How to Pack for a Fun and Safe Beach Vacation

Needing A Beach Break

Whether staying at home and visiting a local beach or taking a break from the cold climate in which you're living and taking a long distance beach vacation, preparation is key. Maximum enjoyment requires the appropriate tools and supplies. Most of all, a great love of the calming sound of waves, diving into cool, crisp water and most of all lounging on the sand and doing absolutely nothing else are key states of mind.

Punta Cana Anyone?

How about taking a vacation from the cold of the northern US and Canada climate.
How about taking a vacation from the cold of the northern US and Canada climate. | Source

“It’s hard for me to put into words why I like the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me, almost like therapy...Beach Therapy”

--Amy Dykens

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mike Weir Beach, Lake Huron, Bright's Grove, Ontario, August 2011Mike Weir Beach, Lake Huron, Bright's Grove, Ontario, August 2011Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island Canada, August 2010
Mike Weir Beach, Lake Huron, Bright's Grove, Ontario, August 2011
Mike Weir Beach, Lake Huron, Bright's Grove, Ontario, August 2011 | Source
Mike Weir Beach, Lake Huron, Bright's Grove, Ontario, August 2011
Mike Weir Beach, Lake Huron, Bright's Grove, Ontario, August 2011 | Source
Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island Canada, August 2010
Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island Canada, August 2010 | Source

Great Beach Experiences

Every year I take my three sons back to my hometown of Sarnia, Ontario which is on the shores of Lake Huron. It is our beach time as well as time to spend with family still living there. My oldest son is now 17 and we have been making this yearly excursion since he was a wee baby. There is nothing more relaxing and fun for kids as an afternoon or day at the beach. Sarnia is home to several wonderful swimming areas. We are fortunate that the beaches are rarely closed due to bacterial contamination of the water. Lately, we have made Mike Weir Beach in Bright's Grove near Sarnia our annual destination point. Near white sand with beautifully clear water, it is an entirely public beach with great access and an associated park. Washroom facilities are close by and the beach is often minimally busy especially on week days which tend to be the most convenient time for our visits. We have also visited beaches in various Atlantic Provinces of Canada, our favourite so far being Cavendish Beach in Prince Edward Island. Cocoa Beach in Florida was also another favourite destination we would like to experience again! I have amassed the following tips from years of beach travel with my boys at various stages of their lives. Their needs have changed somewhat over the years but the basics still apply!

Mike Weir Beach near Sarnia, Ontario Canada

show route and directions
A markerMike Weir Beach, Mike Weir Park Road, Sarnia Ontario Canada -
Mike Weir Park Rd, Sarnia, ON N0N, Canada
[get directions]

B markerSandbanks Provincial Park -
Sandbanks Provincial Park, Prince Edward, ON K0K 2T0, Canada
[get directions]

Visit beautiful Prince Edward County in Ontario near Kingston and enjoy the beach as well as some amazing local wineries and artistry!

C markerWasaga Beach -
Wasaga Beach, ON, Canada
[get directions]

Wasaga Beach is a popular tourist beach experience in south-western Ontario.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Light coloured, comfortable swim wear is a must at the beach.Wearing flip flops on the beach keeps feet cool from the hot sand.Beach chairs make relaxing and watching the kids play a comfortable experience.
Light coloured, comfortable swim wear is a must at the beach.
Light coloured, comfortable swim wear is a must at the beach. | Source
Wearing flip flops on the beach keeps feet cool from the hot sand.
Wearing flip flops on the beach keeps feet cool from the hot sand. | Source
Beach chairs make relaxing and watching the kids play a comfortable experience.
Beach chairs make relaxing and watching the kids play a comfortable experience. | Source

Tips and Warnings for a Great Beach Experience

  1. Heed all posted warnings at the entrance to the beach. Health warnings concerning bacterial contamination are posted at most public beaches. If there is a warning of possible E-coli contamination, post-pone your visit for another day.
  2. Keep valuables at home or locked in a low visibility area of your car. Sun and sand can ruin valuables and theft is a very real possibility while you are swimming.
  3. Seek medical attention if you or one of your party becomes dizzy or nauseated.

Clothing and Equipment for A Great Beach Experience

  1. Pick an appropriate beach and day and time of week to visit your destination. Popular beaches tend to be busiest on the weekends when local residents are off work and are most likely to attend. We have had the best luck visiting our favourite Sarnia beach during the week in the late morning or early afternoon. Late afternoons tend to become busier as residents finish work and come for some after work relaxation.
  2. Determine ahead of time what you will need and use a bag of appropriate size. You don't want to lug more than you have to as parking may be a distance from the beach area.
  3. Try to purchase comfortable swim wear for all members of your party that fit comfortably. Light colours tend to absorb less heat.
  4. Each person should bring their own beach towel. This may be obvious but we have had situations where one was forgotten. Each child and adult needs their own space to lay out in the sun after swimming to dry off and relax.
  5. Bring an extra set of clothes to change into afterwards. If there is a change area available wet car seats and extra sand in the vehicle can be avoided by removing swim wear prior to leaving the beach. This last point is extremely important if you have young children who tend to be covered from head to foot in a generous coating of sand!
  6. Bring flip flops or water shoes. For young children, it will protect them from cutting their feet on sharp shells or the occasional piece of glass sometimes left behind from less careful visitors.
  7. Bring beach chairs for mom and dad especially as it makes it more comfortable for you to sit and watch your kids while they frolic in the surf!
  8. Bring a large towel or blanket, thin enough to pack easily in your beach bag. It is great for minimizing sand build up on your beach supplies.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sunscreen for protection against damaging UV rays.Beach umbrellas provide welcome shade from the hot sun.Beach umbrellas everywhere!Sunglasses protect the eyes from damaging "UV light.
Sunscreen for protection against damaging UV rays.
Sunscreen for protection against damaging UV rays. | Source
Beach umbrellas provide welcome shade from the hot sun.
Beach umbrellas provide welcome shade from the hot sun. | Source
Beach umbrellas everywhere!
Beach umbrellas everywhere! | Source
Sunglasses protect the eyes from damaging "UV light.
Sunglasses protect the eyes from damaging "UV light. | Source

Sun Protection for a Great Beach Experience

  1. Sunglasses with UV protection and useful for all group members to protect eyes from glaring sunlight and UV damage.
  2. Bring lots of sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater. Sunburns after a day at the beach will ruin your day whether it is you or your kids suffering. Skin cancer is a real concern with a weakened ozone layer so frequent applications are required. Always reapply sunscreen after swimming.
  3. Chapstick with SPF is also handy to prevent chapped lips.
  4. Bring a large beach umbrella with a handle that can anchored in the sand. It will provide much needed protection from the heat of a sunny day.
  5. A wide brim hat for all party members is recommended for out of surf wear. Later head aches from the sun beating down on the top of the head can be eliminated by the use of a good sun hat.

What are your Beach Intentions this Year?

Are you planning on hitting the beach this summer or winter?

See results without voting

Snacks and Refreshments for a Safe Beach Experience

  1. Pack a cooler with lots of water in refillable water bottles. Dehydration on the beach is a real hazard when the day is clear and sunny. Juice and other beverages are also a good idea for kids. Drink lots of fluids during your stay at the beach, especially on a very hot, sunny day.
  2. Pack a picnic lunch with sandwiches, crackers, fruit and other light snacks. Heavy food will not sit well on the stomach on a hot, sunny day. Cramping can be an issue if too much and too heavy food is eaten right before vigorous swimming.

Fun at the Beach

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Its always fun to bury your brother in sand at the beach.Building sandcastles at the beach.Building Inukshuks with local stones is also lots of fun.Floating and playing in inflatable tubes is a wonderful experience.  Waves make it even more fun!
Its always fun to bury your brother in sand at the beach.
Its always fun to bury your brother in sand at the beach. | Source
Building sandcastles at the beach.
Building sandcastles at the beach. | Source
Building Inukshuks with local stones is also lots of fun.
Building Inukshuks with local stones is also lots of fun. | Source
Floating and playing in inflatable tubes is a wonderful experience.  Waves make it even more fun!
Floating and playing in inflatable tubes is a wonderful experience. Waves make it even more fun! | Source

Beach Amusements and Recreation

  1. Sports equipment like Frisbees and footballs are a great choice with older kids to keep them occupied when not swimming or sunbathing.
  2. Pails and shovels are great diversions for kids of all ages. Sandcastles are always fun to make! Pails are also great containers to contain treasures such as shells, pretty rocks and beach glass found along the shore. Its also a great diversion to bury one of your brothers in the sand.
  3. A portable music player is great for older kids or adults. Earphones are recommended if the beach is busy so as not to offend the neighbours.
  4. For in the water fun, inflatable plastic tubes and animals make great floatation devices although not a substitute for life jackets.
  5. Life jackets are highly recommended for the very young and non swimmers in your group.

More by this Author


Comments 4 comments

Doc Sonic profile image

Doc Sonic 4 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

You're obviously a very experienced beach-goer. This is a really well-thought out and helpful list.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Doc. There's nothing better than visiting home and sharing your favourite beach experiences years later with your own kids. I grew up on the beaches of Lake Huron and have been thrilled to share the experience annually with my own kids as they've grown. Even as teenagers they don't like to miss their beach time in Sarnia. But the same advice and tips apply to beach travel everywhere and I'm so glad you found the ideas helpful!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

A very thorough and helpful list. My three sons are in their early thirties now, but my brother's wife and I used to take my three and her three children for a week at the beach at St. Simon's in Georgia. We probably did that for ten summers and it was great. By the last few years we were better at planning and packing, but we never smart enough to simply make a comprehenesive list. Great Hub. :) Sharing.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks phdast7. Yes, this list also came from many years of beach visits. We still go although I can't always take all three of my sons as the older ones are sometimes working but it is helpful to be prepared no matter what ages you or your kids. Glad you enjoyed the hub, hope it brought back some pleasant memories!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working