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How to Have a Great Day at the Beach

Updated on September 23, 2014

Fun in the Sun

With summer comes thoughts of the beach. There's no better way to spend the day than in the sun, sand, and surf. But, just because you head off to the beach, doesn't mean you're guaranteed a great day. There's essential items to pack and tips that will help you have the best possible day at the beach.

Growing up on Lake Huron, I've spent countless summer days at the beach. There's nothing worse than getting to the beach and finding yourself unprepared. If you're close to home, it's easy to head back and grab what you need. But, if you're driving a fair distance, you want to make sure you have everything with you.

A family day trip to the water can be a cheap (or even free) way to spend time together. If you have a great experience, you'll want to keep going back over and over. Read on for some great tips on how to have a great day at the beach.

Image is Public Domain

Check the Weather

It might seem obvious, but checking the weather ahead of time is one of the most important things to do to have a great day at the beach. It's horrible to pack everything up, drive for an hour, and sit there baking in the sun or shivering in the cold. I've experienced everything from blistering heat to chilly days to weather that can turn on a dime. Remember, don't just check the temperature. That's only one small factor. You also want to consider the wind. If the temperature is perfect but the wind is strong or coming from the wrong direction, it can make for an unpleasant day.

You also want to make sure it isn't TOO hot. It might seem like a super hot day is perfect for the beach, but it really isn't. It's easy to overheat, even with the water to cool off in. Once you're too hot, it's really hard to get cool again and it can make you feel pretty sick. Ideally you want to aim for about 25 degrees Celsius or 78 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take a few degrees.

Make sure to check your weather station to see if storms are possible. In the heat of summer, thunder storms can build up and move in rapidly. You don't want to set out on what seems to be the perfect day only to have a nasty storm rain you out in the early afternoon.

The further you're going for the beach, the most important checking the weather is. If you're only driving for a half hour, you can always head out early and call it a day if things heat up too much. But if you need to drive a couple of hours, make sure you're getting the most out of your beach day.

Image by Lykaestria CC

Protect Yourself from the Sun

It's wonderful to spend all day in the sun, but you also need to take precautions. First, make sure you wear sunscreen. Even though it's a pain to put it on every few hours, espeicially if you're in the water, it really is important. There's the obvious reason of protecting yourself against skin cancer. Even if you think it can't happen to you, it definitely can. A tan really isn't worth it. Plus, sun burns are painful. If you go home with a bad burn, you'll with you'd gone through the hassle of applying sunscreen.

You should choose a sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF and is a broad spectrum sunscreen. That means it protects you against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply it every couple of hours and use a water resistant sunscreen if you're going swimming. Also, don't assume that just because you're under the water, you don't need sunscreen. The water can actually make burning worse because the sun reflects off of it. I have a friend who was sunburned so badly she could move after making this mistake...

Also make sure you have a hat and sunglasses, even you don't wear them the whole time. This is actually the perfect excuse to go shopping, ladies! Make sure your sunglasses have 100% UV protection, too, or you might as well not bother.

It might seem silly, but it's a good idea to bring a big beach umbrella or a beach tent with you. The sun can be intense, especially in the middle of the afternoon, and it's really great to have some relief from it. Sun poisoning is not fun at all, and you can get it even if you're wearing sunscreen and you're in the water keeping cool. The beach we go always has lots of people with these umbrellas, so you won't look strange or out of place. You might even inspire someone else to get one. Alternatively, if you know your beach has lots of trees, try to get there early to snag a spot in the shade. You can still bring your towel or chair down to the sunny spots, but this way you'll have an escape from the sun when you need one.

Sun Protection

SKLZ Super-Brella-Blue
SKLZ Super-Brella-Blue

This is a fantastic umbrella to protect you from the sun. It's the same one we have and it works great. You can set it up in just a few minutes and it's secure. 2-3 people can fit under it and you can also keep your cooler safe in the shade.

 
Neutrogena Age Shield Face Oil-Free Lotion Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 110, 3 Fl. Oz.
Neutrogena Age Shield Face Oil-Free Lotion Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 110, 3 Fl. Oz.

This is a great sunscreen if you don't want that greasy feel. It's a bit more expensive, but it's worth it. You can also get this sunscreen just for your face, then use a different one for everything else. Then, your face feels oil free but you don't spent a fortune.

 

Bring Lots of Snacks

Most public beaches have a snack stand or somewhere close to eat, but these places are always way overpriced. You definitely need food at the beach. Even if you're planning to eat lunch at a restaurant, you'll need snacks. It's easy to work up an appetite, especially in the water. There's something about spending the day in the lake or ocean that just makes you hungry! If you want to enjoy your day at the beach as much as possible, bring a cooler with lots of snacks. Some easy options are grapes, berries or other fruits, crackers, cheese, cut up veggies, and hard boiled eggs.

Also, bring LOTS of water. If it's a hot day, you need to drink a lot to stay hydrated. If you don't drink enough water, you'll end up feeling washed out and probably a bit sick. This means you won't enjoy your day very much by the end. You should bring a liter of water per person if you're staying for the whole day (or make sure there's a place to fill up your water bottle throughout the day). Even if you're not thirsty, you still need to drink.

Image by Amraepowell CC

Coleman 48 Quart Performance Cooler Holds 63 Cans, Blue
Coleman 48 Quart Performance Cooler Holds 63 Cans, Blue

Keep your snacks and water cold with a cooler. It's a great way to save money instead of going to those pricey snack shops.

 

Drink lots of water to stay hydrated! You'll enjoy your day more and stay healthy. You should drink at least a liter of water if you're at the beach for the whole day.

Beach Packing List

There's lots you need to bring if you want to have a great day at the beach. Of course, you'll need to tailor this list to meet your own needs, but here's a good starting point.

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Sunglasses and hat
  3. Towels (bring extra in case they get wet)
  4. Chairs (much more comfortable than towels...)
  5. Beach umbrella or tent
  6. Snacks and water (lots of water!)
  7. Beach shoes (this is mainly if there are lots of rocks or things like jellyfish)
  8. Lots of things to do for the kids (sand toys, beach ball, water toys)

Beach Towels

You don't want to forget the towels! If you're going to spend the whole day at the beach, it's a good idea to bring some extra towels. Big ones are nice for when you get out of the water and you're cold. They're also ideal for when you want to lie down on the sand and take a nap or soak up the sun.

Beach Toys for the Kids

I used to love playing in the sand or water all day. Sand toys are a key element to having a great day at the beach with the kids, and water toys are a definite bonus. They'll have hours of fun while you relax!

Do you love to go to the beach?

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    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      We used to live near the beach. I miss it!

    • Stephanie36 profile image
      Author

      Stephanie 2 years ago from Canada

      @SusanDeppner: It really is wonderful to live close by. I missed it when I was away at school.

    • profile image

      Nico 2 years ago

      We had a fantastic hoaidly at Beachside during early September. The house was equipped with everything we needed a real home from home and was spotlessly clean. The location was perfect, being right on the beach but also a short walk to shops, cafes and a pub. The footbridge across the River Adur to Shoreham town is currently being replaced, but there is a regular shuttle bus in service. Thanks, Rae we can't wait to go back! lablos

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