Where to camp on expeditions

I keep reading and hearing about these long distance kayak trips, such as the trips where people circumnavigate large Islands, like New Zealand, Japan, Victoria Island, etc. Living in California, it seems that there are severe limitations on where people can land and camp.

Is that a California issue, or are there limitations in all these other areas? And if limitations, how do people get around them? Do they just go on the premise that they will ask for forgiveness rather than asking for permission?

Regarding California,
if one has the open coast skills there are 3 large areas where one can land and camp. The Lost Coast, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Central Coast (mainly Big Sur).

The Lost Coast and Point Reyes have designated camp spots, however, they are both long areas of isolated coast line, and if one were forced to land on a deserted beach and camp overnight – I think it would be ok. (As long as the tide dosen’t come in and wash you away!)

Big Sur is more wild and inaccessable, but there are beaches where people do manage to land on

and camp.

You probably know all this info already – I’m just putting out there for other adventurous souls.

I know these areas of coast
have a lot of cliff face too – making landing and camping impossible. But there some spots …

Point Reyes is limited

– Last Updated: Jan-13-07 1:53 PM EST –

Thanks for the response.

Just a clarification on Point Reyes - legally, you can only camp in Point Reyes on a few beaches in Tomales Bay - nothing on the ocean side. Permit (which you have to pick up at the visitor's center - which isn't near the water) is supposed to be required. This would be somewhat limiting if you tried to follow the rules on an expedition.

Coast Camp and Wildcat Camp are hike / horse in camps on the ocean side. Kayakers can reserve space at these camps too – though one has to walk up from the beach a little ways to get to both.

– Unless the park has changed things in the last few years.

Learn to stealth camp
Or don’t camp at all. It is usually OK to stop and take a nap on the beach anywhere. So learn to sleap 3 hours at a time and move on. I bet if you try it you can find all sorts of places to hide your boat and take a nap.

say what???
now that’s some bizarre camping advice…

each bit of geography is unique. Van Island, has plenty of wilderness camping, pocket beaches, etc, and designated camping spots in other areas. however there are some stretches where there are very few landing spots, let alone camping spots. i’m sure it is much the same elsewhere…

No place to land?
Are their really places you paddle where there is no place to land for 20 miles?

It is a West Coast thing
When I was in Japan, I could camp wherever I landed

West Coast thing
a private-property-gone-amuk thing

seems like on some of the 'expeditions’
for example the one around japan, often they landed in cities and ‘camped’ in peoples homes, city parks, etc.

i bet that was not the case for s.Georgia island!

and there is always stealth camping…some people have backyards so big they never knew i hung my hammock up in their forest :slight_smile:

Welcome to Connecticut…
Where landing most places can get you a lot more trouble than you want. The law says below the high tide line is public property, but the cops enforce it to the low tide line. The law also says that shoreline landowners have to provide a public right-of-way to the water, but I’ve never seen that enforced. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Hell, even paddling near the shore in Greenwich or the Thimble Islands can get you harassed by the cops or hostile landowners with $$$$$.

Most of us that paddle here know all the safe places to land, and they are getting fewer every year. Fortunately, there still are enough for the number of paddlers we have in the salt water, but that could change.

a lot of places are remote…like the ones you mentioned, so anywhere you can beach the boat and pitch a tent.

on any of my long trips ive taken, which some involved being in highly populated areas, i was always amazed at finding a place. It seems that some of the major cities that i happen to be paddling tru- NOBODY uses the rivers, they are all driving on the roads…so the water is in fact very quiet come evening…errie.sometimes. Ive camped at the end of major airport runways (because its where i ended up for the night…not a choice)…no body around!!! When I typically expedition paddle i try to put in a long day and paddle an hour before i cant see anymore…so just as the sun hits the horizon, i pick a spot…ANY SPOT! wherever i am at when the sun hits the horizon…this allows me enough light to pitch a tent, cook dinner, clean up mess and get in the tent and not have to get out my headlamp. So once its dark your even safer from people, and I am usually up again by the time it starts to get light. Sometimes I have what is refered to as “stealth” camps, where I have to be quiet, sneek in and out since its NOT the proper place or ideal and USUALLY ILLEGAL in some instances. Again, i dont choose these places…I paddle till dark and then pick the spot. I dont spend all my energy looking for the perfect camp for two hours when i can be enjoying paddling, afterall, im not going to “live” there but only sleep for the night.

These Stealth camps have provided some very interesting journal topics and some have scared the shi# out of me…Ones that come to mind…Within the compounds of a Nuclear Power Plant, a Federal Prison, witness to a satanic ritual, gun toten red necks, a nudist camp, bible camps, parties of the century with all the free steak and crab and wine and beer, within sites of the state capitol dome…no trees and I had to poop! (these are all one time deals…far from the hundreds of nights ive spent with the coyotes, stars, and crickets and silence

Oh the joys of paddling.


So what was the problem
with the nudist site?? :smiley:

Kidding aside, all of the naturists I know are real nice people. They get hasseled a lot so tend not to hassle others.

why don’t they enforce the laws
on the books?

You would be in heaven in the Bay Area
Here in the S.F. Bay Area there are so many nooks and cranies to sleep in. One time i slept in a W.W.II. bunker over looking the Bay – because I didn’t feel like hiking back home. Plus there are a lot of homeless people “camping out”, so you might just blend in. Except for that $3,000.00 dollar kayak near by.

Cdn laws, US laws
not sure about each State, but in BC, landowners only own up to the HHW mark, so you can land on a lot of beaches. futhermore in my experience, Islanders are pretty easy going about kayakers in most places. having said that, i have been told that in some of the Gulf Islands (Saturna in particular), there is a different culture towards kayakers and almost no public land.

in Washington it is a different story, very little public landings, and lots of KEEP OUT signs. looks awful and lends a menacing aire to kayaking in some spots. a local kayak guru was paddling with a group in the San Juans and was accosted by a guy with a shot gun on a beach. he now refuses to paddle there and talks negatively about the San Juans, which is a shame as i’m sure it was an isolated incident- however terrifying.

catalina island-
paddle over or head over by ferry and rent boats

A horror story that turned out okay…
Camping in unknown areas, especially if they are remote, is nothing to be taken lightly. Last year, in a rarely explored region of Patagonia, Chile, a group was crossing the Andes via river and unknowingly entered a tidal zone. In that region the tides are huge an flow inland for many miles. What could have been a disaster turned out for the best but is a good cautionary tale…

“We awoke to a beautiful warm, dry morning and the best weather of the trip, light breeze and missing boats. Holy shit, no kayaks!”


This is the trip, click the trip report button for the story…

Money talks
and paddlers, well, we stay away.

We have enough problems with a bunch of wealthy shoreline landowners trying to force registration on us so that they can call in our reg numbers to the cops & have us harassed. We don’t need to call the police on their misrepresentation of the law & face more calls for registration in return.

As I said, the paddlers in the know have good places to land most of the time…they might be a good distance apart, but they’re there.