Having lived at the beach for the past ten years, my family and I have had lots of time to test what works well as far as beach essentials to include in the beach bag. The biggest challenges are always the elements, and as important as fresh sunscreen is, you need more than that for a fun, safe day at the beach.
Before saying what’s in my beach bag, I feel I would be remiss to not mention the beach bag itself. I like a large mesh beach bag with lots of pockets, and space to hold at least four large towels, and the reason why I like the Whale Bag (disclosure: clicking product photos will take you to Amazon affiliate links). The mesh makes it easy to shake out the sand at the end of the day, and they always come in lots of fun color combinations.
In addition to a mesh bag, a lightweight chair you can carry on your back is great for hauling everything to and fro. In the past I have used and like the Land’s End backpack chairs. This year I picked up chairs that are very similar minus a few fancy details (such as monogramming) at Costco.
A sturdy and vented beach umbrella used with a sand anchor device can make the prospect of staying at the beach a bit longer much more appealing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people using wimpy umbrellas that with the first puff of a stiff sea breeze get blown inside out. If they aren’t anchored correctly, they go tumbling down the sand – potentially much more treacherous than anything you can find in the water!
For sunscreen I take special care on my face and décolletage using Obagi NuDerm products, which are paraben free and contain zinc oxide that blends relatively easily. They are pricey, but in my opinion are worth it. For the rest of my body, as well as my family, I usually pick up a big tube of cream and a spray can of sunscreen on sale at the drugstore, selecting ones that are waterproof. I know we are supposed to apply sunscreen 30 mins before going out in the sun (really? who comes up with this stuff?), but a spray sunscreen is nice for chasing down family members who can’t wait to get in the water. As you can imagine we can go through sunscreen like paper towels around here!
Next in the bag is a lip balm with SPF. I adore Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25. It goes on smooth, a little goes a long way and it is neither shiny, nor tinted, making it ideal for the whole family. Besides it comes in all kinds of yummy flavors such as vanilla and lavender.
I also love sun hats. Two brands I like are Scala and San Diego Hat Company.
Now for my favorite beach essential: the paperback beach read!
I could list all the books I would like to read in the coming months, but the book that goes in my beach bag needs to be chosen carefully. Escapism without being totally ridiculous can be a tall order. In my opinion the perfect beach read should be neither too deep, nor too shallow; too light nor too dark; too long nor too short. I will absolutely be skimming a whole page every now and then, because I’m busy doing something important like keeping an eye on swimming children, or watching sandpipers skittle in and out of the surf.
For that reason if I were to go to the beach today, I would buzz by the bookstore and pick up Beginner’s Greek. I’m intrigued the concept (a man and woman meet on an airplane and know they are soul mates) and by the reviews over on Amazon that say this read is a bit of a throw back to a 1940s comedy of manners and like chick lit from a male perspective.
The ideal beach? Both of my favorites are in Hawaii: Poipu Beach on Kauai and Hamoa Beach in Hana, Maui.
Now it’s your turn: What’s in your travel beach bag and your ideal beach would be where?
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Across The Cafe Table -Beaches by Cailin Szczesiul
Across the Cafe Table – Beach Essentials
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