No matter if you’re taking a day trip or planning for a long vacation, packing for the beach can be stressful enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand. But fear not! This Pro Tips guide is here to help you navigate the water of packing for the beach — no matter your beach personality. So, before you head to the waterfront this season, shore up on everything you need for the perfect beach day.
FOR THE LOUNGER
Sometimes, you just want to enjoy your moment under the sun — literally. For loungers, comfort is key and that starts with apparel. While bathing suits may be an obvious first step, it’s also important to be mindful of the climate variation between beaches and the time of day you are visiting. Bathing suit cover-ups like dresses, kimonos or sarongs and even sweatshirts can help keep you warm and comfortable on a breezy day. Oh, and don’t forget sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats!
Lounging can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like. Minimalists can pack a small beach bag filled only with the necessities like sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, towels and an outdoor blanket that will allow you to enjoy the benefits of laying on the beach without the peskiness of the sand.
For an easy way to enjoy snacks and drinks, you can also bring a backpack cooler. Backpack coolers help you avoid the pain of dragging your gear through the sand and allow you to keep track of your belongings while your drinks and snacks stay cool. If you need more space than a backpack cooler allows, consider bringing a beach wagon. These have wheels designed to roll through the sand more easily and are a great way to transport gear like your cooler, beach bag, towels and more.
Others may take on the challenge of building a personal beach utopia. Bringing an umbrella (don’t forget sand anchors) and a beach chair, which come in a variety of styles to suit your needs, is a classic way to maximize relaxation. Chairs that include attached umbrellas to provide shade, mesh backs to help keep you cool, cup holders for easy access to your drinks and pouches to hold your belongings are all features that can take your beach relaxation to the next level. Need help choosing the best chair for your needs? Check out our portable chair buying guide.
And don’t forget to pack some towel clips to pin your towels to your chair to help avoid them falling into the sand.
Meanwhile, if you have extra sheets and pillows and find some large sticks along the shore, you can build your own bohemian beach tent for a quick and tranquil DIY shelter.
FOR THE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY
The beach is a perfect place to turn a vacay into a par-tay. Beach parties can range in size and scope, but you should first check the rules and regulations of the beach you are visiting.
Set the scene for your beach party with a canopy tent, folding chairs and tables. Don’t forget portable speakers for tunes and outdoor games such as Spikeball, washer toss and corn hole for entertainment. Up your chances for social media-worthy moments by bringing along inflatable rafts and tubes, too.
Every good party has refreshments, so coolers are an absolute must. Remember to keep in mind that there are a variety of sizes, features and exterior materials, so choosing the right cooler is important. If you’re bringing a lot of products, you can keep everything organized with a collapsible portable bar. These bars allow you to rep your school or favorite team while also providing shelves to give you plenty of space for all your beach party needs.
Along with beverages, you can fuel your party with some food. Portable grills and camping cookware are easy to pack and use. Don’t forget things like plates, utensils, cups, paper towels and trash bags, too. For night parties, you can build a campfire or see if your beach has premade fire pits and break out the s’mores. Before doing so though, don’t forget to check your beach’s rules on grill and fire safety.
FOR THE ATHLETE
Beach trips don’t have to be all play and no workout. Many traditional field sports have beach adapted versions so athletes can stay in the game even when their toes are in the sand. Some beaches already have nets and hoops on their grounds. Be sure to pack gear like footballs, volleyballs or soccer balls so you can practice — or just have some fun.
Beaches can also be a great place to work on your fitness. You may already love long walks on the sand, but long runs can be great, too. Finally, the beach provides a great spot for alternative types of yoga such as beach yoga and stand up paddleboard yoga. Remember to wear sunscreen and stay quenched.
FOR THE ADVENTURER
For those not afraid to dip their toe into something new, the ocean offers endless possibilities. Before stepping out into the water, learn about the benefits of water shoes and bring along a first-aid kit in case of any unexpected stings or cuts. Also bring dry bags to tow along your valuables securely. Depending on your activity, you should also consider a wetsuit.
If you’d like a change of scenery, bring your snorkeling gear for a closer look at ocean life underwater. You may be able to rent gear or you can purchase your own.
If you’re looking for a way to ride the waves, bring along bodyboards, skimboards and kneeboards. To take your adventure to the next level, look for a rental tent to see if they have surfboards, jet skis or paddleboards available. Paddleboards can be used for workouts, relaxation or to experience the open ocean in a new way. Some beaches even offer things like surf lessons for beginners or saltwater fishing rods to rent.
No matter what water sport you decide to take part in, be sure to think of safety first and purchase or rent a personal flotation device before hitting the water.
FOR FAMILY FUN
Going to the beach can be a fun experience for the entire family, but bringing along your little ones will require some extra planning. Sunscreen, snacks and water are always important.
Keep toddlers and younger children comfortable and in-view by creating beach play-pens with a fitted sheet you’d use for a mattress. Lay the sheet on the beach with the open end facing up and place heavy or large items like beach bags and coolers into the corners to make the edges stand up and create walls.
Tap into your child’s creative side by helping them make sand art or bring a bucket to build sand castles. The buckets can be perfect to collect seashells, too. Go on a treasure hunt using metal detectors or bring a few beach toys to keep them occupied on the shore.
If your child wants to go into the water, be mindful of their swimming level and pack life vests, water wings or water tubes if necessary. Talk to your child about ocean dangers and help them avoid getting saltwater in their eyes with the help of goggles. Always keep an eye on kiddos in the water. For little ones who are too young for the ocean, bring a kiddie pool so they can still make a splash. Inflatable and collapsible models can be ideal to transport easily.
No matter your interests, age or group size, the beach has something for everyone — if you know how to pack for it. This Pro Tips checklist can help you better prepare and make the most of your time at the beach. Have fun!
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