When I lived the island life, I quickly developed a habit of grabbing the same beach necessities every time I headed to the water.
While the coast of Washington doesn’t see me snorkeling like I did in the Bahamas and Florida Keys, I still pack my beach sack with the same things, excluding snorkel gear.
Here’s a list of beach essentials that I recommend you carry to make the most of your shoreline adventure:
1. Travel games
I refuse to go to the beach without Bananagrams and a deck of cards. Even if I’m going solo. Sometimes it’s too windy for cards, so keep that in mind before playing Solitaire or Rummy. And sometimes sea gulls will swoop in and steal the letter tiles for Bananagrams, particularly the coveted vowels. Here’s proof.
It is of course important to stay hydrated while soaking up the sun, but I also never go anywhere without a water bottle. Drinking fountains are just too far away from my beach towel anyway.
I always bring music with me. If it’s a crowded beach, I am most likely going to be plugging in the tunes. If I’m traveling, I play music from my outdated iPod (read: songs from 2000–expect lots of High School Musical).
However, if the sound of nature overpowers the tourists, I forego the headphones. Puget Sound surprised me last summer with a delightfully vocal group of seals and sea lions!
In addition to the obvious beach towel, I usually bring along a comfy dedicated beach blanket. My blanket of choice has morphed between various styles over the years as they become soiled with seaweed and saltwater.
The best moments in life can’t be relived in a photograph, but nature constantly has beauty to behold. When I lived in Long Island, Bahamas, I kicked myself every time I got to the sea turtle cove and the camera was either forgotten or uncharged. Now I make sure I’ve got a means of snapping a picture if the opportunity presents itself.
Many of my beach adventures turn into hikes along old coral beds, which can’t be done in flip flops. I had to retire my last pair of Scuba booties, but any sort of waterproof shoes will do. (We called them aqua shoes in Ohio, but I’ve been told that is not a universal term. WHAT DO PEOPLE CALL THEM!?) Keens are also great! I wore out my pair in Florida–they’re not made for saltwater.
7. Other games
In addition to handheld games, I like to be active with other games on the beach. (I loooooooooooove games.) Growing up spending the summers on Lake Erie, my sisters and I played a minimum of two board games a day. Game pieces actually got lost in the sand and were recovered in future years during sandcastle building, hole digging and people-burying.
In case you’re feeling a 90s throwback, the beach board games of my youth included:
- Pizza Party
- Mall Madness
- Guess Who
- Ready, Set, Spaghetti!
- Chutes and Ladders
- Candy Land
In my 20s (ohmygodImalmost30), I tend to bring a volleyball and cornhole to the beach if I can.
8. Beach snacks
Snacks at the beach get their own term–“beach snacks”–because they tend to be bite-sized foods that we gravitate toward time and again when packing up for the sand. In my Ohio years, we always had Oreos at the beach. We’d freeze them and then let them melt in the sun. (Fun fact: Oreos are vegan.) Chips ‘n salsa was also a must and usually some fruit, veggie and cracker trays thrown in there. Frozen grapes are great!
Nowadays, I tend to bring fruit and trail mix as well as a sandwich. Check out my healthy, allergy-free recipes for some ideas! It is zero fun having to leave the beach because you’re hungry. Prepare ahead of time to prevent this!
Don’t ever go to the beach without a book. Just don’t do it.
Once, I made the mistake of bringing a book I’d read a few months before. I have regretted it every day since.
Kindles are great; just make sure they’re fully charged!
Sometimes, I also bring my animal identification books (birds, shells, etc.) because once a zoologist, always a zoologist.
10. Beach cover-up
To protect my skin from the sun but avoid overheating, I have a nifty, flowy, breathable button-up I bring. I apologize that I don’t know what material it is made out of, because this fashion piece is dynamite. If someone could help me out, that’d be fantastic.
Make sure you have good UV sunglasses, and don’t trade fashion for protection. With good research, I promise you can have both. If you have giant white scleras like myself, take extra caution to protect those eyeballs or you’ll get UV damage like I did! 😦
12. Notebook and pen
Not only does this come in handy for keeping score in card games, but it’s also a necessity if you’re a writer like myself. When that muse hits you, it starts spewing like a jar of marbles. Be prepared to snag those good ideas before they roll too far.
13. Jar for seashells
To be honest, I usually forget this one, but I am a sucker for beachcombing. I’m always collecting shells, seaglass and rocks on the beaches with which to make little seashell creatures. The beach finds end up going in my teeny backpack (which I much prefer to a tote bag) or in whatever container I have leftover from my lunch.
I’m limited in how many arms I have, and sometimes I get to the beach on my bike. But when I can carry more items, I’ve also brought or enjoyed the following:
- Hammock (you’ll need trees for this one)
- Metal detector (my friend had an underwater one and we found a whole penny!)
Note: This post was inspired by Tripping.com’s Florida Vacation Rentals. If you’re heading to Florida this spring or summer, be sure to visit some of my favorite coastal towns heading south:
- Anna Maria Island
- Boca Grande
- Florida Keys (all of em!!!!)
What are your beach essentials? Florida and Bahamas friends, I want to hear from you especially! 🙂
**Please do your part to protect the environment and avoid taking plastic bags to the beach. They blow away in an instant and are mistaken for jellyfish by sea turtles and other animals!**
All photos ©Stacey Venzel, Creative Commons license.