Boat Camping: 5 Steps For Safe, Exciting Overnight Boat Trips


It’s camping time!

But not just any camping, today we’re talking about boat camping!

That’s right, sleeping under the stars, breathing fresh ocean air, letting the waves gently rock you to sleep.

That’s living the life right there, right?

Well, we’ve brought on our friends at Charter Fishing Destin to help us share with you five tips for an awesome boat camping trip.

A night, or even a few nights out on the water sounds like a dream, but if you’re not careful, it could quickly turn into a nightmare, so be sure to take note of these safety tips and let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!

5 Steps For Safe, Exciting Overnight Boat Trips

by Patrick Rice, Charter Fishing Destin

overnight boat camping

What could be better than spending a day on a boat, soaking in the sun, riding the waves, lazing around on a lake or fishing to your heart’s content?

Spending the whole night aboard as well!

Boat camping, commonly referred to as “hanging on the hook”, is an experience anyone with a boat and sense of adventure should look into.

While it may seem easier than traditional camping on land to just throw down the anchor and fall asleep under the stars, there is quite a bit of planning required before diving into a night of boat camping.

Depending on the size and included amenities of your boat there could be more to the planning required.

From bathroom breaks to drinking water to safety, there is more that goes into a boat camping adventure than you might first think.

These five tips will ensure that your trip goes smoothly.

1: Planning Your Route

how to plan for boat camping trip

The most important step to any boat camping trip is research.

This research includes where you plan to boat, where you might make stops, and what is allowed in these places.

Many locations will have rules and regulations on where you can moor your boat overnight.

You may need to plan on docking at a boat-in campsite or ensure you have the proper space and permission to drop anchor.

If your boat does not have bathroom amenities you may want to look into places nearby you can dock for restroom breaks.

If you are planning on docking at a boat-in campsite for the night you can use the restrooms there, but if not then find out the policies of using nearby state parks or beaches restrooms at night.

2: Safety Precautions

boat camping safety

Once you have the plans of where to go, figure out if there are specific safety regulations you must follow for these places.

Most boats will require anchor lights when mooring overnight and boats must be 200 feet from shore.

Life vests and other safety equipment should be in line with the laws in whichever state you wish to camp.

Be sure to check for cell service in case you need to bring other forms of communication along.

Depending on the length of your stay you may need to inform someone of where you will be going and when you will be back if no communication is available once out on the water.

You may also need to continuously check the weather report to stay away from thunderstorms or other dangerous areas.

Be aware of the place you are sleeping and keep in mind the places that have strong currents or anything that might damage your boat when out at night.

3: Packing

sleeping on a boat

When out on the water there are likely no shops to stop at if you forget your toothbrush.

Ensure that you have everything you need, and most importantly that you have food and water.

Sort out where you can store stuff on your boat and where you might have extra storage.

You may want to bring a cooler or large sleeping bag or bed.

Keep in mind what space you have and what space will be taken when sleeping.

Pack more than enough water or invest in a device that will allow you to drink the saltwater.

Food can take up a lot of space so its best to think like a backpacker.

Dried foods and cans you can heat up with a portable stove are ideal on a smaller boat.

Snacks and bigger meals can be packed as well if you plan on a short trip or have extra space in your boat.

If docking at a boat-in campsite make sure you can have a fire if you wish to cook anything by campfire.

You may also want to bring beach chairs to sit on at the campsite or other site-specific gear.

Do not forget about:

  • flashlights
  • first aid kits
  • sunscreen
  • or any other safety equipment for your specific trip

dangers of sunscreen

Many places have bathrooms, but if they are not provided you may need to bring your own supplies for restroom trips in the woods.

Keep in mind that many places require you to bring plastic bags in order to not leave waste.

If no running toilets are a concern, you can purchase a portable toilet to bring with you as well.

When packing clothes keep in mind that it may get cold once the sun goes down.

Bring hats to protect you from the sun during the day, and warm clothes to keep you nice and cozy at night.

A rain jacket and protection from the elements is also something to keep in mind.

4: Setting Sail!setting sail for boat camping

And finally the fun part – setting sail.

Where and how you will sleep might be the most important component of any boat camping trip.

If you have never slept on the water before, consider spending the first night docked so you can get a feel for it.

If you are wanting to sleep on your boat you will also need some form of bed.

Bedding could be anything from boat cushions to sleeping bags to an inflatable mattress.

The form of bed you take will depend on the amount of space you have on your boat.

If you want the comfort of a bed you can even get custom boat mattresses and covers.

An inflatable mattress paired with a warm sleeping bag can make a great bed under the stars if your deck accommodates it.

If you want more protection from the outdoors, a small backpacking tent may even fit on your vessel.

Whatever you decide, sleeping on the rocking waters and under the night sky with no light pollution to muddy the stars is an amazing experience.

5: Privacy Check!

privacy for boat camping

If you are planning on going with multiple people make sure to look into privacy measures.

Pop up privacy changing rooms can serve as a place to get ready or use a portable toilet and don’t take up too much space.

With all the planning and packing done you can enjoy the waters and nature as much as you wish.

Final Thoughts On Boat Camping

boat camping tips

Boat camping is an amazing experience.

Whether you dock at a campsite or in the open waters, it will be an adventure you will never forget.

Being prepared ensures that you will have the best time you can and won’t ruin your trip with having to leave early to get more supplies (or worse).

If you are planning your first boat camping trip or have been hanging on the hook before, these tips are an essential part of the process.

The best tip to remember, however, is to have fun.


Huge thanks to Patrick from Charter Fishing Destin for these tips on having a fun and safe boat camping trip.

If you live in or are visiting Destin, you can book a charter with them at

Have any questions about boat camping?

Let us know in the comments below!

And don’t forget to TAG or SHARE this with your future boat camping buddy!

P.S. Want the best fishing spots, discounts on fishing gear, and tips on what and where the fish are biting now? Join us in the Insider Club!

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Steven Free
4 years ago

Ha usually if I go fishing at night I am planning on staying overnight as well because I want to be on the water before everyone else is so as I can get to my best areas and spots first before the crowds do although I don’t have a big boat like the cabin cruisers shown in this article no anchor just use my stick it pin no bed just my seat cushion that I move forward to lay on and prop my feet up on my soft sided cooler set an alarm on my phone and go to sleep i usually do this if the tide at night is outgoing and the tide is dead low and by a little before daylight the tide is high enough to start fishing again so before this I eat a little something and then begin fishing until it is to hot anymore usually around 10ish then I head to the ramp and go home I have been doing this for several years now and still surprised at how many people would rather fight the heat and the crowds that are on the water in the daytime instead of fishing at night like I do and besides I have found that especially during the relentless heat of the summer here in Florida the fishing is much better at night and it is more pleasant doing it as well works for me????


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