What to Know About Beach Bonfires in Long Beach, WA

With winter ending and warmer weather approaching, our favorite time of the year is among us: beach bonfire weather! What better way to end your day strolling the boardwalk or playing games in the sand than by building a bonfire for your loved ones to sit around and ease into the evening?

Not only is it a great way to stay warm on those chilly spring and fall nights in Washington state but it provokes a dreamy ambiance that’ll settle into your memories of your vacation to Long Beach for years to come.

With your Long Beach vacation rental either on the beach or just a short walk away, you can easily carry down all of the supplies you need for the perfect bonfire. Don’t worry – we’ll cover those supplies farther down in detail.

Before you start gathering firewood and head to the sand though, there are some things you need to know about starting fires on the beach on the Long Beach Peninsula and how you can do it in accordance with city mandates.

Let’s dive into all of the details about having a fire on the beach and answer some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.

Are Beach Bonfires Permitted in Long Beach?

Photo by dotshock

Let’s get your most pressing question answered quickly: yes, bonfires are permitted by Pacific County year-round. The only stipulation to this rule is that fires must be built at least 100 feet west of the sand dunes since the dune grass is highly flammable and a protected ecosystem.

The only other time your answer to this question isn’t a straightaway yes is if there’s a burn ban out in place by the local fire department. Likely those bans only affect residential burning or land clearing burning though so your beach fire shouldn’t be affected.

Do note that although nearby, these same rules do not apply to Cape Disappointment State Park. There, fires are only allowed in designated fire pits and grills.

Are There Any Other Rules I Need to Know?

Photo by Dogora Sun

Other than keeping your fire far away from the flammable dune grass area, there are a few other rules you need to know before starting your beach fire.

These additional rules are:

  • Campfires must be smaller than 4 feet on each side and 3 feet in height.
  • Do not build a fire if it is windy.
  • Do not throw explosive material, including glass, into the fire.
  • Supervise children closely.
  • Report illegal fires.
  • Pack out your garbage.
  • Drench and bury your fire to extinguish it before you go.

What Do I Need to Build the Perfect Bonfire?

Photo by raymond orton

Before running off to the beach with a lighter in one hand and a couple of sticks in the other, hold tight. You’ll need a few more supplies to set up the perfect beach bonfire. Here’s what we recommend you bring along with you to the beach.

For the fire itself:

  • Small pieces of cedar shakes
  • Yesterday’s newspaper
  • Firewood 
  • A long lighter or small torch
  • Lighter fluid just in case
  • A shovel
  • A bucket

For your comfort and entertainment:

  • Beach chairs
  • Flashlight or headlamps
  • Blankets (depending on the season)
  • A cooler stashed with your favorite drinks
  • Snacks
  • Foods to cook over the fire (hot dogs and s’mores are perfect for bonfires)
  • Skewers (for the hot dogs and marshmallows)
  • Plates, napkins, and trash bags

How Can I Best Get My Fire Started?

Photo by Ground Picture

There are a variety of methods to starting a great beach bonfire but the easiest method for beginners is this:

  1. Start by digging a shallow hole. This hole will hold the cedar shake pieces and newspaper so you can heat the larger kindling from below.
  2. In a teepee formation, lay small sticks or the smallest pieces of firewood over the hole and your kindling (they need to be dry) Light the newspaper, blowing or waving on it to help the fire spread to the kindling. You may need to add newspaper before the kindling adequately catches fire.
  3. Once this happens, lay 2 or so pieces of your next smallest firewood over the kindling and small sticks. Do not do this too early or you can smother your fledgling fire. You should hear your fire starting to pop and crackle before you do this step.
  4. Slowly start to add more small pieces of firewood until the fire is fully established.
  5. You can now start laying on some of the larger pieces of firewood. Be strategic with your placement based on where the flames are the strongest (usually coincides with the direction of the wind) 
  6. Once you have a good ember bed established you can even burn wood that is not completely dry, but ideally try to stick to dry and seasoned logs for a less smoky experience. 
  7. From here, just remember to keep feeding the fire with new logs every time it starts to weaken or until you’re ready to call it quits for the night.

If you’re having trouble getting your fire to light, you can resort to using the lighter fluid you brought along with you but be careful.

How Do I Put Out My Fire?

Photo by Andris Barbans

Although most people think sand is the best way to put out a beach bonfire, they’re mistaken! Sand can insulate the coals and cover the fire so that a fellow beachgoer might accidentally step on it and burn themselves later that night or the following day.

Instead, you’ll put that bucket from the items list above to good use. When you’re ready to head in for the night, fill the bucket up with ocean water and drown your fire on repeat. You can also dump the remaining ice and water from your cooler in the fire pit, too. 

Once you’ve done this enough times that your coals are completely black and have no sign of red embers, you can cover up the remains of your fire with sand.

You’re Ready to Enjoy Your Beach Bonfire

A nighttime beach bonfire is a time honored tradition. Once you have tried this activity with your family, you may find it becomes a tradition of yours as well. If you happen to be staying in a Beachhousewa home, most homes are stocked with many of the supplies necessary for a beach bonfire.