There’s an art to snapping up a good beach campsite over Christmas.
There are the families who have been booking their favorites a year in advance every year since… well, ever. There are the groups that decide on a spot and get in early to ensure everyone can come along. There are the lucky ones that chance it and happen to get the last available spot.
Considering beach camping is such a blissful, idyllic way to spend the festive season, competition can be fierce. This year, it could step up another notch as people look for family-friendly escapes close to home. So how can you make sure you’re amongst the lucky few who get to enjoy Victoria’s finest sand?
There are a few ways to go about it. Here’s a quick guide to spending Christmas in paradise.
Find comfort in a park
The easiest way to get started is with a booking tool, which sifts through all the available campsites and lets you see at a glance what’s available. My go-to is booking.com. All you have to do is enter your search dates (I used Friday 24 December until Monday 27 December while researching this article) and a number of people (I put two adults and two kids). Then click the “Show on Map” button and the “Only Show Available Properties” to see what’s free. The good news? There are still some options.
The best one is Lakes Main Holiday Park at Lakes Entrance in Gippsland. There are lots of reasons this bustling holiday town is a family favorite – there’s a lot of fresh seafood, a great ice creamery, multiple mini golf locations, and lots of fun activities like learning to sail. It’s also a great base to explore some of the region’s best beaches and nearby towns, such as Ninety Mile Beach, Metung, and Marlo.
Go straight to the source
If traditional camping is a little more your speed, check out the beach camping section on the Parks Victoria website. State campsites are no longer available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Advanced bookings are mandatory and payment is required online before arrival. This is especially important if you’re going somewhere without phone service. The pay-off is facilities such as composting toilets.
So where are the best sites with availability? Using the same parameters as before, there is still some availability at Blanket Bay Campground in Great Otway National Park with sites priced at $15.50 per night (just remember you’ll need to bring your own water). This gorgeous spot is tucked away in a tall Manna Gum forest and plenty of walks. And look up! This area is home to thousands of koalas sleeping peacefully above your head. It’s also a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and exploring rockpools.
Plan a family day trip
Sometimes, despite your best efforts and forensic-level online investigations, you might still come up empty-handed. If that’s the case, why not book a regional family getaway somewhere inland and plan some day trips to the beach? Victoria is home to an estimated 1868km of coastline, with loads of sandy shores, excellent surf, sheltered coves, spectacular rocks, fascinating shipwrecks, gorgeous hikes, and abundant wildlife. This way, you can experience the best of the best without the hassle of booking.
For example, if you’re in Gippsland, why not plan a hike and dip at Wilsons Promontory? Or a cycling adventure at Mallacoota? Or a drive down the Mornington Peninsula where you can line up a few activities and make some memories? There’s plenty in the state’s west too, such as learning about the wreck of Loch Ard near Port Campbell or taking the kids paddling down the Glenelg River to Nelson.
This article originally appeared on Escape