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Beach fun, Southern California style

Updated on December 4, 2014

Can we go to the beach? Can we, can we?

It's warm. The water at the beach is still cold but not cold enough to keep the kids out. The beach toys have worked their way out of the bedroom and are showing up in the kitchen and the family room. You ask why these are in the way. The kids will say that they are just looking at them. Why can't they look at them in their rooms? It's time to go to the beach.

My sister-in-law's first trip to the beach. We had a wonderful day.

Growing up at the beach

I am an "older" person who has spent all of my life in Southern California with most of my free time at the beach. I love to swim in the ocean and am one of those who still gets in trouble for being beyond the breakers. We leave nothing to chance when we go to the beach and have separate supplies packed away, ready for our trips. And yes, it's still winter here but the boogie board has left the bedroom in anticipation of the rain going away and beach weather just around the corner. We have many choices for beaches, all within an hour from home. We like Huntington Beach and Oceanside. They are the most open areas with the least traffic (if you can call it that). I know that my child is anxious but I don't think that he wants to go as much as I do.

2012 - The water is still cold in July but that doesn't keep the boy out. He comes out to warm up and this is right back in.

Check out the beach before you leave home

Check out the conditions at the Huntington Beach Pier, what happening at Venice Beach or what's going on a Laguna Beach with these webcam views.

We have other uses for these cams. It will be 100 degrees Fahrenheit here all week. We will be going to the beach. I check all the beach cams, including these three to see which is less crowded. It can be 100 here and much cooler at the beach with overcast skies. This way, I can pick and choose before I ever make the hour trip.

Boogie Board

BZ T-10 Dow Body Board (42-Inch, Colors May Vary)
BZ T-10 Dow Body Board (42-Inch, Colors May Vary)

Most beaches have boggie boards for rent. This is a great option for a one-time trip to the beach but if you are planning several trips, it is cheaper to buy your own. This is a great board and one that we use. However, our child is older and so the larger board is better. Check out the smaller boards for smaller children. It does make a difference.


Beach Etiquette

The pictures of lovely uncrowded beaches that people see is not what you will find on Southern California beaches. I love the beach and always have but we all share the same places. I have spent more years there than most people are old and have learned how to enjoy the beach with the crowds and still enjoy my time.

A brand new boggie board is another reason to go to the beach. Unfortunately, lots of kids have them too. The public beaches in Southern California are generally wall-to-wall people. Even with school in session, the beaches are crowded. The reason that the beaches are so crowded is the year round sun and mild weather.

On an extremely busy day, you might be able to work in a two-foot space around your area. Small children wandering around might invade that space as well. With so many people wanting to take advantage of the sun and the surf, it means that the space is shared.

Great day for the Beach

This picture is really a surprise when it looks the boy is all alone at the ocean. I will probably never get a shot of him alone in the water again. It's pretty cool.

Must haves for the beach

  • Sunscreen - lots and lots, SPF 30 or more
  • Towels - some for sitting on but save a couple for drying off after you wash the sand off. Once you get sand on a damp towel, you are just rubbing sand into your skin.
  • A chair - Sitting on the sand gets old. Bring a chair that is comfortable.
  • Shade structure - An umbrella works, a shade structure is better.
  • Ice chest with food - Snacks are great but swimming and running and jumping and digging and burying people makes you hungry. Bring real food that gives back the energy that all these activities take away.
  • If you are going to barbecue on the beach, bring the tools you need. It's hard to flip burgers without a spatula.
  • Change - Many beaches have parking lots that require you to buy tickets. Some have parking meter and like Huntington Beach, you pay as you enter. The best way to deal with the different payment options is to bring dollar bills and quarters which will cover you for all the different ways to pay.

Coleman Beach Shade, Green
Coleman Beach Shade, Green

These have become very popular. Not only does it protect from the sun, it also blocks the wind which can sometime be a problem. There is no need to chase and umbrella. Setup is easy and it's lightweight. For someone like me who always leaves sunburned, even with protection, it's necessary.


Oceanside Pier

Rash Guard

Hyperflex Loose Fit Short Sleeve Rash Guard, Large, Black
Hyperflex Loose Fit Short Sleeve Rash Guard, Large, Black

We don't go to the beach without a rash guard. These shirts, along with protecting the upper body when boggie boarding or body surfing, also prevent the nasty sunburns that we all seem to get at the beach. Tee shirts also protect but these are even better. Even at my larger size, I do not go without the shirt.


Even I wear the rash guard shirt!

Water Sports

Boggie boarding and surfing is found all up and down the coast.

You can call it Body Boarding but it will always be Boggie Boarding to those of us who are old enough to remember when it started. We have passed on the tradition and now my grandson is the one who rides the waves on the boogie board.

The video, Body Board Extreme are some of the most “awesome” wipeouts I’ve seen.

Teaching children to boggie board

A boogie board is a rectangular foam board that can be found in many colors and sizes. Tom Morey popularized the sport in 1971 when he created and mass-produced the "Morey Boogie Board".

Children pick it up quickly and learn to ride waves in one day. Professional bodyboarders do tricks and flips and compete in contests held by the USBA (United States Bodyboarding Association).

Start children on dry land. Have them lay face down on the board. The head needs to extend beyond the board. The hands should grip the top corner of the board and the elbows should stay on the board.

Once they are comfortable and understand the position on the board, head for the water. When the water is knee high, have them practice floating on the board. This will give them a feel for where they need to balance.

When they can balance on the board, the waves will start calling them. Parental approval for the depth of the water will need to be determined. Small waves that break close to the shore are the best place to start. Attach the leash to the wrist. Some bodyboarder's attach the leach to the upper arm but the wrist is safer for children.

Children should be able to swim if they plan to venture further out. They also need to be aware that they will wipe-out.

The best way to catch a wave is to watch for those that are just getting ready to break. Start paddling and kicking to be just in front of the breaking water. As it breaks, it will propel them through the water. If a secondary wave breaks, it can carry them all the way to the beach.

Beach safety is important. Have them practice steering the board. This is done by leaning in the direction they want to go. They will need to avoid the smaller children playing at the waters edge. If they need to stop their forward movement, they can simply fall off the board.

Once they have it down, good luck getting them out of the water!

The best beaches for children

Huntington Beach, Bolsa Chica and some of the other beaches in Oceanside are not always considered the best beaches for smaller children. However, here is a list of those that have very little wave action where the smaller ones will not continue to be knocked down by the surf.

The three beaches best known for no waves are in Marina del Rey, Long Beach and Huntington Beach. Known as Mother’s Beach, they do not have waves that will knock the little ones down. All of them have playgrounds for the children who would prefer not to be in the water.

Marina beach in Marina del Rey is part of the lagoon. Children can splash around in the water or play on the playground. The beach is staffed with lifeguards and there is a separate picnic area.

Mother's Beach in Long Beach offers a sheltered cove with little or no wave activity. It is great for the children who are not ready for waves but enjoy a little of the energy of the surf. They have a playground area with the feature being a whale that shoots water. They have a shady grassy area with picnic tables.

One of the less well-known Mother’s Beaches is on Humboldt Island. Humboldt Island is one of the five man-made islands in the Huntington Harbor. Parents come there to enjoy the peaceful surrounds while watching their children splash around in the water.

For the slightly older, more adventurous children, Oceanside has several beaches that will appeal to them. The Pier View South is a very popular beach and often crowded. However, surfers are only allowed within the flagged area and the surf is big enough for the older kids who are adventurous enough to want to boggie board.

Comments welcomed

Now days we hit the beach about twice a month in the summer and at least once a month during the rest of the year. We have had to replace last years boogie board and the boy keeps outgrowing the swimming trunks. Board shorts are in and helpful when gliding along on the board to keep the sand from creating scratches. We love our beaches, crowded or not.


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    • LotusLandry profile image


      7 years ago from Southern California

      nice practical advice!

      from /houseguests-in-the-oc

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 

      7 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      I want to go to the beach now!

    • justholidays profile image


      7 years ago

      Hey there :)

      I'm the angel in the summer fun neighbourhood and I was attracted by this lens as I live overseas and will certainly never make it to Southern California, lol.

      I profit from Squidoo to discover areas I've never seen and will never see, so although I find the info quite extensive, I'm a bit upset as I haven't seen a lot of pictures of this area that is certainly beautiful...

      Food for thought, then ;)


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I live in Southwest Florida and I still haven't been able to go in the water! I can't wait!! I love the beach and I love the ocean!!


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