This summer we have been to Pfeiffer Beach, Monterey Bay, Asilomar Beach, Natural Bridges State Beach, Big Basin Redwood Beach, Pescadero Beach, Sand Harbor Beach, Burnt Cedar Beach, and Moss Beach. Now that summer is ending, I finally compiled a list of essentials to make beach day with kids a breeze. My timing is impeccable.
I prefer to keep things simple because I am usually carrying a 30-pound child and can't carry much else. As a result this list includes fourteen items that can be easily carried by two adults in one trip from car to beach. I suppose it could also done by one adult if said adult is really strong, determined, and unhinged. Initially nine items, this checklist took me several hours to complete because every time I stepped away from it I thought of something else to add. Well, here it goes...
OK, this truly is an essential. I usually bring a cream for body and a stick for face and quick touch ups. Badger Balm SPF 30 Kids Sunscreen Cream is one of the highest-rated sunscreens on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) list for its low health concern. It is certified natural, using zinc oxide as a blocker and aloe vera as its base for easy application. TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30+ Sunscreen won the Red Tricycle "Most Awesome" award based on the votes of thousands of families nationwide 2 years in a row. It also was named one of the best and safest sunscreens available with the highest rating for any kid's line by the EWG.
2. HAND WIPES
Clean Well All-Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipes need no explanation if you have kids.
Sun protection again. I have been buying the Patagonia Baby Sun Bucket Hat for Amelia as she has grown from one size to another. It is reversible and I like having two options in one. There is at least one color/print combination that I like every season. It is water resistant, dries quickly, and the chin strap keeps it in place. For myself I am really digging a $9 wide-brimmed straw hat that I just bought at Raley's in Lake Tahoe when I realized I forgot my hat at home.
4. RASH GUARD
Even more sun protection. To be honest I like rash guards because it's easier to put on and take off than sunblock. J. Crew's Girls' Mara Hoffman Rash Guards are extra stylish for littles. They are also available in grown up sizes for some mommy-and-me action. If you've seen my Insta, you know I dig that.
5. WATER SHOES
Teva Kids Original Universal Sandals are easy to put on, sturdier than flip flops, does not slide off, and prevents water and sand from pooling. They're great not only for the beach but also for hikes. These have come in handy at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and Big Basin Redwood, where there are both beach and trails.
6. BABY POWDER
We use this at the end, right before getting back in the car. Country Comfort Baby Powder makes quick work of sand sticking on legs and feet.
7. MUSLIN BLANKETS
Instead of towels I bring Amelia's old Aden + Anais Classic Muslin Swaddle Blankets. They are perfect for the beach because they are made of muslin, lightweight, compact, breathable, super soft and dries quickly. I love these as gifts for new parents because they can be repurposed in many ways and for many years. I've used ours in the car, on flights, and every vacation.
8. BIG BASKET
I love my handwoven African baskets. I have a giant one which is my go-to beach bag with its open top and room for wallet, phone, sunglasses, sunblock, wipes, powder, swimsuits, change of clothes, towels, empty wet bag, water bottles, and snacks. It is super sturdy, comes in pretty colors, have nice leather handles, and does not collect sand. I got mine randomly from "Mary the Basket Lady" at a farmer's market in San Francisco. You can find similar ones from Bolga Baskets.
9. WATER BOTTLES
For Amelia I pack her Lifefactory 12 Ounce Glass Bottle with Flip Cap, which I got way back when she was still bottle feeding. I just replaced the cap. They still work and look great. Last year I picked up Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mugs in Japan and they do a great job of keeping contents cold for hours. The Swell Bottle in Teakwood was a gift and I love its sleek, grownup look. I have a shelf full of water bottles in my tiny kitchen but that doesn't stop me from swooning over this pretty BKR Bottle. This possibly qualifies for a mental disorder.
There is no hot food and it is not exactly a meal, but it is just enough to keep kids from complaining of hunger for a few hours.
11. MINI COOLER
Our Stanley Adventure Cooler is more of a lunch box than a cooler because of its size and I like that way. It's nice for keeping fruits and yogurt cold when the sun is beating down. Dry food and water go in the basket.
12. WET BAG
Flight 001 Go Clean Wet Suit Bag holds wet swimsuits, rash guards, and even toddler accident casualties (in case that every happens to you).
13. SAND TOYS
It's amazing how a bucket and shovel can keep a kid occupied all day at the beach. We usually bring Amelia's Green Toys Sand Play Set and also her old baby toy My First Green Toys Stacking Cups for building sandcastles. If you are taking multiple kids to the beach, make sure you have a shovel for each. They will all want to play with shovel at the same time. True story.
14. BEACH TENT
This is the newest and largest addition to my beach list. I used to feel tents are high maintenance and never understood why people brought them to the beach. With kids I can see how it would be helpful especially for all-day beach days. I wanted one that looked more organic and not so tent-y and technical, but the convenience factor was a key consideration. I ended up picking this Coleman Compact Shade Shelter, which comes with SPF, sandbags, stakes, and a dry line. The floor mat saves me from having to bring extra blankets.
I'm still on the fence about beach chairs even though my sister assures me they're necessities. Bringing chairs (furniture!) to the beach sounds like crazy town but what do I know? They are not included in the list until I can find pretty, packable, lightweight ones. We'll see...Well now that I have this list I must go to the beach one more time.
Hollaback if there are items that you think should be included in or removed from the list ;)