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 cannot 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 in the sand dunes, on 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 Florida, Huntington, Oregon, and Daytona encourage ATV riding on the beach. In fact, many off-road enthusiasts would describe riding a quad on the beach as the best experience on a quad. Nothing compares to that feeling you get when you ride your ATV on the sand dunes for the first time while breathing in the salty air that comes from the ocean. Luckily, there are plenty of places around the country that allow riding on the beaches. Florida, California, and Oregon have one of the most amazing sand dunes you can ride in America. 

Now that we established that riding ATVs on the beach is a fun and exciting experience everyone should have, let’s see which are the beaches that allow you to go crazy on your ATV. I will also share with you my favorite spots for quad beach riding in Florida & California.

Can You Ride ATVs on the Beach in Florida?

ATV in full gear riding on sand dunes

While Florida is a large state that offers a large variety of terrains on which you can have a blast riding your four-wheeler, you can’t say the same thing about the beaches. Apparently, 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.

Situated on Florida’s Atlantic coast, Daytona Beach offers perfect off-road weather all year round. This makes it a very popular destination for ATV riders. With its hard-packed sand and its 23 miles of open beach, this place is a perfect location to take your family on an adventurous but relaxing ATV ride. As the trail isn’t challenging at all, this is a great place for novices or even more experienced riders who are not used to riding on this type of surface.

If you love four-wheelers but haven’t got the chance to buy your own yet, don’t worry! There are plenty of rentals along the coast. Whether you choose to rent an ATV and go on an adventure by yourself or go on a guided tour, you will most likely have a wonderful experience. Riding is permitted on the beach in designated areas from sunrise to sunset at the maximum speed of 10 MPH.

If you want to buy a new ATV, you should check out this article where I present the most reliable ATVs in 2022. As you can imagine, a Polaris ATV is my top pick when it comes to reliability.

Can You Ride ATVs on the Beach in California?

Yes, you most definitely can. In fact, the state is home to some of the country’s most beautiful and wide beaches, which allow riding as well. 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 and 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 the terrain is 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.

Can You Ride an ATV on Huntington Beach?

Huntington Beach, like Pismo Beach, is a picturesque spot southeast of Los Angeles. Being bordered by the Pacific Ocean, it benefits from the same sand dunes that attract quad riders from all over the place. Huntington Beach is known for its long 8.5 miles of hard-packed white sand, and it is a popular destination for surfers as well.

You can take your own ATV for a spin or you can rent one on the spot. Either way, you will have a blast as Huntington Beach is not nearly as crowded as Pismo Beach, but you get the same sunny weather that the Golden State is famous for.

Where Can I Ride My ATV on the Beach in Oregon?

Riding ATVs on the beach in Oregon is always fun as the state is home to the biggest sand dunes in North America. Sculpted by the Pacific Ocean, the dunes towering up to 500ft above sea level make this area one of the most popular destinations among quad riders. Most people say that the best way to experience the Oregon Dunes is by renting a four-wheeler and going on an adrenaline-filled adventure.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, one of the beaches you can ride on, offers 32,186 acres of all kinds of surfaces, among which there are a few miles of insane sand dunes. The dunes are organized into three different sections, each requiring a different set of skills and riding conditions, making this spot suitable for all kinds of riders.

The 3 trails available for motorized vehicles are:

  • Siltcoos to South Jetty (16,086 kb)
  • Umpqua Dunes (10,322 kb)
  • Horsfall – Spinreel (20,691 kb)

Umpqua Dunes area is by far the most challenging trail because of the sand dunes that go up to 500 ft tall, but at the same time, it’s the most popular of them all. If you are not that experienced or you want a more relaxed ride, I recommend you go for the 5.5-mile beach of the Siltcoos to South Jetty trail.

There are a lot of local businesses that offer four-wheeler rental and even guided tours, which are extremely fun and entertaining. I really recommend you reserve your ATV or your ATV tour by phone in advance, as this destination can get pretty busy in certain periods around the year.

Sand Lake OHV Area is the second place to go quad riding on the beach in Oregon. Though it’s not as big or as breath-taking as the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the Sand Lake Area offers 1,000 acres of beautifully sculpted dunes that are not nearly as busy as the first place.

Do You Need Paddle Tires in Sand Dunes?

man in black tshirt riding atv in the sand

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.

How Do You Ride the Dunes?

Now that you’ve seen how much fun riding on sand is and how many great places offer this type of experience, you may be wondering how to actually ride the dunes. If you’ve never tried riding on sand before, you probably intuit that it is extremely different from riding on any other type of surface. The good news is that sand is one of the safest and easiest surfaces you can ride your ATV on. All you have to do is follow a few steps:

  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.

  1. Decrease 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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)
  2. Oceano Dunes Special Vehicle Recreation Area/Pismo Beach (California)
  3. Daytona Beach, (Florida)
  4. Sand Lake Recreation Area (Oregon)
  5. Huntington Beach (California)

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area in Florence, Oregon is by far the best spot for riding dunes. However, Pismo Beach is just as a popular destination as the first one. My other 3 favorites are Daytona Beach in Florida for its lovely weather all year round, the Sand Lake Recreation Area in Oregon for more relaxed and less busy trails, and of course, Huntington Beach which never disappoints.

Final Words

In my opinion, riding your ATV on sand dunes is a mandatory experience every off-road enthusiast must-have. 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.

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