If you’re lucky enough to claim a bonfire pit at Olde Port Beach in Port San Luis, you know what a disappointment it can be to realize you forgot one of the most basic elements for hosting the best beach bonfire ever. Whether you forgot the lighter fluid, the S’mores skewers, or even the wood (but we really hope you don’t forget that) it can be a total mood killer. That’s why we’ve put together some useful tips on how to have a beach bonfire that will surely become one of your fondest memories of the summer.
1. Build your fire correctly
The song goes, “we didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning.” Well, we hate to break it to you, Billy Joel, but someone did indeed need to start that fire. So, first thing’s first: you can’t have a bonfire without the fire. Here’s what you need to ignite the night:
• Dry wood
• Lighter Fluid
Begin by piling loose kindling in the center of the pit ring. For the kindling you can use dry leaves and sticks, paper, or even moss. Then put your tinder on top of the kindling. Using your chosen ignition source (match, lighter, etc.) light the kindling and blow air on it slowly. Then, build a tepee. Use the smaller pieces of wood first, arranging the tinder in a cone-shaped structure. Again, light your tinder at the center and watch it burn. Although considered the most effective of all fire arrangements, the tepee burns through wood rapidly. Be sure to continue to add wood to your bonfire as the night goes on.
2. Set up camp
There’s nothing more frustrating than fumbling around in the dark for your car keys that got lost in the sand by the end of the night. To make sure this doesn’t happen at your bonfire, take the time to create a solid set-up. Bring a table, a pop-up tent, a lantern, trash bags, and sealed containers for your personal items. Tie the trash bags to the poles of your pop-up tent so that they don’t fly away and are easily accessible for your guests to use. Organize your food and drinks on the table to avoid those nasty chip bags full of sand that we’ve all regrettably reached our hands into at some point in life. Bring a plastic container and stow it under the table. Your friends and family can put their purses, phones, keys, and other important personal items in there for safe keeping from surf, sand, and smoke. Most importantly, be sure to bring a lantern or a couple of flashlights to aid in the clean up process after all the fun is over.
3. Comfort is key
One of the best parts of the Central Coast is the lovely ocean breeze that blows inland and cools down San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles on warm summer evenings. However, that also means that the beaches get chilly. While the heat from the bonfire will keep you toasty, we recommend bringing extra layers to ensure your comfort. Plenty of sweatshirts and blankets are a must for any successful beach bonfire. Be sure to bring enough blankets so that your guests have some to sit on and some to cuddle up under. If you didn’t bring enough, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, literally! You can purchase souvenir sweatshirts, towels, and other last minute items in the lobby at Avila Lighthouse Suites or Pismo Lighthouse Suites.
4. Music that will bring you together
The calming sound of the waves crashing against the beach can’t be beat. But nothing puts people in a good mood like their favorite song. Not only does music break awkward silences, but it has a way of bringing people together like nothing else can. For your next beach bonfire, bring a portable speaker and queue up your favorite summer playlist, let people make requests, or take your chances with shuffle. If you’re going for the classic beach bonfire feel, ask your musical friends to bring their instruments! Guitars, harmonicas, ukuleles, or even a small drum can easily be passed around the circle for everyone to showcase their talent (or lack thereof). Invite everyone to clap, sing along, whistle, or to simply laugh as the music and the fire bring a twinkle to their eyes. Whatever you choose, be sure to include some Beach Boys for a truly Californian experience.
5. S’mores and more
After your musical jam session while everyone is still circled up by the fire, it’s the perfect time to break out the food! After all, what’s a bonfire without roasting some goodies over the fire? Bring your favorite snacks to toast over the open flame: hot dogs, corn, and marshmallows are just a few of our favorite bonfire treats! Check out our previous blog for some of the yummiest S’mores recipes that are sure to have your mouth watering. Go out on a sizzle like this and your friends will be talking about this bonfire for weeks to follow. Just don’t forget to safely put out your fire before leaving the beach!