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?
“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”
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
Visit beautiful Prince Edward County in Ontario near Kingston and enjoy the beach as well as some amazing local wineries and artistry!
Wasaga Beach is a popular tourist beach experience in south-western Ontario.
Tips and Warnings for a Great Beach Experience
- 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.
- 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.
- Seek medical attention if you or one of your party becomes dizzy or nauseated.
Clothing and Equipment for A Great Beach Experience
- 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.
- 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.
- Try to purchase comfortable swim wear for all members of your party that fit comfortably. Light colours tend to absorb less heat.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
Sun Protection for a Great Beach Experience
- Sunglasses with UV protection and useful for all group members to protect eyes from glaring sunlight and UV damage.
- 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.
- Chapstick with SPF is also handy to prevent chapped lips.
- 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.
- 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?
Snacks and Refreshments for a Safe Beach Experience
- 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.
- 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 BeachClick thumbnail to view full-size
Beach Amusements and Recreation
- Sports equipment like Frisbees and footballs are a great choice with older kids to keep them occupied when not swimming or sunbathing.
- 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.
- 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.
- For in the water fun, inflatable plastic tubes and animals make great floatation devices although not a substitute for life jackets.
- Life jackets are highly recommended for the very young and non swimmers in your group.