Can You Ride ATVs on the Beach? (Florida, California & Daytona)


\If you are planning on spending your spring break at the seaside and are wondering whether you can or can’t ride a four-wheeler on the beach, I’ve got great news for you. There are plenty of beaches where you can have lots of fun on the sand dunes while riding your quad. However, there are some things you need to take into consideration when riding ATVs on the beach.

You can ride ATVs on the beach. Beaches from all over the country such as Huntington, Oregon, and Daytona allow ATV riding on the beach. Riding ATVs on the beach is a fun experience, but it’s best to use a four-wheeler that is equipped with special paddle tires. Regular ATV tires are not designed for sand and this is why opting for padding tires that can scoop the sand is always better. It’s important to mention that private beaches may not allow ATV riding. 

Now that you know riding four-wheelers on the beach is a fun and exciting experience that is allowed on most beaches (excluding private beaches that have their own rules) let’s go ahead and take a look at the best beaches you can ride on your quad.

imagine showing that you can ride ATVs on the beach

Can You Ride ATVs on the Beach?

ATV stands for “all-terrain vehicle,” and therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can ride four-wheelers on the beach. In fact, there are people who only ride their ATVs on sand dunes. This is because riding ATVs on the beach is a fun and exciting experience that gives you all the adrenaline rush you could ever ask for. You can click here to check out a YouTube POV video of someone riding their ATV on the beach and having a great time.

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However, not all beaches are open to ATV riders. As previously mentioned, private beaches might not allow ATV riding. The reason behind this is that private beaches are for tourists who want to get a nice tan while sipping on a margarita and not be bothered by loud ATVs. In addition, you should consider buying a set of ATV paddle tires. This way, you will never have issues with traction, but you should make sure that you use the correct ATV bolt pattern for your model.

Is ATV Dune Riding Allowed on the Beach in Florida?

Sadly, you can’t ride ATVs on all beaches in Florida. The only beach you can ride your four-wheeler on is Daytona Beach, a very popular destination for tourists as well as locals. Daytona Beach is known as the “World’s Most Famous Beach” for numerous reasons, but mainly because its open white-sand beach welcomed the first automobile and motorcycle races in 1902. While nowadays, the races in the area no longer take place on the beach, visitors can still enjoy a slow ride in the designated areas.

Since I am talking about riding ATVs in Florida, I feel it’s important to share that the state is pretty strict on ATV riding. Florida’s off-highway and all-terrain vehicles law states that “ATVs may only be operated on unpaved roadways where the posted speed limit is less than 35 MPH and only during daylight hours”. Therefore, you should keep this in mind if you are planning to take your ATV for a ride on the famed Florida sand dunes.

Can You Ride ATVs on the Beach in California?

man in black tshirt riding atv in the sand

Yes, you most definitely can. In fact, the state is home to some of the country’s most beautiful and wide beaches, which are perfect for riding four-wheelers. If you are in California and looking to have some off-road fun, you should know that you are within reach of one of the most famous beaches on which riding is permitted in the States. Situated only 3 hours away for Los Angeles, the Oceano Dunes Special Vehicle Recreation Area, known by many people by its old name, the Pismo Dunes is a popular destination among off-road experts (as well as amateurs) and welcomes 2 million visitors each year. Known for its iconic towering sand dunes formed by the strong winds coming from the Pacific Ocean, Pismo Beach is the perfect destination for ATV enthusiasts of all ages.

Not only is the terrain suitable for any type of rider, but also the ATV rentals you will find in Pismo Beach are equipped with a great variety of quads to satisfy every need. Starting from automatic models like the Honda 250, a quad that is more than enough for beginners, to more powerful machines like the Cam-Am Outlander 450, you will most definitely find the perfect match for you in Pismo Beach. The weather around the year doesn’t disappoint either, placing this beach in the top 5 among four-wheeler amateurs. Just make sure that you know how to steer an ATV before getting on a powerful model.

Do You Need Paddle Tires in Sand Dunes?

ATV wheel featuring sand paddles for dune riding

This is maybe the most asked question when it comes to riding four-wheelers on the sand, and the answer is very simple: no, you don’t need paddle tires to ride the sand dunes, but they will make your life a lot easier and probably more fun too. While you can ride some smaller sand dunes without paddles, for other more challenging areas, paddle tires are a must-have item as they give you excellent traction. They will help you climb the dunes faster and easier and they will prevent you from getting stuck in the sand.

I want to highlight that you should only use ATV paddle tires only on sand dunes. The paddles will break if you take this type of tire on regular roads. If you are serious about riding your ATV on sand dunes and dirt roads, my advice is to get two sets of tires that you can easily swap depending on the type of terrain you are planning to ride on. In case the tires get punctured, you should be prepared to patch your ATV tires. It’s easier than you think!

The Risks of Riding ATVs on the Beach

Riding four-wheelers on the beach is a fun time and there is no doubt about it. However, you can’t deny that it can be risky. The ever-changing and unpredictable nature of beach sand can be challenging for riding quads. Nonetheless, here are the most dangerous risks of riding ATVs on the beach:

  • Unpredictable Terrain

Beach sand conditions can vary widely, even over short distances. This unpredictable terrain can lead to riders becoming stuck or, worse, flipping their vehicles.

  • Corrosive Sea Air

The salty mist from the ocean can quickly corrode metal parts of an ATV, leading to faster wear and potential mechanical failures.

  • Safety Concerns on Crowded Beaches

Busy beaches increase the risk of collisions with beachgoers, especially children who might be playing in the sand.

Tips & Tricks for Riding Sand Dunes

ATV in full gear riding on sand dunes

While riding ATVs on sand dunes might seem like a scary and challenging experience, I assure that this is not the case. If you don’t go crazy and follow the rules of ATV sand riding, you will are guaranteed to have a fun time. In case you are not familiar with the rules of ATV sand riding, you can check them out below:

#1 Obey the law

Whether we’re talking about speed or staying on the designated trails, you’d better follow all the rules in order to stay safe while riding on sand. Be sober, wear a helmet and other protective gear, stay only in the designated areas, and don’t go over the speed limit.

#2Decrease the weight of your machine

Don’t carry an unnecessary load with you when riding on sand, and try to stay away from extremely heavy additions such as skid plates. While you do need some kind of skid plate to sand-proof your engine, one that is unnecessarily heavy will only weigh you down. Having a lighter ATV will make you feel like you are floating on the sand dunes.

#3 Use spotters

The golden rule when it comes to dune riding is to never ride alone. If something were to happen to you, it is extremely important to have someone that can get help. Moreover, using a spotter is essential when it comes to jumping over dunes. A spotter parks his quad at the top of the hill to let other drivers know you are there and also to let you know if the dune is free before you make the jump.

#4 Get your tires game right

Whether you choose to use paddle tires or not, make sure you get the right pressure in your tires. A softer tire will make your life a lot easier when you try to climb the dunes.

#5 Transition the dunes like a PRO

Last but not least, never go straight up when climbing a dune. This puts you at high risk of accidents because you can’t see what’s waiting on the other side. When jumping over a dune, go up and make a turn before reaching the top, just as you were to ride along the ridge of the dune. This will allow you to get a better view and will also let other riders know you are there.

I actually wrote a beginner-friendly guide that shows how to steer an ATV. This is an essential skill that all beginners need to learn if they want to ride on mountain trails or sand dunes.

Top 5 Beaches to Ride ATVs in America

#1 Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (Florence, Oregon)

Nestled in Florence, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area boasts some of the largest coastal dunes in North America. With its sprawling landscapes that stretch over 40 miles along the Pacific coast, it’s an ATV enthusiast’s dream playground. The ever-shifting sands create a dynamic terrain, perfect for both novices and experts looking for a thrilling ride. Beyond the adrenaline rush, visitors can marvel at the diverse ecosystem, from dense forests to rippling waterways, making it a unique combination of adventure and natural beauty.

#2 Oceano Dunes Special Vehicle Recreation Area/Pismo Beach (California)

Oceano Dunes, often coupled with the fame of Pismo Beach, is California’s beachfront off-roading mecca. It’s one of the few places in the state where you can drive your ATV right on the shore, feeling the Pacific breeze as you navigate the sandy terrain. The majestic sunsets, teamed with the rhythmic sound of crashing waves, offer an unmatched riding experience. Not to forget, the nearby Pismo Beach town adds charm with its local eateries and vibrant beach culture.

#3 Daytona Beach, (Florida)

Synonymous with speed and adventure, Daytona Beach is not just about its iconic car races. The hard-packed sandy shores present an ideal backdrop for ATV lovers. As you throttle up, the vast expanse of golden sand with the Atlantic Ocean on one side offers a riding experience that’s both exhilarating and scenic. With plenty of events and attractions year-round, Daytona promises more than just a ride—it’s a destination full of memories.

#4 Sand Lake Recreation Area (Oregon)

Hidden away on the Oregon coast, the Sand Lake Recreation Area is a sandy oasis for off-road enthusiasts. This gem is surrounded by a lush forest, freshwater lakes, and the expansive Pacific Ocean, providing a varied terrain for every ATV adventurer. The dunes offer a mix of challenges, from steep climbs to open areas perfect for speeding across, all while being serenaded by the ocean’s calming whispers.

#5 Huntington Beach (California)

While Huntington Beach is globally renowned as Surf City USA, its broad sandy stretches also beckon ATV riders looking for a Californian beachside adventure. Riding here allows one to enjoy the iconic Californian palm trees, surf vibes, and the rhythmic cadence of waves, all while navigating the sands on their favorite ATV. The lively pier, bustling boardwalk, and surf culture amplify the experience, making it a must-visit for those looking to combine beach fun with off-roading escapades.

Final Words

In my opinion, riding your ATV on sand dunes is a “must-have” experience for everyone who loves riding ATVs. If you have never tried riding quads on the sand before, I guarantee that only one ride is enough to get you hooked on this thrilling experience. Sand is extremely easy to ride on, and it’s also pretty safe if you ride within your skill levels, wear protective gear, and follow some basic rules. Luckily for you, there are plenty of great places around the states where you can go riding on sand and have tremendous fun all year round.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

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