When I was in college, I would hop in my truck with my MP3 player (let’s not talk about how long ago this was), and drive to the beach, take off my shirt and just lay in the sand. I’m a dude–didn’t need anything else.
It was a wonderful, carefree, minimalistic experience that brought the greatest rest and relaxation.
When I got married, we had to carry a few more things than that to the beach–Alaina has a fair complexion so sunscreen and a beach umbrella were a must and also beach blanket to make sitting in the sand a little more comfortable.
At that stage of life, we would watch families lug wagons, and coolers, and tents full of stuff down to the beach and say to one another, “That will never be us! We will not do that!”
Honestly, we’re still not quite that bad, but once we had children, we came to realize that there were some essentials without which we just could not get by.
No matter how minimalistic you are, sunscreen is an absolute must! Especially in Florida! We know scores and scores of people down here who have had or do have skin cancer. The Florida sun is no joke.
If we’re being honest, though, that whitish glaze you get when you have sunscreen on your face is no fun.
For ladies, Alaina recommends this Revlon color Stay makeup with SPF protection:
For men, consider this Sun Bum tinted mineral sunscreen. It’s incredible lightweight, so I haven’t had any issues with it clogging my pores. Also, the tint matches a broad spectrum of skin tones, so you never have to look like you painted your face with clown makeup.
Obviously, you’re going to need even more protection than that across the rest of your body. I especially need something on my shoulders and upper back as that’s where I tend to burn the most, but I also like to get a tan as well, so I opt for this:
And because Alaina’s fair complexion, she doesn’t tan anyway. She typically gets the highest possible SPF protection, and we’ve found that the spray-on sunscreen is the easiest to use. This SPF 100 from Banan Boat is a great option!
We try to use even more caution with our children, so we typically also get a sunscreen which is specifically marketed for children just to be on the safe side. If you want to be minimalistic, you could probably just buy this one and use it on your whole family:
the next essential thing you need is a beach blanket. For a long time, we just used an old throw from the living room. It was too hideous to use for anything else–it was mostly brown and had rabbits woven into the pattern, and quite frankly, we would still be fine with using that blanket with no shame or embarrassment–until we started taking our children to the beach, and discovered that those little folk could just put sand everywhere, which defeated the purpose of bringing the blanket in the first place.
That’s when we started doing a little research and discovered this absolute essential water proof, sand proof blanket! The sand enters the top and just sifts right through the mesh, and the sand from the ground isn’t supposed to come back up from the beach. From experience, it doesn’t work PERFECTLY, BUT it’s definitely a far cry better than the rabbit blanket was doing for it.
As an added bonus, it comes with stakes to help keep it secured to the ground so that the wind doesn’t drive it away, and it has a nice little bag in which you can store it when you’re finished using it.
We bought our first ever beach umbrella from Walmart. It wasn’t a bad deal. It was flimsy, but held up for a pretty long time.
One time, we forgot our beach umbrella and we bought one at a store near the beach. It cost four times as much and was 10 x flimsier! We threw it away very shortly after the purchase out of necessity.
A friend gave us the really heavy-duty beach umbrella once as well. It almost looked like they stole it from a beach-side umbrella rental place. It was just impractical to carry around something that big and heavy, so it stayed in a closet at home and we never used it until we got rid of it as well.
We discovered, this, though–the Sport-Brella XL. This is amazing! It’s an umbrella, that doubles as a tent, and it’s huge and provides incredible shade, which is great for our resident red head, but you don’t have to lug a whole tent down to the beach! It even comes with a carrying case which you can strap over your shoulder, which is fantastic for whoever has to haul all of the beach paraphernalia!
Okay, and something else on our radar that we haven’t quite purchased yet, but we’re looking at is this Shibumi Shade! Which we have seen other people enjoying. You just put one pole in the ground and the wind takes care of the rest!
Next up, we talk swimwear.
For ladies, Alaina recommends this swimsuit from SUUKSESS to feel confident and comfortable at the beach.
Also, Alaina enjoys wearing kimonos for cover ups. they are light, flowing, and perfect for the pool or beach! And as you know, animal prints are Alaina’s favorite.
For men, my go-to trunks have been from Sauvage. I really appreciate that the cut is not too short, but not too long. Here are some great options form Amazon:
These rash guard swimsuits are perfect for children. they protect them from the sun and anything else that might irritate them while they are swimming! We use them both for our children, and quite frankly, they’re just so cute!
Here are just a few things every child needs for a day at the beach:
For the littles, some swim diapers!
Floaties for safety! These even come with little flamingos, or unicorns, or crabs, or plenty of other cute designs!
Sand toys. These are so trendy and there’s even a matching beach chair available!
Did we mention that the sun is brutal in Florida? Get yourself some awesome sunglasses like these from Ray Ban:
I don’t know why, but I think that wooden frames are super awesome right now, and it’s probably just a trend that will eventually go away, but I figure ride the wave in the mean time!
We hope this list helps you as you plan your next beach vacation.
Also, CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE for essential items to help you navigate any theme park situation.