‘Tis the season for sun and surf! If you’re considering a trip to the beach this summer, here are a few hacks to plan the best day on the sand.
- Timing is essential! Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Don’t plan to stay all day.
- Pack what your team can carry when tired.
- Keep a gallon of water in the car to rinse everyone’s feet. Cover all the seats with fresh beach towels.
- Freeze drinks in advance and bring more than you think you’ll need (1 per person per 1-1.5hrs).
- Bring cover ups AND a full change of clothes.
- Apply sunscreen BEFORE you head out to the beach. Waterproof needs time to set, or it will wash off.
- Reapply sunscreen OFTEN. Help one another with hard-to-reach areas. Overcast skies do not mean less exposure to UV rays.
- Keep babies in the shade. Watch children at all times.
- Research beach conditions BEFORE you head out. Red tide blooms must be avoided. You should also note rip tides and keep an eye on one another if you swim.
- Find a great local snack spot.
- Discover the remote and private shores.
- For a more family-friendly visit, research the alcohol laws on the beaches you’re considering. During spring break and major holidays, some venues tend to attract bawdy crowds with unwholesome behavior. A beach with alcohol restrictions will be less likely to add brawling or profanity to the scenery.
- Bring a first aid kit. Include tweezers, vinegar or baking soda (for jellyfish stings), antiseptic, an instant cold compress, and bandaids (especially for cuts from sharp shells). Be sure to bring aloe gel, too. It’s cheaper to buy ahead of time at the dollar store than on the beach.
- Whether or not you can carry seating, at least bring a blanket. Try to minimize the sand on its surface by keeping feet off the edges. The blanket will offer a cleaner space for your belongings.
- Do not stow valuables in plain view (whether on the seat of your car or left unattended on a blanket). Be careful where you park.
- Keep electronics cool. Soft-sided coolers are light and easy to carry. Bring one for food and snacks. A second one can protect your phones and e-readers.
- Hydrate often.
- While walking in the ocean water, shuffle your feet to avoid an injury from a stingray.
- Enjoy the shore with sandcastles and shell collection. Consider involving kids in educational activities about sea life. Research the native shellfish ahead of time.
- Check your collectibles and throw back all live catches. Dying shellfish make a long trip home seem longer!
- Please DO NOT feed the gulls.
- Consider renting a cabana or covered beach chairs. The shade and convenience could prove worth the cost.
- Make use of the public shower stations.
- Sunset walks are great on western shores. With certain beaches, plan to leave by twilight or find yourself feeding the sand fleas.
- Dinner on the beach can be pricey, but offers a great view and the freshest seafood. Research the best local fare and dress codes. Some places offer a gourmet meal and welcome diners in casual attire.
- Remain patient, both in traffic and on the sand. Try to find a space with, well, space. Setting a spot close to the water might is not as great a priority if your kids are older.
- Give basic rules to your kids and don’t over-react when they’re bent.
- Set simple expecations for relaxation and relationship building.
If you’re considering a vacation to salty shores this year, I hope this list proves helpful.