Cristina is a Florida native and Realtor by trade. She enjoys writing about travel, real estate, and any other topics she finds interesting.
Taking a trip to the beach? Nothing quite beats a day filled with family fun, sun, and surf, unless you go unprepared. Then your great beach day can be a drag at best and pain-filled at worst. These nine beach essentials are the things you need to make sure you have a great time.
1. Swimsuit & Hat
I know, I know. This one’s a no-brainer. It's hard to enjoy the beach without a swimsuit. For the little ones, bring the swimsuit with a life jacket built right in. These special swimsuits help keep them safe as they explore the shoreline or toddle off into the water a few feet away from you. My son wore one of these until he was too big for them, almost 2 years old or so. We loved it for the safety and how well it fit. Plus, it wasn't overly obtrusive like arm floaties and regular life jackets are. If you have toddlers and haven't tried these one-piece suits for them, definitely check them out!
For babies and young kids, hats are a must. Their young skin burns easily and hurts when it’s just pink. Older kids and adults may even want to wear a hat later in the day to keep the sun off their fresh tans.
This one, too, should be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people forget their sunscreen. Why do you think all the beach stores carry overpriced bottles of Bullfrog and Australian Gold? If you’re new to the beach or have kids, put on at least SPF 30. This level of sunscreen blocks about 97% of UVA rays. If you're already starting your annual tan, or are accustomed to being out in the sun, you can get away with less protection, but for the sake of your skin’s health, don’t go below SPF15.
3. Towel/Beach Blanket
Not only are towels great for drying off the saltwater, they can also serve to lay on, or as a small picnic blanket at lunch. Hang a towel between two chairs for a shady spot to protect a small child from the sun, or around the waist as a partial cover-up. One of my favorite uses for towels is as a seat cover once you get back to that super hot car. Few things burn feel as awful as bare, sandy skin against volcano-hot leather or vinyl seats. Towels make a great barrier between your skin and those car seats.
4. Beach Chairs
Towels may be great for laying on, but beach chairs keep you off the sand. For older folks, these are also easier to get down and up out of than a towel thrown on the sand. Beach chairs are also great to park at the water’s edge and dip your toes to stay refreshed while remaining dry. This works especially well when you want to be close to the kids playing in the water.
A beach umbrella may not be an absolute beach essential, but it sure is nice to have one if you want (or need) a little shade. Plus, an umbrella can help keep the cooler cool longer by keeping it out of the sun. Beach umbrellas come in a lot of different sizes. If you don't feel like lugging one around with you, or you don't have one yet, many beaches rent chairs and umbrellas by the hour or for the day.
6. Filled Cooler
Pack water. Lots of it. It's easy to become dehydrated in the sun, especially if you aren't accustomed to being out in it. Water is definitely one of the most important beach essentials. Go beyond water though. Pack juice for the kids. Sodas and alcoholic drinks dehydrate so you’ll want to avoid drinking too many while in the sun. Pack some sandwiches, watermelon, and oranges. Oranges are some of the best things to eat at the beach and when out in the sun because they hydrate while providing essential electrolytes that combat dehydration. They are always our go-to fruit while out on the boat swimming or snorkeling.
Get the Ice Chest I Use at the Beach
7. Beach Toys
Whether child or adult, the beach is more fun with something more to do than sunbathe and swim. Younger children love building sandcastles, collecting shells and animals like crabs or starfish, and digging holes. For them, pick up a beach toy pack that includes a bucket, shovel, and molds. For teens and adults, bring inflatable rafts or tubes, a boogie board, or a ball for an impromptu game of beach volleyball or football.
Few things are as relaxing as reading a book at the beach. The hottest bestseller is always a sizzling choice. Kids can enjoy books at the beach also, especially ones about the beach, sea creatures, or shells. Read one then take a walk and see how many of the things in your child’s book you can find.
If reading isn't your thing, and let's face it, not everyone likes to read, bring a battery-powered, waterproof speaker. Use a Bluetooth-enabled speaker paired with your phone to play your favorite tunes.
This speaker is one of my favorites!
Keep a cute cover-up in your beach bag for those days when you want to hang out at the beach a little longer but don't want to actually be ON the beach. With a cover-up at hand, you can throw it on quickly and head to your favorite beachfront tiki bar or restaurant for a drink or a plate full of fresh local seafood. If you stick around a little later for dinner and a drink, you'll also get to see a great sunset and miss all the traffic leaving the beach.
Keeping these nine beach essentials packed and ready to go will ensure you are prepared for the next time you plan to head to the beach.
Did I miss anything? Which beach essentials are always in your beach bag? Tell me in the comments below!
© 2010 Cristina Vanthul
Cristina Vanthul (author) from Florida on May 26, 2010:
Brrrrrrr!! I had warmer weather in mind for the hub, but I imagine when you're accustomed to long Canadian winters, even a trip to the beach there can result in sunburn and dehydration! Take care, enjoy your swims!
epigramman on May 25, 2010:
I live 100 feet away from a beach here at Lake Erie in Ontario and it's finally Canadian summer!
I was swimming in the lake today which is a big deal for a Canadian who has just endured a long cold winter!
I also enjoy 'swimming' through your awe-inspiring hubs which offer a wealth of information and enlightenment!