a must-have.
However, you may want one with more padding to make sleeping more comfortable. Even soft sand can be uncomfortable after a long night of tossing and turning, so consider a self-inflating pad.
Find the best sleeping pad suggestions in my article!
8. Get a Lightweight Sleeping Bag
However, you won’t want to overpack for your camping trip when it comes to warmth.
Most campers find that they’re comfortable with a light sleeping bag that allows for some circulation of air during the summer months.
Bring a few extra light blankets to layer during the winter, which is still warm compared to other parts of the country.
Here are my recommendations for the best sleeping bags for camping!
9. Leave No Trace
Like most places that you’ll go camping, you need to make sure that you leave the campsite exactly how you found it (or better!).
Don’t leave trash or food in your area, even if you’ll only be gone for a few hours. This can attract wildlife which can be harmed by consuming your trash.
It can also blow around to other campsites, littering the area with garbage. Make sure you come prepared with trash bags and containers to store your garbage.
A bear bag is a great option to keep it up and away from other animals who might be attracted.
Camping in South Florida can be a really fun experience, but it requires some planning to get the most out of your trip.
From practical accommodations like packing a mosquito net to starting a fire, these tips will help you camp like a professional, even if you’ve never been camping in South Florida.
What do you need to do to prepare for your next trip?