How to Set Up a Hammock on the Beach

Whether camping at the beach or just headed to the shore for the day, it’s all about maximizing relaxation. From the perfect location to the right swimsuit, trashy beach read and picnic snacks, every choice matters a little more when it’s in pursuit of unwinding. If you’re a beach purest, who heads out with nothing more than SPF 15 and a towel, keep reading because there’s gear out there that’ll change the way you approach beach days. 

Maybe camp chairs already changed your outdoor life. Suddenly, you no longer had to sit in the dirt or sand while camping but could lean back with a cold beverage and chat with friends or take in the scenery. The next evolution of the camp chair is to the beach hammock. With a hammock on the beach, you don’t have to lie on a towel getting covered in sand every time you move. Rather, you can relax peacefully suspended in the air, a cool breeze surrounding you, taking in the scenery or napping. 

Before discussing how to set up a hammock on the beach, the hammock has an impressive thousand-year history. It’s no wonder that it’s survived centuries, because it’s all about comfort and convenience. It traces back to Central America and the Mayans, who initially made them from tree bark and plant fibers. Spaniards brought cotton and other fibers to indigenous people, who used them in the construction of hammocks along with traditional materials. Many explorers abandoned traditional beds from their homelands to use hammocks instead. Some benefits:  

  • Prevents contact with the dirty ground. 
  • Protection from ground animals and pests. 
  • Ventilations from woven construction. 
  • Swinging motion synchronized brain waves: fall asleep faster and deeper.

All these benefits are still true today. Maybe synchronized brain waves aren’t necessary for a nap on the beach, but when you’re on vacation, you deserve deep sleep fast. Depending on the beach you frequent, beach bugs are definitely a thing. There are many kinds that range from a mild annoyance to creepy or even painful. A few beach bugs to look out for:

  • Kelp Flies: usually found around piles of kelp feeding, they’re an annoyance but not dangerous.
  • Rove Beetles: they feed on organisms in the sand and don’t bite people, but still look a little creepy. 
  • Isopods: also called pill bugs, they aren’t dangerous but most people still wouldn’t want to share a towel with them. 
  • Sand Fleas: they’re crustaceans, not true fleas, but their bites cause feel similar to fleas and are itchy and uncomfortable.  
  • Beach Spiders: beaches have both wolf and dock spiders, who have venomous bites. They aren’t poisonous to humans, but they are painful. 

Hammocks are a great way to keep up and away from creepy crawlies who enjoy hanging out in the moist sand or feeding on beach organisms in the sand and water. The only way to avoid sand fleas is to not sit directly on the sand and try to avoid placing towels directly on the sand either. A hammock on the beach isn’t the only way to keep off the sand while overnight or day camping. Some of this beach gear may already be in your garage or the trunk of your car.  

Typical Beach Seating

Beach Seating - Beach Hammocks

When shopping for beach seating, these are the most common products that you’ll come across. They all have different benefits and will keep you off hot sand and out of the jaws of sand fleas. Hammocks on the beach require the most set-up, but also offer a lot more comfort and relaxation. 

Camp chairs are collapsible with suspended fabric or foam seats and backs. Some models come with cup holders in the arms and baskets on the sides for holding various items off the ground. Some lightweight models feature just two foam pads attached at the corners, and the tension of leaning against the back while sitting keeps it firmly on the ground. They range in cost, from simple stadium seating style up to metal frames with suspended seats. 

They also vary in both weight and size. Most are around 10 lbs and collapse down just 6 inches in height once folded. For sitting around campfires or in the sand looking out at the ocean, they’re essential. They rarely recline or offer adjustments in posture, however. 

Folding chairs for the beach aren’t designed with travel in mind. Their frames are made of heavier metal or wood than camp chairs, with fabric suspended from them. Most models recline slightly, for catching the sun or some zzz’s. However, they are much heavier and more unwieldy than camp chairs. If you have a beachfront property, it’s likely that you have a few of these in your possession. Otherwise, they take up considerable trunk space and require multiple trips to get to a campsite. Once in place, relaxing and reclining is easy. 

Traditional Hammocks are lightweight and compact enough to stow in a beach bag or carry in a stuff bag. They are the most involved to set up, as they don’t unfold ready-to-use the way camp chairs and folding chairs do. 

Portable Folding Hammock combine the technology of camp chairs with the comfort of a hammock. They collapse down into a transportable size and frequently come with a carry bag or a strap to make it easier to get from car to campsite. Once in place, they fold out and are ready for use. The only necessary adjustment is to get feet securely positioned in the sand for balance. Depending on the model, they may come with a UV screen to offer sun protection, cup holders, or baskets for holding items off the ground. Portable folding hammocks on the beach are great for instant tranquility.

Find the Perfect Location

Perfect Beach Hammock Location

Setting up a hammock on the beach is all about finding the perfect location. You need two anchor points a specific distance apart. Most hammocks need their anchor points to be 10-15 feet apart. When selecting a spot for hanging a hammock, keep in mind the changes that will take place in that location throughout the day. 

Keep an eye on the high tide line. You may think you’ve found the perfect spot, but depending on the beach you frequent, the tidal range may be as much as 50 feet. The tidal range is a factor of the size of the body of water next to the shore. The largest tidal ranges are around the UK and Nova Scotia, and the smallest ones are in the Caribbean. Chances are you aren’t setting up a hammock on the shore at the Bay of Fundy (who knows, you might be!) but it’s good practice to set up camp a good distance from where high tide comes in.

It’s also good practice to set up a hammock out of the sun, or someplace that will remain in partial shade. Your hammock will be the perfect temperature in the shade, but if you haven’t brought your own sunshade, it might be too hot in another hour as the sun moves. Even if you’ve brought a beach umbrella with you, once you get settled in your hammock, will you really want to get out to reposition or move it? Or, even worse, you drift off to sleep and the sun moves.  You end up missing vacation days because of the horrible sunburn you sustained while napping. 

The perfect hammock spot is out of the way of tides, sun, and crowds of beachgoers. With anchor points 10-15 feet from each other, and plenty of ground clearance.

How About The Perfect Destination?

Here are some of the best beaches around the US:

Set the Distance from the Ground

Beach Hammock In Sunset

Getting a hammock the right distance from the ground takes a bit of practice and skill. The amount the hammock sags depends on the weight of the user. The height at which the hammock ropes are set determines the ground clearance. As a general rule of thumb, the ropes shouldn’t be higher than shoulder height. 

If you set ropes too high around the anchor points, you won’t be able to get into the hammock. If they’re set too low, then the hammock will sag too far and you’ll be laying on the ground rather than pleasantly suspended mid-air. There are two contributing factors to decide on the correct height to tie hammock ropes.  

  1. The size of the hammock: hammocks range from 9 feet long up to 14. Obviously, the general rule of needing anchor points 10-15 feet away from each other won’t work for a 14-foot hammock.
  2. The distance between the posts: the closer together posts are, the higher up the hammock must hang. If posts are further apart, you can hang the hammock lower on them.

If you only go to one beach and always set up camp at the exact same spot, then you can buy a hammock sized to hang between existing posts. But it gets tricky if you enjoy going to different beaches or want to set up a hammock someplace you haven’t visited before. You may end up unable to hang a comfortable hammock because it’s sized wrong, or posts aren’t high enough to keep the hammock off the ground. 

Set Up Posts, or Find Trees or Buildings

Beach Hammock With Posts

You need two secure structures from which you’ll hang a hammock. It’s not unreasonable if your expectation is to hang a hammock on the beach between two perfectly arched palm trees. But there’s a good chance that you’re not headed towards a private beach on the Caribbean. And with beaches on the East and West coast of America, perfectly arched palm trees exactly ten to fifteen feet apart are hard to find. Other options for hammocking include:

  • One tree, and one post in the ground. 
  • Two posts in the ground. 
  • A tree and a building. 
  • Two buildings.  

Most hammock set-ups recommend drilling hanging hooks into hardwood trees or posts for secure hanging. Or, drilling into masonry walls in buildings with a bolt. Softwood, like willow, beech, and even palm wood can’t support a body hanging from them. Over time, the hook in the tree will pull out from the softwood. There are less permanent options for setting up a hammock around trees or posts. 

Tying Knots, or Use Hammock Belts

If you’re on a public beach and can’t drill a bolt into a post or tree, you can tie the hammock in place. This method also lets you adjust the height if you don’t get it right the first time, with minimal stress. If you’re setting up a permanent location for a hammock on the beach, consider tying it into place the first couple of times you use it. You think you’ve found the perfect spot, but it’s worth testing it out before drilling bolts into trees and posts unnecessarily. There are two non-permanent ways of hanging hammocks.

  1. Knots: Two knots are ideal for hammocks. The first is the falconer’s knot, which is secure but easy to untie by pulling a free end. A mooring hitch also holds securely in a few steps. You don’t have to be a sailor to hang a hammock though, shoelace knots will work in a pinch. 
  2. Hammock Belts: Also called Tree Straps. These are heavy-duty nylon straps that hug the surface of the tree. They’re designed to temporarily but securely hang hammocks for camping, beach days, and park visits. Feed one end of the strap through the loop in the other end around the tree and pull it snug. No risk of falling and no harm to a tree. 

Drilling hammock hooks into trees, posts or buildings aren’t necessary to relax in a hammock, but hooks will feel more secure. There’s added hassle and expense to investing in hammock straps, but they make it easier to set up a hammock for camping, the beach, or in the park. The alternative to hanging a hammock is bringing a portable, already suspended, hammock with you and set up will take less than a minute.  

Setting Up a Portable Hammock

If you want the relaxation of a hammock, but your beach destination doesn’t have trees or posts, bring a portable hammock instead. Or maybe you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of hanging a hammock. With a portable hammock on the beach, set-up is easier and they’re mobile for when the tide changes, the beach gets crowded, or you’re just ready for a change of scenery. They may be slightly larger to transport but are more streamlined than folding chairs and bulky umbrellas. 

Portable hammocks come with everything that you need to get set up in comfort in just a few minutes. Instead of hunting for trees the right distance apart or struggling to install posts in the sand, portable hammocks come with their own frame ready to hang. Depending on the model of hammock, it may come with added attachments for convenience. Some common features include:

  • Sunshade: great for UV-protection, and adjustable to move with the sun for all-day comfort. 
  • Padding: support padding at the end of the hammock eliminates the need to bring a pillow or roll up a towel for head support. 
  • Pockets: An assortment of pockets can hold necessary beach equipment, like sunscreen, snacks, and drinks. All within arms reach so you don’t have to get up.
  • Carrying Case: many portable hammocks come with carrying cases so getting from the car to your beach site is stress-free. 

Once you’ve located the perfect campsite or beach location for the day, a portable hammock unfolds, ready to move with the sun or shade. Steel frames frequently come with stabilization feet. It’s hard to relax if you don’t feel secure in a hammock. Stabilization feet give extra grip and support even in sand. 

Portable hammocks provide the relaxation and full-body support of a traditional hammock, without the hassle and stress of setting up a hammock on the beach. Plus, they’re more comfortable than a beach towel in the sand. Rather than getting covered in sand with a beach towel twisting and bunching beneath you, a portable hammock keeps you pleasantly suspended in the air. 

Suspended from a steel frame, you don’t have to worry about suddenly dropping out of the air because a knot didn’t hold, or a hook pulled from softwood. They’re easy to position for groups of friends to hang out and talk, take in the view, or avoid the sun. Convenience and relaxation drove the design of the portable beach hammock. They’re ready for instant unwinding regardless of beach conditions. 

The Mock ONE is the perfect portable beach hammock. It has feet specifically designed to not dig into the sand, but rather stand on top of it. It sets up in 1 minute, is incredibly comfortable, and super portable at only 15 lbs. 

Set Up a Portable Hammock for Instant Relaxation

Rather than going through the hassle of setting up a traditional hammock on the beach, invest in a portable hammock. Round out your camping gear with both camp chairs and hammocks for relaxing beachside without dealing with a sandy and unwieldy towel. For avid campers on the beach and off, hammocks are an essential piece of gear. They’re great for chilling out after a hike, next to a fire, or before heading into tents for the night. 

On the beach a swinging hammock will send you right off into a deep sleep, with the sound of waves in your ears. Otherwise, they’re great for hanging out and chatting with friends, reading your favorite beach books, or working on a casual tan. Combined with a UV screen or beach umbrella, they’re ideal for staying out of the sun without moving your towel every 15 minutes. 

There’s involvement and planning to set up a traditional hammock. Substantial commitment for a day at the beach. Instead, portable hammocks on the beach are easy to set up, leaving the whole day for relaxation.