You’re excited for a fun day at the beach; you’ve got your cute new swimsuit on and flip-flops that match. Now you may be wondering: what can I do to make sure this day is enjoyable?
Packing the right stuff is one of the best ways to ensure you have an awesome beach day.
It’s hard to not pack everything plus the kitchen sink. Our list is by no means small, but we’ve found that this is just the right amount for a day at the beach for a family.
After many trips to the beach with our kids, we’ve devised a list of ten items we always pack to make sure that everyone has the best time.
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Of course, you know that you’ll need towels!
So I’ll keep it quick! My advice would be to pack the lightest towels that you have. They are a much better idea for the beach because they dry much quicker and are easier to pack when either dry or wet. Plus, the kids can easily carry a light towel versus a big heavy one.
Last year I invested in a few Tesalte Towels, and we love them. They are lightweight, dry fast, and sand won’t cling to them.
Another great towel option that you can find on Amazon is the Quick Dry Beach Towels made by Dock n’ Bay. They come in lots of fun colours and patterns! And are a great price!
2) Beach Bag
A good beach bag is a must!
Sometimes several beach bags we take, mostly because I like to keep everything organized.
A good beach bag must be lightweight and relatively big.
Two great options for beach bags are:
- Woven Bags: This way, you won’t end up taking half the beach home with you in the bag. Also, it will likely get wet from towels, swimsuits, etc. So if it happens to get wet, it can quickly dry.
- Large “grocery” tote bags: These bags have so much space for packing everything. It’s easy to grab things in and out. We find them great for towels and beach toys.
These beach bags are available through Amazon or ShopBop and would be perfect for holding beach gear.
A good quality sunscreen is a must for any trip to the beach.
There have been many discussions lately on whether or not the ingredients inside sunscreens are good for you and the environment.
Creating changes to policy, such as the changes made in Hawaii. As of January 2021, all sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate will be banned throughout Hawaii.
These two ingredients are major contributors to coral bleaching, which results in significant stress to marine life and their environments, particularly coral reefs. (you can read more about it here)
So how do you balance caring for ocean habitats while ensuring you and your family are protected against sun rays?
Here’s a great article written by the Mayo Clinic talking about the ins and outs of the best sunscreen to use. They recommend:
- A broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher,
- that is water-resistant,
- while avoiding oxybenzone and octinoxate
We recommend reading the list of ingredients on every bottle. Many brands will have one type of sunscreen free of harmful ingredients but add those ingredients to their other sunscreens and products. Don’t assume that all products within a brand are “reef safe”.
4) Sunglasses & Hats
After putting on good quality sunscreen, it’s also essential to wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from the sun.
The first factor when choosing sunglasses is whether they protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays. You should be able to find a tag or sticker right on the glasses that will provide this information.
Ray-Ban Sunglasses are my go-to for good quality and stylish-looking sunglasses.
You don’t need to buy expensive sunglasses, especially for kids; we opt for cheaper ones but ensure they protect their eyes. Amazon has a great selection of sunglasses UV protection. (like these!)
A hat for every person in our family is something that is always in our beach bag.
Don’t pack anything they won’t mind getting dirty or worn out.
Our son has had a couple of bouts of heat exhaustion in the past, and if we’re not careful, he can feel pretty terrible quickly. During our last trip to Florida, we didn’t realize that he had too much sun, and he ended up throwing up in the bushes at Epcot. Whoops.
So now I’m extra careful with how we spend time in the sun and make sure he wears his hat, drinks plenty of water and sits in the shade during his downtime.
Roxy (for the girls) and Quicksilver (for the boys) are one of our favourite places to shop for beach gear. They have an excellent selection of hats that are perfect for everyone in the family.
My favourite beach hats for women are this simple Roxy Baseball Cap and this super cute Straw Bech Hat also from Roxy. And for men –> this baseball cap made with amphibian fabric and these super fun straw lifeguard hats.
5) Beach Umbrella
Every time we’ve left our beach umbrella at home during a trip to the beach, we regret it almost instantly.
Unless you are lucky enough to find a spot on the beach lined with trees, typically, there is very little shade available. Too much sun can quickly turn a fun beach day into a bad situation; a beach umbrella can make your day at the beach much more comfortable and enjoyable.
When looking for a beach umbrella, there are a couple of features you’ll want to look for.
- An umbrella with at least a six-foot diameter is suitable for a family.
- Make sure it can tilt in different directions. This way, you can change the angle without moving the umbrella out of the sand.
- Make sure it can hold up to the wind. If a breeze comes up you, don’t want it flying down the beach. A great option is to purchase a Beach Umbrella Anchor.
We use and recommend the Tommy Bahama Beach Umbrella.
We’ve had it for years, and it has held up well. It’s large and can fit several people underneath comfortably.
Other beach umbrellas you might like:
6) Beach Chairs
A beach chair isn’t exactly a necessity for everyone. Sometimes it’s kind of fun to sit in the sand. But if you plan on spending a good portion of the day at the beach, your back and butt will thank you for having a decent chair.
Our favourite chairs are Tommy Bahama Beach Chairs
They are comfortable and have several fun features like a cup holder, pillow and cooler. They have backpack-style straps making them so easy to carry even the kids can do it! You can find them online from Tommy Bahama on Amazon or keep your eyes out at your local Costco store.
Other beach chairs you might like:
7) Fun Stuff
Fun Stuff is a pretty broad category. You’ve done an excellent job as long as it keeps everyone happy and busy!
These are some of our favourite things to bring to the beach to keep our kids happy and busy.
It’s a bit cumbersome, but our teenagers love to play Spike Ball in the sand. As long as there is lots of space and they arent disturbing other beachgoers, that is!
I love to take lots of photos of my family, but I hate taking my DSLR camera when I know there is a chance itcould get wet, sandy or damaged in any way.
A few years ago we purchased a GoPro Hero7 specifically to take with us on beach trips, vacations and any adventure where I didn’t want to pack my big camera along. I am super happy with the quality of the photos and videos. It’s so compact and lots of fun!
I love using it when travelling and because it’s so durable I am happy to let the kids take it to make their own videos or to take photos.
This is a picture I took with our GoPro Hero7 during a trip to Maui.
Another option, if you are looking for a camera that just takes photos, is the Olympus Tough TG-6, which is highly rated.
We have not tried this camera, but the reviews were so good that I thought it would be worth mentioning.
It is excellent for all kinds of adventures. It’s able to go underwater up to 15 metres and won’t have to worry about sand getting into places it shouldn’t
9) First Aid Kit
Being prepared for minor injuries is always a good idea when you are out with your family, and the beach is no exception.
We’ve had a couple of incidents that we’ve needed a first aid kit for when we’ve gone to the beach.
The first wasn’t so severe, but our one daughter stepped on a wasp. She wasn’t bleeding or anything, but sometimes all it takes for kids to feel better is to put a band-aid on. It saved us from having to leave for the day, and she was back to normal within a few minutes.
The second time we needed a first aid kit was when a friend and I were swimming in the ocean in Maui when she accidentally kicked a piece of lava rock underwater. It cut her foot, and she was bleeding.
Minor cuts and scrapes can happen anywhere. It’s smart to come to the beach prepared. Sometimes it can mean saving your day at the beach vs. having to go home to treat a minor issue.
We like this Mini First Aid Kit. It comes in a small plastic waterproof container and doesn’t take up much space in your bag.
10) A Cooler filled with Snacks & Drinks
If you’re planning to spend a day at the beach, you’ll want a cooler that will keep your food and drinks cold all day.
Some of the best coolers available are made by Yeti. They are a high-quality product that you can guarantee your food and drinks will stay cold for hours.
Coolers that you might like:
Make sure you have lots of water.
You’ll need to keep yourself hydrated when you’re in the hot sun all day. Water is the best option. At home, fill up a reusable water bottle for every person in your family.
Or pack lots of bottled water. Bring a sharpie to write the bottles’ names and recycle them afterwards!
Water is great, but everyone will also want something fun to drink. Pop, iced tea, and juice boxes are favourite drinks.
Depending on where your beach is located, chances are you’re not supposed to be consuming alcohol at the beach.
So if this is something you’d like to do, try not to make it too obvious by bringing insulated cups Plus, it will help keep your drink cold and keep sand out with the closeable lid.
Snacks are a must!
The kids are so busy running and swimming that they burn lots of energy. Keep them happy by having foods they like that are easy to grab.
Here are some foods we like to pack for a day at the beach.
- Cut up fruit like apples, watermelon, pineapple, etc.
- Cut up veggies
- Chips, popcorn, pretzels
- Beef jerky, pepperoni sticks, sausage
- Chicken wraps, mini croissant sandwiches, lettuce wraps
- Fried Chicken
- Premade salads such as coleslaw, macaroni or potato.
Don’t forget to bring wipes, cutlery, plates and napkins if needed. Make sure you have a bag for all of your garbage. Don’t leave anything on the beach!
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