What can be better than sitting on the beach, watching the sun set while roasting marshmallows on a beach campfire? And the best thing is that you can do it all year round. Don’t just wait for the summer, as in the winter you’ll more likely have the beach to yourself. So here are our top 7 tips on having the perfect beach bonfire.
1. Check first
Not all beaches allow bonfires, so you’ll need to do your research first and check whether it does. Taking your own small fire pit is a good option on barbecue friendly beaches that don’t allow open fires. We love our small portable barbecue and fire pit. It folds down so small into a flat pack and it is easily portable. It has a griddle for cooking like a barbecue, or you can just have it as a fire pit. It is called the Cookey Barbecue Portable Charcoal Grill and costs £31.49 through Amazon.
2. Take supplies
We used our flints from The Friendly Swede to light our fires, again bought through Amazon. But you may want to take matches as a back-up. We also take some cotton wool, vaseline, a fire-lighter and some kindling.
When we get to the beach we try and mainly use natural supplies, so we look for driftwood. We also try and use dried grass instead of the cotton wool, but this depends on how the weather has been and so that may not be an option.
Then of course we take our food. Giant marshmallows are perfect for roasting. We also take long wooden skewers to roast them on. And a flask of hot chocolate always goes down well too. If you want more substance hot dogs or corn on the cob are good options.
Remember to take a picnic blanket to sit on or camping chairs if you want to be more sophisticated. Extra blankets for warmth and lots of layers too.
As you’re going to watch the sun set, taking a torch to help you make it back to the car is also good bet. Finally make sure you take a bag so you can bring all your rubbish back with you.
3. Pick a good spot
Ideally a spot that isn’t too exposed to the wind. Also make sure you’re not going to be caught out by an incoming tide.
Be sure to position yourself safely away from dunes or trees or anything flammable allowing for wind too. If there are others on the beach, give them space. No one wants the smoke from your bonfire blowing in their faces.
4. Build Your Fire
If it is a rocky beach, look for natural holes or areas where you could set up. Otherwise, dig a pit. You’ll want to make it about two feet deep with raised edges. Try putting large stones or rocks around it to make a circle and to give extra protection.
If you are using a fire pit, the same principles apply. Clearly you don’t need to dig a pit, but assemble the wood and flint in the same way.
If you have a fire lighter put that in the middle. Then surround with smaller sticks and twigs. Dry grass is good to light, but if not available then rub vaseline over the cotton wool and use those to light instead. Place these in the centre.
Use a fire splint (we used ours from the Friendly Swede) to light the cotton wool if you want to practice your bushcraft. Otherwise just use a lighter or matches. Then start to add more logs. Make sure you create a teepee shape as this is the best way to get air into the fire. If you just put them on top flat the fire will burn out very quickly.
To keep the fire going, periodically add more logs, making sure you keep a teepee shape going. Keep the fire small and easy to control.
5. Roast Your Marshmallows
Then cwtch up and roast your marshmallows on long sticks while you watch the sun set. To make s’mores, put the melted marshmallows in-between two biscuits. Rich tea or something similar works well. Pour out your hot chocolate or open a beer and watch the embers burn.
If you are cooking meat, like sausages, then a thermometer is a good bet to ensure you don’t get food poisoning.
You could also take along other snacks to tuck into while you’re there to prolong the evening.
I’m not a fan of music and speakers on the beach, I prefer to just listen to the waves. But if someone happens to be able to play the guitar then that’s perfect. That is if you can remember all the lyrics to a song, or otherwise like us you end up just singing a couple of lines and giving up.
It’s also a good idea to take along some games before even lighting the fire to make more of your visit to the beach. Games like volley ball, beach cricket, boules or rounders are all easy to set up and don’t require you to take much stuff with you.
7. Make it safe
Make sure kids are aware of the danger of fires and that they are not walking around too close to it. When you’re done, put the fire out with water and completely douse everything. Then cover the ashes in sand. Dismantle the stones and leave no trace of an open fire. So you leave the beach as you found it. Make sure its completely cooled and that you aren’t just covering hot coals as someone might step on it.
Beaches such as Langland and Caswell have barbecue bins where you can safely dispose of your coals and disposable barbecues. Open fires are not allowed on these beaches.
Please note, as always all opinions are our own. I have suggested products and provided links to those products based on what we like, these are not affiliate links.