In summer, sleeping under the stars on the shore, the sea seems like a perfect plan to spend the hottest nights. But can it be done? Is it legal to camp on Spanish beaches? As stated in the following article, the legislation prohibits it, although exceptionally some municipalities can grant permits, as indicated by the Spanish Federation of Campsite Entrepreneurs (FEEC). However, the most advisable to enjoy and avoid problems is to go to a campsite with direct access to the beach.
Camping on the beach? Is it illegal for all?
Camping on the beach during summer, in order to enjoy contact with nature and, in passing, save a few euros in accommodation, is not possible in our country: in Spain camping on the coast is prohibited. But why is it not allowed?
The reasons for restricting it are of various kinds and among them are health reasons, as well as guaranteeing personal and national security, without forgetting the enormous lack of respect for the environment that has taken place over the years on the coast. All this has led to today there is a very protective and restrictive regulation.
Sleeping in a store? Prohibited, except for exceptions and with the express authorization
Spending a night sleeping on the beach depends, sometimes, on the autonomous community or even the municipality in which it is intended to do so. The regulations are very restrictive and camping is prohibited (the installation of tents or vehicles or livable trailers) throughout the public domain.
But “at specific moments, with permission – or permissiveness – from the local authorities, an authorization may be obtained”, explains the secretary of the FEEC, Óscar Monedero. The criteria that are followed to grant this permission are the actions that you intend to perform, how and who. But getting it is almost mission impossible. It demands a high level of environmental responsibility and as a natural person, which in practice “is very difficult to be granted”, in the words of the secretary of the FEEC.
Parking on the coast: vans and motorhomes
A few years ago it was common to see numerous vans or motorhomes parked in the vicinity of the most bohemian beaches of Cádiz or Almería, among others. However, the municipalities apply an increasingly harsh regulation, so this practice decreases from summer to summer.
According to the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT), it is considered that a motorhome is stationed and not camped, as long as it occupies the same surface as in running and, in the case of the coast, respecting the distance to the sea that marks the Law of Coasts.
In theory, you can eat or sleep inside the motorhome (it’s a private space) and put chocks to level the vehicle, if the terrain is inclined (a recommended safety feature). It is also possible to raise the roof or open skylights, but as long as they do not exceed the perimeter of the vehicle.
On the contrary, it is not necessary to take chairs or tables outside, nor to extend awnings, advances, casement windows or elements that protrude from their perimeter. It is also not allowed to make spills of fluids (clean, gray or black waters), except those of the engine through the exhaust pipe, nor to emit annoying noises, such as the start-up of an electricity generator during the hours of rest or for long periods.
Sleeping in a sack or in the open, a dangerous option and almost never allowed
Sleeping in the open, wrapped in a towel or only with a sack, means exposing oneself to receiving fines from the local council.
But, above all, it can be very dangerous. In addition to the fact that personal possessions, such as mobile phones or money, can disappear, cleaning jobs on beaches can cause serious discomfort to those who spend a night on the beach. This space is cleaned at night or first thing in the morning when the sand is removed. On occasion, people who were asleep on the beach have been injured.
The solution for camping on the beach? In campsites with access to the sea
Although camping in the sand is prohibited in Spain, there are other options to sleep and spend a holiday near the sea, without spending too much and in a tent. Thus, you can camp in established areas such as accommodation: campsites, which are already the second option holiday accommodation behind the hotels. In fact, according to the data handled by the FEEC, the average occupation at a national level during the months of July and August will be around 70%.
On the coast of our country, you can choose between numerous campsites that are integrated with the middle of nature and have direct access to the beaches.