School’s out and everyone’s ready for fun in the sun! After being in lockdown last summer, I know many families are eager to visit their local beach or travel to a beach destination for vacation!
Living in Southern California, my family goes to the beach all the time. We absolutely love it. My husband surfs, I paddle board, our kiddos dig in the sand and dip their toes in the water. Needless to say, we consider ourselves professional beach goers.
The best part about a family beach day? All the sweet memories playing in the sand and jumping over waves with your little ones!
The worse part? All the STUFF you have to haul to the beach to have a safe, cool and fun beach day. Seriously — why do kids need SO MUCH STUFF?!?! Before kids, my husband and I showed up to the beach on our bikes with two towels and a water bottle. That was it. Man… those were the days!! Nowadays, with two kids under 3 years old, we arrive to the beach with our SUV trunk full!
Let me back up a bit… When my husband and I were kidless, we’d lay in the sand watching all these families struggle hauling all their stuff to the beach, and we swore to each other we would NOT be those people! We’d cringe as we watched dads dragging wagons full of gear back and forth across the sand from their car to their spot on the beach. Moms had their arms full of babies and shoulders weighed down with packed bags. Big kids would drag bags and toys behind them. Watching them go back and forth multiple times in the hot sun looked painful. I always thought, Can’t you just make one trip? The sight itself served as birth control for a few years. We did not want to give up our simple beach days that we loved so much!
Fast forward to today… After a few disastrous beach days with kids (and painfully going back and forth to the car to drag all our stuff to the beach), we finally got it right. We are now SMART about our beach days and have all the best portable gear to keep us cool, safe and, most importantly, have FUN!
While our beach days today aren’t as simple as our lives pre-kiddos, we still love them. And, I want you to love your beach days with your family, too!! Here are my must-have product recommendations to have a great, easy beach day with your family!
SHADE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!
First and foremost, shade is a top priority for your family beach days – especially if you have little babies like us! You need a space that is cool and comfortable so your kids can get a break from the sun. I love CoolCabanas because they’re lightweight and easy to setup – even for one person! Plus, they come in a variety of colors and patterns to fit your style. Our family has the medium size in navy stripes and the large size in lemon scarletta – both feel super chic and summery!
Here’s the shade mistakes we made before getting CoolCabanas:
- Regular beach cabana – The metal frame of a regular beach cabana is SO HEAVY!! And, it takes more than one person to set up. If it’s really windy out, just forget it!
- Beach umbrella – Not enough shade for the whole family, especially if you have active kiddos! My 8-month-old is exploring and crawling, and I can’t keep her under a tiny umbrella!
- Three-sided beach tent – If it’s really sunny out with little wind, these tents can trap the air inside and get so hot! We were trying to protect ourselves from the sun but ended up sweating nonstop in the shade of this tent!
Do yourself a favor and make family cabana setup easier by getting a CoolCabana! Check out all of CoolCabanas options at http://www.coolcabanas.com!
STAY HYDRATED AND KEEP COOL!
Everyone knows YETI makes the most legit durable, high-tech equipment that can withstand all sorts of crazy outdoor adventures worthy of praise from people who live the wildest life. That being said, YETI is our go-to brand for everything we do outdoors because we know we can trust it to last a long time and, most importantly, WORK!
After a few trips to the beach with a couple soft coolers that leaked and didn’t keep our food and drinks cold enough for all day in the sun, we turned to YETI and discovered the YETI Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Cooler… It’s a backpack, y’all! GENIUS! Like, why didn’t I think of this?! Instead of lugging our former coolers on our shoulders (with all our other shoulder bags that we take to the beach), we’re now hands-free with an ergonomically designed backpack that promises superior cold-holding, a 100% leakproof zipper, a tough shell and can hold up to 20 cans of soda or beer! Get with the program and get this cooler!!
Keep your water cold all day long with YETI’s amazing Rambler Water Bottles. My favorite is the 26 oz. size with chug cap for easy drinking. I love that YETI has a Rambler Jr. for kids, too! And, as a well-deserved convenience to parents, its straw cap is leak resistant when closed and both the bottle and cap are dishwasher safe. I’m so grateful for one less kid/baby item to hand wash!!
PROTECT YOUR SKIN!
The face sunscreen made popular by celebrities and influencers now has a sunscreen for the whole family! I started using Supergoop! CC Screen years ago and fell in love with the brand for its clean ingredients, non-greasy feel and effectiveness, so I was thrilled when I found out they have a sunscreen for face and body, called PLAY, that our whole family can use. The SPF 50 formula can be used on face and body, it’s water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes and made with reef-safe, clean, cruelty-free ingredients. It also smells amazing! It comes in a spray, a lotion and a large 18 fl. oz. pump bottle for the whole family to share.
I’m also so happy that Supergoop! has developed a sunscreen safe for little babies called Sunnyscreen. It’s 100% non-nano mineral formula checks all the boxes, meaning it’s pediatrician tested, hypoallergenic, & fragrance & silicone free. Sunnyscreen comes in a spot-on sunscreen spray, stick and lotion. I personally prefer the spray for our family, because its the simplest to use on my little 8-month-old.
KEEP KIDS SAFE IN THE WATER!
Splash About’s Go Splash Swim Vest
Our toddler was gifted this Go Splash Swim Vest for his 2nd birthday, and it has been one of the best items of our summer! It has a built-in float system that helps kids learn to swim as they’re splashing around in the pool or ocean. As a former swim instructor, I love that this swim vest encourages kids to use their arms compared to other floaties that keep arms lifted. I need to note that this is NOT a lifesaving device, and you should still always monitor your child when wearing this swim vest in and around water.
One of the best things about this swim vest is that its lightweight and lays flat, so it’s packable! We brought it with us on vacation to Hawaii recently, and our toddler wore it every day! I was so thankful we packed it with us in our suitcase!
DON’T BRING THE BEACH HOME WITH YOU!
When you go to the beach, sand gets everywhere – especially when you have kids! Luckily, Tesalate has made the ULTIMATE beach towel! Made with AbsorbLite Microfiber, Tesalate’s beach towel is engineered for sand to slip off easily. It’s also ultra-absorbent, retaining up to a liter of water, and it dries in half the time as regular beach towels. I love that its compact and light, so easy to pack – no more bulky towels! Our family has two XL sized towels, which are great to lay next to each other for our whole family to spread out. The towels come in individual and XL size and a variety of beautiful designs. The regular size are $59 and XL are $99 and available at http://www.tesalate.com.
PROTECT EYES, EARS AND FACE WITH AFFORDABLE, PACKABLE SUN HATS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!
I’m embarrassed to admit that when I was younger, I often purposely left my beach hat at home simply because I didn’t have a place to pack it in my suitcase or didn’t want to have to carry it around all day. Now that I know better about the importance of protecting my skin, I refuse to step out of the house for a day in the sun without a hat. Luckily, there are so many great packable hat options out there nowadays, and tons of options can easily be found on Amazon for an affordable price!
When shopping for sun hats for your family, it’s important to find one that has a wide brim to cover your face, ears and neck. Here’s a few great packable sun hat option for the family:
For Women: FURTALK Rollup Packable Visor
I love this visor because, not only is it packable, it’s super cute! It’s especially great for really hot days when I want to wear my hair up off my neck or if I want to swim around without getting my hair wet. It’s rolls up, so it’s compact and easy to stash in your beach bag or suitcase. It comes with an adjustable velcro closure, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing the correct size!
For Men: Quicksilver Bushmaster Bucket Hat
Okay, I know bucket hats are coming back around in style, but I have to admit that its been hard for me to jump back on the trend I used to wear in the ’90s. One great thing about bucket hats, though? They’re soft, so they’re easy to pack! I like this Quicksilver option for men, because it’s wide brim will protect the back of guys’ necks – something the usual ball cap or trucker hat does not do!
For Babies: SimpliKids Wide Brim Sun Hat
Both of my babies wore this SimpliKids Wide Brim Sun Hat, which offers UPF 50+ UV ray sun protection! I love that it comes in a variety of colors to match their little swimsuits or outfits. My favorite is the white eyelet for little girls!
WIPE OFF SAND AND KEEP LITTLE HANDS CLEAN!
How is it that little kids always find the yuckiest things to get their hands into?! With all the digging in the sand at the beach, kiddos hands can get particularly yucky! And that sand sticks! To clean little hands, I’m really excited about this new brand of wipes called Yipes! because they were developed to help foster a culture of hygiene while making it fun and approachable with their mascot, Yolanda the Yipes! Yak. They even created a kids’ board book about hygiene featuring Yolanda! And, it’s a product that parents can feel good about while being 94% biodegradable and made with 99% plant-derived ingredients. Yipes! are available in large canisters, as well as in individual, easy-to-use pocket-sized sachets (sold in pouches of 12), which are ideal for on-the-go—perfect for lunch boxes and beach trips! Find them at http://www.YipesWipes.com.
Here are some other important tips when taking your family to the beach:
- Go early! Don’t wait until high noon when the sun is at its strongest. Plus, the earlier you go, the the less crowded it will be, so you’ll have an easier time finding parking and a great spot in the sand. Early evening also is a nice time to go for same reasons.
- Don’t skimp on water. We always bring more water than we think we’ll need. And, we typically end up drinking all of it!
- Snacks, snacks, snacks! There’s something about being near water that makes kids (and grown-ups!) extra hungry! Make sure you have enough to go around!
- Be wary of the ocean, as most waves may not be manageable for little children. Our family is very familiar with SoCal beaches, so we know what to expect with our waves. I recommend watching the ocean for its wave size and take time to understand the strength of the undertow and which direction the current is going.
- Appropriate shoes! On hot summer days, the sand can get really hot! I recommend buying water shoes so your little ones can run around without burning their feet. Sandals and flip flops are too challenging for little kids to keep on their feet in the sand.
- Bring some fun beach toys that encourage exploration! For my kids’ ages (an almost 3 year old and 8 month old), we stick to toys that can be used to play on the sand rather than the water. We put all the toys inside one large sand bucket to make carrying them manageable. A blow up beach ball is also a great idea, because its inflatable which makes it easy to pack.
- Apply sunscreen BEFORE you go to the beach. Little ones get too excited once they arrive to the beach to slow down and put on sunscreen. Plus, you risk giving them an accidental exfoliating massage, because they’re likely to get sand all over them immediately!
- Remove sticky sand with baby powder. If you don’t want to take your baby into the ocean or under the public showers to rinse off sand, sprinkling baby powder on their skin and hair removes moisture and helps sand dust off easily.
Do you have any questions or additional family beach day tips? Let me know in the comments below, or follow me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love.