The sumptuous feel of sand beneath your feet and sweet warmth of the sun can turn into seared skin, burned soles, and aggravation if you don’t properly prepare for a day at the beach. What do you need beyond excellent weather, good friends, and sunscreen to make a beach day relaxing and pleasurable? Here is a roundup of some ways to make sure you and yours have fun in the sun ocean-side.
Create a beach base camp: Stake your claim with a king-sized flat sheet or large, lightweight blanket, and instantly create a communal, friendly space for your crew. If it’s a windy beach, use clips or shoes strategically placed to keep the sheet or blanket in place. Next, add a towel on the sheet (so it can soak up excess water after swimming or as a pillow for your head), an umbrella to provide some shade, and voila, basic beachside comfort has been achieved.
Keep dry with your favorite beach towel: Beach towels are much more than just a colorful fashion statement. Towels that have quick-dry properties aren’t as heavy to carry or as likely to get musty. Others feature easy roll-up with built-in ties or elastic loops that quickly secure them into a compact bundle when it’s time to go. Oversized towels offer versatility, by offering extra coverage and drying area. Sarongs provide a lightweight cover-up or an ad hoc dressing room for an on-the-beach quick change, and can be used to replace a towel in a pinch.
Take a load off with a fold-up beach chair: Have all the comfort of home with a beach chair that offers great back support, easy-carry shoulder straps, integrated cup holders, adjustable neck rests, zippered storage pocket, and even umbrellas or canopies to block strong rays. Get some comfy snoozing in with a reclining model. Taller models work well for the less mobile of us, whereas the shorter legged versions don’t block the view of the people behind you. If you want to be one with the beach, sit-on-the-ground picnic seats like the Picnic Time Ventura Portable Backpack Seat are super compact and offer great back support.
Umbrellas — great in the sun too: Even the most avid sun lover can need a break from the heat when the rays are unrelenting. Beach umbrellas can offer up to 100 UPF/SPF protection from the sun. An umbrella can also provide a visual beacon to help you find your way back to your beach base camp if you go wandering. As the day progresses, move your base camp around the umbrella to catch the shade as the sun moves across the sky.
Clothes make a difference on the beach: Slip-on shoes, such as flip-flops, will keep the shock of hot sand from your soles and are easy to get on and off. Aqua shoes or athletic sandals can be great on the beach and in the water, especially if there’s a rocky sand bank. Wet wipes can provide a quick refresh when your skin starts to feel the sting of salt. In addition to your swimsuit and cover-up, bring a full change of clothing, including underwear, so you are not stuck in a wet or uncomfortable swimsuit for the ride home.
Make like a classic movie star — use a hat and sunglasses: In addition to building some beachside mystique, you can help ward off squinting and sun damage by shading your eyes with sunglasses and a hat or visor with a 3-inch-plus brim. Sunglasses should block at least 99 percent of UVB and UVA rays and provide UV 400 protection. Straw hats or hats with ventilation help keep you cool on the beach by letting heat escape from your head while keeping your face and neck shaded.
Tips on successful noshing seaside: If you want to eat healthfully at the beach, you will likely want to bring your own food. A clever way to keep food cool and stay hydrated is to freeze water bottles the night before and tuck them into your cooler. As the bottles melt, they provide chilled fresh drinking water. If sand castles are on your beach activity list, you may want to bring your food in different size containers. Just be sure to recycle the containers when you’re leaving, so you “leave no trace” in nature.
Eventually, you’ll want to get moving: When you tire of swimming, reading, and napping, fight off sun malaise with activity. Take a walk. Build sand castles. Play games such as volleyball, Frisbee, and beach paddle, or with younger kids, water pail relay, beach bowling, or shell hunts. (Note: Remember to practice good environmentalism by enjoying the shells at the beach only, not at home.) If all your gear starts to add up, investing in a handy beach caddy can help make moving it to and from home easier.
What do you do to make sure your beach experience is pleasurable? We want to know!