Can You Fly A Drone At The Beach? [Answered]


Being at the beach is fun, but recording the moment is heartwarming and makes the day memorable. Taking photos is also a must, so bringing your drone to the beach is perfect for doing both.

But can you fly a drone at the beach?

While there’s no specific law warning against drone use on beaches, the FAA has general rules for drone use in highly populated areas.

So, while you can fly drones on beaches, you must consider drone use rules in highly populated areas and around the water, like maintaining a 400 ft altitude away from the water when flying your drone. 

Here, I’ll discuss what to do and not do when using your drone on the beach.

But all beaches aren’t the same. So, read till the end as I’ll also discuss if you can fly drones around beaches in Florida and California, among other places.

Flying A Drone At The Beach

Indeed, you’re allowed to fly your drone on the beach as long as you don’t overlook the general rules governing their use.

A drone flying over water

Why general rules? FAA has no direct rules regarding drone use on beaches, only overall rules when flying in crowded areas. However, individual beaches will have their own set of guidelines.

The beach users’ privacy rights are vital. Plus, their safety is equally paramount, just like your drone is.

Consequently, some beaches will set up signs prohibiting drone use. Please ask the authorities about drone use on that specific beach if you cannot see such signs. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Can I fly my drone at the beach?

Though there may be no restrictions on beach drone usage, some countries have set rules that apply to some beaches.

Therefore, to save yourself from breaking the law, do due diligence to familiarize yourself with the laws of your country, too.

Laws To Follow When Flying Your Drone At The Beach

If you want to enjoy precious moments around the beach while flying your drone, then strictly follow the FAA general laws, as they also apply around beaches.

These include:

Flying Over People

FAA laws restrict drone users from flying over people regardless of where they are, including the beach. 

So, the most vital thing to do is to avoid flying over people. Why? Drone crashes are unpredictable.

It could crash because you have lost control, or there could be a sudden wind pushing it away from your line of sight. The next thing you know it’s crashed and hurt someone. 

simulation of drones flying over people at the beach

Unfortunately, most beaches are highly populated during summer. So, finding safe places to fly drones would be nearly impossible.

To avoid this, visit beaches during cold hours when there are fewer people, for example, late in the evening or very early in the morning. 

Staying Under Max Altitude

According to the FAA rules, no drone should fly above 400 feet.

Some areas may have manned commercial aircraft, and using a drone at higher altitudes than the recommended ones increases the chances of having a collision. 

The law of maintaining the 400 feet altitude isn’t bound to certain areas and, therefore, also applies to beaches.

Community Guidelines

City, state, and national laws should guide you when you fly in beach areas. Let’s discuss them below:

City law: Each city within a state has different laws based on location, population, and events. 

State Law: Each state has different laws governing the use of drones. You must know the laws in your current state. These laws protect certain high-risk areas; for example, in California, you cannot fly a drone around prisons.  

no drone zone warning sign

National law: If there are set restrictions regarding flying the drone in any Nation, you must be sure to follow them.

These laws are specifically helpful if you’re unsure there of the laws in the city or state beach where you intend to fly your drone. Stick to national drone use laws to stay safe. 

In addition, community-based guidelines prevent collisions between your drone and unmanned aircraft. 

Keeping Your Drone In Line Of Sight

Like any other area, you should never allow your drone to go out of the line of sight as it can land in unexpected areas, like on people’s heads.

Alternatively, have a personal assistant who can keep track of the drone if you’re flying it too far away from where you are.  

To keep you free from trouble, don’t fly a drone over water; instead, fly it around the coastline. 

As the FAA law states, please resist the temptation to use a visual aid, like telescopes, to view your drone. Even binoculars and FPV (First Person View) cameras are against the law. 

Top Tips For Flying At The Beach

Aside from the above laws to observe during drone beach flying, there are tips you must follow to ensure that:

  • You’re free from breaking the law in the city, state, or nation
  • There are no drone collisions
  • The drone hurts no one
  • Your drone gets back home in a good condition 

Here are the top tips:

father and son flying a drone at a deserted beach
  1. Fly Away From Highly Populated Zones

Even on highly populated beaches, there must be a less crowded area where you can fly your drone comfortably. This is per the CASA restrictions

There are fewer activities in less crowded places, which means that there will be minimal distractions that would make you lose sight of your drone or cause an accident.

Head on to the beach early before the place is flooded with people, or later in the evening when exhausted beach-lovers are going home. 

  1. Use Smart RTH

If you decide to fly your drone over water, use smart RTH.

Smart RTH could help you save your drone before it hits the water. Avoid any possible distractions when flying your drone. This will help you see the RTH button whenever it pops up on your screen. 

Quickly hold it and redirect your drone to where you are. 

  1. Lock Your Drone In A Safety Case

Drones are expensive and delicate assets you don’t want to imagine losing to sand. When not in use, please pack it safely in its hard-shelled case so that dust doesn’t have access to its vital interior components. 

Include all the drone accessories in that case, as they’re equally delicate and need great care and maintenance.

  1. Do Proper Calculations

Never fly a drone over the ocean without doing your “calculations” accordingly. A single mistake would cause your drone to land in the water.

So, before flying it, be sure of what you want to capture and what you need to do to achieve that. 

drone landing in the water
Credit: Only the Ocean and Me

Ask yourself, are there possible obstacles or events that could suddenly hurt your efforts? Answering these questions will save you much trouble. 

  1. Have All Equipment Ready

Planning minimizes the chances of forgetting any essential accessories you may need while at the beach.

Key items to include are:

Landing pad: As I have said, keep your drone away from the beach sand. The landing pad is essential in giving your drone a landing spot free of sand. 

Drone Accessories: Every accessory you use while flying the drone elsewhere should be in your beach bag, like:

  • RC Cables
  • Propellers
  • A fully charged battery or batteries

Memory Card: Carry your SD card, and extras, to ensure you have enough space for new shots and videos at the beach. 

Other essentials include ND filters and a Monitor hood sunshade. 



You can fly a drone at the beach if you wish. However, regardless of what city, state, or nation, the beach is in, you have to confirm if there are any set regulations.

If there are none, please don’t ignore the general laws set by the FAA to govern the use of drones.

If anything happens because of not following these regulations, you would be fined a large sum of money and your permit taken away.

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Photo of author
Peter Karanja is a licensed drone pilot from Kenya, freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He has been using drones for land survey, GIS, and photography for the past three years. Being a drone user, he loves writing about drone applications, safety tips for using drones, and the best ways to get the most out of a drone.

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