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July 18, 2022  |  Outdoors

Everything you need for a day at the beach

Enjoy the sun and surf to the fullest with these essentials

On warm summer days, there are few things better than a trip to the beach. But if you plan to spend the entire day in the sun and sand, you need to be prepared. That’s especially true if you’re taking your kids to the beach. 

It all starts with having the right clothing for playing in the surf and having options for getting out of the sun when you start to overheat. But you’ll also want to have items that can keep you entertained, comfortable, and well-fed while you’re out in the sun.

Planning your next day at the beach? Here’s everything you need to bring with you to guarantee a good time. 

Clothing essentials for a day at the beach

Swimsuits and swim trunks

Having a swimsuit you feel comfortable in is essential for your day at the beach. Even if you don’t plan to go for a swim, wearing a swimsuit means you don’t have to worry about getting wet if you stroll near the shore or help your children dry off. 

A comfortable tankini style works well because it’s easier to take off when you need to use the bathroom than a one-piece style. Quick-drying swim trunks are ideal for going back and forth between the sand and sea. 

Make sure to choose comfortable swimsuits for your kids, too, so they can enjoy playing at the beach. A suit made of durable materials that can handle anything your kids can dish out can keep you from replacing their swimwear too often. You may also want to look for a kids’ swimsuit that offers more coverage and fabric with a UPF rating.

Rashguards

While you can slather on sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun, pairing your swimsuit with a rashguard makes it even easier to prevent sunburn. Rashguards can also reduce chafing if you or your kids plan to water ski, surf, or wakeboard. Most rashguards have long sleeves, so they cover most of your upper body and prevent the sun’s rays from reaching the skin. They usually feature a UPF rating of at least 50, too, to prevent UV rays from passing through the fabric and reaching your skin. 

You can also find some short-sleeve styles. For kids, you may want to look for a rashguard with a hood to provide extra warmth if it’s a breezy day at the beach.

Flip-flops

There are few things worse than walking across the hot sand, so you will want to bring a comfortable pair of flip-flops to the beach. They can also protect your feet from sharp rocks and shells along the shoreline. 

Durable, lightweight flip-flops are your best bet, but you may want to pay a little extra for a pair with features such as gel-infused cushioning to ensure they’re comfortable for hours at the beach. If your little ones tend to lose their flip-flops, pairs with a Velcro or hook-and-loop closure can help them stay on your children’s feet. 

Swim cover-ups

If you don’t want to run around all day in nothing but your swimsuit, a swim cover-up can make you feel more comfortable when you stop at the convenience store or concession stand for some snacks. Many cover-ups resemble a dress, so they provide coverage for both your upper and lower body.   

Some cover-ups are lightweight and flowy but don’t provide full coverage. Other styles cover enough that you can go from the beach to a casual restaurant without changing. 

Sun protection essentials for a day at the beach

Beach umbrellas

Soaking up the sun is certainly part of the appeal of a day at the beach — but too much sun is never a good thing, so you need the option to get some shade. A beach umbrella makes it easy to get out of the sun and even blocks the wind if it picks up too much.

To ensure that your umbrella is secure, look for a model with a stable weight base system that keeps it in place. You can also find umbrellas that use ground stakes and tie-down cords to keep them steady in heavy winds. 

Beach tents

If you want more enclosed protection, a beach tent shields you from the sun to keep you cool and provides privacy for clothing changes or a quick nap. It also offers a safe place for your kids to play. 

Most tents assemble quickly and easily and are large enough for a family. However, if you’re concerned about privacy, opt for a tent with zippered doors to provide a completely enclosed space. You can even find some models with a line inside for drying wet clothes. 

Sunscreen

If you take nothing else to the beach, you have to bring sunscreen. It can prevent painful sunburn and reduce your risk for skin cancer, so it’s a must-have. It’s especially important for little ones and their delicate, sensitive skin. 

A sunscreen spray is often the easiest option to apply to squirming kids. You don’t want to spray sunscreen on your face, though. Instead, opt for a cream or lotion formula.

No matter what type of sunscreen you choose, make sure you use a formula with at least SPF 30 for a full day at the beach. It can block up to 97 percent of UV rays, offering the protection you need for long hours in the sun.

Sports sunglasses

Protecting your skin from the sun is crucial, but you also want to shield your eyes from the glare. For the beach, sports sunglasses work well because they’re durable and can withstand the elements, including the sand and surf. Opt for sunglasses with polarized lenses that reduce the glare so you won’t have any trouble keeping an eye on your kids at the beach. 

Comfort essentials for a day at the beach

Beach towels

When you get out of the water, you’ll want to dry off, so you don’t worry about sand sticking to your skin. Beach towels are highly absorbent, helping you dry off more quickly. They also make it more comfortable to lay out on the beach when you’re not swimming. You can even find sandproof towels that let you easily brush off the sand from the fabric. 

Outdoor blankets

If you want more space or need room for a group to sit on the sand, you may be better off bringing an outdoor blanket to the beach. They’re compact when folded, so they’re easy to pack and carry. They also feature more durable materials than a blanket you would use indoors, so you don’t have to worry about the sun, sand, and water damaging the fabric.

The best blankets for the beach are waterproof, sand-proof, and puncture-resistant, so they can take a beating without showing signs of wear and tear. It also helps to choose one that folds up into a compact square that’s easy to fit in your beach bag.

Beach chairs

If you want to be comfortable at the shore, a beach chair is another must-have. These chairs elevate you above the sand and support your back, so you can relax more easily. If you have joint or mobility issues, it’s also easier to get up and down if you’re not sitting directly on the sand. 

Look for beach chairs with lightweight frames, so you can easily carry them to the beach. You can also find models with special features, such as built-in cup holders and a reclining back. Some even have a canopy at the top to block the sun.

Food and beverage essentials for a day at the beach

Coolers

When you’re spending the day at the beach, you’ll want to bring food and drinks along. A cooler makes it easy to keep your sandwiches, salads, water, and other beverages cold. You can find small options that work well for one or two people and large capacity models that can hold enough food and beverages for a group. 

Water bottles

If you’re spending time out in the hot sun, staying hydrated is essential. To ensure you have plenty to drink, it helps to bring a water bottle with cold water. A stainless steel bottle is a good option because it can help keep the water cold. 

Entertainment essentials for a day at the beach

Beach toys

When you take your kids to the beach, you want to ensure that they have plenty of beach toys to keep them entertained. Of course, pails and shovels are a must-have, so your children can build sandcastles and sculptures. Some sets also include sand molds, rakes, and/or a watering can. If the day looks breezy, a kite can help keep everyone entertained.

Bluetooth speakers

A playlist with the right beach music can make your day at the beach even more enjoyable. With a durable Bluetooth speaker, you can listen to your favorite songs when relaxing in the sun. Waterproof speakers are an excellent option because you don’t have to worry if they get splashed by the surf.

Safety essentials for a day at the beach

First aid kits

When you’re running around the beach, it’s not unusual to experience cuts and scrapes. Bug bites and sunburn are also possible. So it’s a good idea to bring a travel-friendly first aid kit to make sure you’re prepared for any injuries. 

Insect repellents

Bugs can ruin your day at the beach if they decide to make a meal of you. That’s why you should bring insect repellent to keep the pests away. A lightweight formula is usually gentle enough for kids, but make sure that it repels mosquitoes and other bugs.

FAQ

Q. What type of bag is best for carrying things to the beach?

A. If you’re looking for a beach bag, the material is usually the most important thing to consider. You want a bag that’s either fully waterproof or can dry quickly. That’s why vinyl and nylon bags are great options for the beach. It also helps to have multiple pockets or compartments to separate items for easy access. 

Q. How often should I reapply sunscreen at the beach? 

A. You should reapply your sunscreen every two hours. However, if you’ve gone swimming or are sweating, you should reapply it every 60 to 80 minutes to ensure you have proper protection.

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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