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Travel destinations, beaches and attractions and things to do in Florida. Documented by RESIDENTS of Florida.

Perfect Checklist for the Beach – Ultimate Guide for Packing

Checklist for Beach
Checklist for the Beach – Did You Forget Anything? Click the Image to Download your checklist for the beach.

According to the The Center for Conservation Biology there are more than 180 million of us that make over 2 billion visits to beaches annually. Those number bespeak the popularity of getting some sand between our toes.

For most people who live near beaches or have the opportunity to go to a beach daily, you may not need this checklist for the beach. However, families, people traveling and those just beginning their lifetime of beach visits will find this beach checklist can make a more memorable experience.

Since we live on a beach, we can’t estimate the number of times we see people who obviously didn’t use some kind of reminder. Gaffs include no sunscreen (burnt bodies), little or no water (alcohol is not a substitute), no shade (resulted in a short trip), and various other forgetful disasters that caused a quicker exit from the beach.

Beaches in Florida Take the Heat for Being Brutal Sometimes

It’s true that Florida beaches can sometimes feel “brutal,” but the intensity depends on factors like the time of year, specific location, and your personal preferences.

Remember, Florida also has some of the most renowned beaches in the world. They are ranked that way for their beauty, aesthetics, water quality and accessibility.

Here’s a breakdown of some potential reasons why they might feel harsh:

Sun and Heat:

  • Sunshine and humidity: Florida boasts abundant sunshine year-round, which can be wonderful for sunbathing and outdoor activities. However, the combination of intense sun and high humidity can turn the air thick and sticky, feeling oppressive for some.
Checklist for the beach - sun with people
The sun can be intense in summer. Protect yourself where you can.
  • Peak sun hours: The midday sun (around 10 am to 4 pm) can be scorching, leading to sunburn, heat exhaustion, and discomfort. Be prepared with sunscreen, shade, and hydration during these times.

Water and Sand:

  • Strong currents and riptides: Some Florida beaches, especially on the Atlantic coast, can have strong currents and riptides, posing a safety risk for swimmers. Always be aware of posted flags and lifeguard instructions, and swim within designated areas.
  • Rough waves and surf: Certain beaches, particularly during stormy weather, might have rough waves and strong surf, making swimming more challenging and unsuitable for children or weak swimmers.
  • Hot sand: The Florida sun can heat the sand significantly, making it uncomfortable to walk on barefoot. Consider wearing sandals or water shoes while navigating the beach.

Wildlife and Environmental Factors:

  • Mosquitoes and sand flies: These pesky insects can be a nuisance, especially during dawn and dusk. Opt for insect repellent and protective clothing to minimize bites.
  • Stingrays and jellyfish: Certain areas might have stingrays or jellyfish in the water, causing potential injury. Be cautious, wear appropriate footwear, and follow local advisories.
  • Seaweed: Large amounts of seaweed can wash ashore at times, making the beach less aesthetically pleasing and potentially hindering swimming.

Remember:

  • Florida beaches offer diverse experiences. Some are calm and family-friendly, while others cater to surfers and adventurous swimmers. Choose a beach that suits your preferences and comfort level.
  • Proper preparation is key. Be sun-safe, stay hydrated, be aware of water conditions and potential hazards, and pack accordingly.
  • Adjust your expectations. Embrace the vibrant sunshine, enjoy the cool water, and focus on the unique beauty of Florida’s coastal landscapes.

By understanding these factors and taking necessary precautions, you can minimize the “brutality” and maximize the enjoyment of your Florida beach experience. Don’t hesitate to ask locals or lifeguards for advice specific to the beach you’re visiting.

checklist for the beach - suitcase packed
Packing is a breeze with our checklist for the beach.

Use this Checklist for the Beach as Your Guide Packing for a Trip to the Beach

Below is a list of 16 essential items to bring to the beach. Many are small and easily packed. We highly recommend you buy as many of these as possible before traveling. Big box stores and online shopping will be much less expensive than your destination.

things you need when flying

We have also included 12 non-essential items to pack for the beach. These are things you may want to add to make your beach experience over-the-top!

Pack for fun, safety and comfort by following our beach checklist.

Recommended Essential Items to Pack for the Beach Vacation or Day Trip

We include explanations because not all products are equal plus the conditions at the beach may exceed what you normally would expect.

Sunscreen

checklist for the beach
Find sunscreen for the beach.

Sunscreen is a crucial part of sun protection, helping to shield your skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Here are key points about sunscreen and considerations for choosing the right one:

SPF measures a sunscreen’s ability to protect your skin from UVB rays, which are responsible for causing sunburn. The higher the SPF, the greater the protection.

Dermatologists often recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 for daily use. Higher SPFs (50 or more) can provide additional protection, but the increase is marginal.

If you’ll be swimming or sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen. Remember that even water-resistant sunscreens need to be reapplied after swimming or excessive sweating. You should also consider sunscreen protection for children that is available that differs from adult versions.

Sunscreen is just one part of sun protection. Consider other measures like seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding sun exposure during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Sunglasses

When buying inexpensive sunglasses for the beach, there are several factors to consider to ensure you get both protection and value for your money. Here are some tips for selecting budget-friendly sunglasses for your beach outings:

Ensure that the sunglasses offer 100% UV protection, often labeled as UV400. This means they block both UVA and UVB rays, providing essential protection for your eyes against harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Polarized lenses help reduce glare from reflective surfaces like water and sand. While not mandatory, they can enhance visibility and comfort, especially at the beach. They are essential for seeing into the water making them perfect for fishermen.

While shopping for inexpensive sunglasses, consider brands known for offering quality at affordable prices. Research customer reviews and ratings to gauge the reliability of the brand.

Online marketplaces often offer a wide variety of affordable sunglasses. Look for customer reviews and ratings to ensure the quality of the product.

Beach Towels

When buying beach towels, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you get towels that are not only comfortable but also durable and suitable for beach use. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Look for towels made from absorbent materials like cotton or a cotton blend. Quick-drying towels are convenient for the beach environment.

Opt for a towel that is large enough for you to comfortably lie down or wrap around yourself. Standard beach towel dimensions are around 30 inches by 60 inches.

Consider the thickness or weight of the towel. Thicker towels might feel more luxurious but can take longer to dry.

Water

You must bring water for any sort of beach experience. Water keeps you hydrated and protects you from heat exhaustion and worse.

If you are coming to the beach with plenty of water and a cooler – that is perfect! There is a way to save a significant amount of money on water at the beach.

Most public beaches have bathroom facilities and water fountains. By bringing an insulated water bottle with you, you can save the cost of bottles of water.

Water can be $2-3 at the store or beach. A good water bottle can be purchased for under $10. It doesn’t take long for the savings to mount up. For a family, it is a substantial amount.

Beach Bag 

Most of the essential items we recommend can easily fit in a well-constructed beach bag. Families may require more than one, but packing and lugging the necessities is much easier with a beach bag.

We always recommend that you have something that is waterproof along with you. You can store electronics, phones, wallets and anything that may be harmed by water (sea water or rain!).

That item can be a good waterproof beach bag, which saves you the cost of an additional item.

Beach Umbrella

packing for the beach - umbrella
Shade is a necessity for the beach.

Beach umbrellas may not seem like a necessity but sitting in the Florida sun in June will convince you a little shade is important. Yes, you can rent umbrellas at many of the public beaches in Florida and elsewhere.

The disadvantage of renting umbrellas is the long-term cost at $20-30 per day. A two-piece umbrella or a pop-up shade tent may cost you $50 or more. The long-term savings is worth it.

The other advantage of owning your own umbrella is that it can go anywhere. Find you little slice of paradise beyond the crowds.

Snacks

We have already discussed the importance of staying hydrated and keeping your body fortified is just as important.

You can purchase snacks that will hold up well in all conditions that last a long time. Fruit gummies, peanuts, protein bars, edamame beans, dried fruit and many healty drinks will provide the same lift.

Hats

Hats are imperative to protect you and your family from the sun on a day’s adventure to the beach. Sun hats are even better to keep the sun off your face and head.

We even recommend hats that can be dunked in the water and placed on your head for the cooling effect.

SPF Lip Balm 

If there is any single item on our Essential Beach Packing List that is most forgotten and most needed, it would be SPF Lip Balm.

We can count the times when people have lathered themselves with sunscreen everywhere except their lips. They end up with blistered lips that crack and ruin an otherwise great vacation.

Don’t buy any normal lip moisturizer. It must have the same protection as sunscreen. You can find a 3-pack of spf lip balm for under $10. Enough to protect the whole family.

Cover Up

That new bikini or speedo may be the latest fashionable swimsuit you can find. It may look great on the beach but be unwelcome when you decide to go across the street for lunch.

Just a simple cover-up of any kind will work. Even a super long and baggy t-shirt will serve the purpose. It may also feel good if a breeze kicks up on the beach.

Flip Flops

Of course, you want to look stylish in the latest flip-flops or water shoes. They are popular for more reasons than just a cool accessory.

Footwear is a necessity for a long day on the beach. The sand gets hot – very hot sometimes. The street you walk on may also be scorching.

Everyone loves to find a beach with tons of shells on it, but walking on a shell-laden beach can be hard on your feet particularly after they are softened up by the water.

Blanket

A beach blanket is a necessity if you are spending a lot of time on the beach. Sitting in the hot sand all day won’t be fun.

They also make beach mats that roll up and are good for the beach. However, many don’t seem as soft and easily manipulated as a big blanket.

Of course, beach chairs may take the place of the blanket if they are not difficult to carry.

Beach Cooler 

Spending a day on the beach requires some way to keep you water cool, snacks chilled and perhaps your favorite refreshment on ice. They make some very effective beach coolers today that are lightweight with exceptional insulating properties.

They also make;

  • Backpacks that are coolers with room for many other things (our favorite).
  • Beach bags that double as a cooler.
  • Coolers with big wheels and room to stack other items on top.
  • Cooler lunch totes that can serve many purposes.

Our next essential item may influence the cooler you buy.

Lowest Airfares to Florida
packing for a trip to the beach
Lays flat when collapsed.

Beach Wagon

If you have a family a beach wagon is more than a necessity – it is a requirement for the beach. A fold-up beach wagon tucked in the back of your car can haul all the things necessary for a day of family fun at the beach.

Coolers, chairs, extra clothing, lunch, beach toys and even a kid or two – they can haul it all.

Dry Bag

Some things have to stay dry. Your phone, your food, your cover-up, your wallet. They all need protection.

You can buy a waterproof beach bag or some other item that will protect your valuables from water near the beach or that sudden rain shower.

Beach Games 

We know it’s hard to believe, but people get restless and bored – even at the beach. At the top of the list of restlessness are children. Their attention spans are short.

Beach games will add a new dimension to your beach trips for the family. Simple Frisbees, ball toss, beach ball, collapsible corn hole, or even seashell tic-tac-toe will keep you from boredom.

More aggressive things like flying a kite, tossing a small football, and whiffle ball pickle ball are fun on an open beach.

These are our 16 beach packing essentials. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring some other items for fun and comfort. 

Non Essential Items To Add to the Beach Checklist

Check out some of these 12 non-essential items to bring to the beach – the links go to Amazon for comparison;

Buy Before You Leave

Once again, we want to remindchecklist for the beach - warning flags you that all of these items will be more expensive at your destination. Small beach shops can be expensive, but they are there for your convenience, not to save you money.

Check online and your major discount retailers like Walmart, Target and Costco. The biggest selection of items on our checklist for the beach will always be online.

Safety is Important on Any Beach Trip

One last thing to keep you safe on the beach. We have included the beach flags used in Florida to allow visitors quickly determine the condition of the beach.

Every year throughout the country, people die from not paying attention to beach warning signs. High winds, unusual tide patterns and certain moon phases cause big waves, riptides and dangerous surf.

Even if the water conditions are precarious, you can still enjoy the sand and sun without testing the water.

Final Thoughts on Our Checklist for the Beach

Few people dislike a trip to a Florida Beach. For many, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and others a daily activity. Either way, Florida Travel Blogs wants to make your beach day memorable.

Use this Checklist for the Beach as a guide to have fun and stay safe. Florida has hundreds of beaches for your bucket list. Plan to enjoy as many as possible.

Book your entire trip with one of these money saving partners!


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