Two months ago, faced with having to move out of the house we rented in Metairie for the last 7 years, our family decided to make a huge move and head east to Pensacola. There were many reasons for this move and being close to the beach was one of them. Two months of visiting the beach on a weekly basis has taught me a few lessons. If you’re heading to the beach on vacation or on a day trip this summer, here are nine tips for to make your next beach vacation fun and memorable.
SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN
I can’t stress this enough. Buy all the sunscreen, ALL OF IT. Put it on 30 minutes before you walk out your condo or hotel room. Then set your timer for 30 minutes and reapply it every 30 minutes. Yes, I know the bottle says it last an hour + in the water but trust me on this one, it doesn’t.
If I was you I wouldn’t waste my money on the sprays. With the sprays I ALWAYS miss a spot that burns to a crisp,without realizing it. Not to mention it blows away with the wind and you don’t get an even application. We’re going back to old school lotion as soon as my current stash is used up.
FIND SOME SHADE
You’re going to need to find some shade. The sun is draining and it’s HOT. Shade is a must. Most resorts have vendors you can rent and umbrella and chairs from. If not, do yourself a favor and buy an umbrella or two. We got a 10×10 tent and it’s the best thing ever for the beach (check your resort and local ordinances for allowable tent sizes).
Don’t forget something to sit on because the sand is HOT! I haven’t found the perfect beach chair yet, but I’m in love with this beach blanket, the sand shakes right off and it folds up neatly for storage.
DON’T BUY ALL THE TOYS
You don’t need 50 inflatables or a million beach toys to have fun at the beach. A few toys and a body board can create hours of beach fun for kids. My kids spend hours riding the waves on their boogie boards. If you are staying in Navarre Beach, the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center even has a borrow bin where visitors can borrow toys to play with on the beach. How cool is that? If you do buy all the toys, please take them home with you or consider donating them to the conservation center when you are done.
PROTECT THE WILDLIFE
One of the biggest things I have learned about living by the beach is that people are very passionate about protecting the wildlife. A few things you can do to help:
- Leave no trace. Clean up after yourself, take all trash back with you and deposit it in the nearest dumpster. This includes straws, cans, toys, cigarette butts. Everything. The only thing you should leave behind are your footprints.
- Fill in any holes you dig so that wildlife such as nesting sea turtles won’t get trapped in them.
- Stay off the sand dunes, follow the speed limits in nesting areas, don’t pick the sea oats, and leave turtle and bird nests alone.
- If you are staying in a beach front condo, turn off the outside lights at night and close the curtains.
All these things are really simple and we can all do our part to help protect the various wildlife that inhabits the beaches we love.
This is a big thing. The beach can be fun and relaxing but open water is always dangerous.
- If your child can’t swim well invest in a Puddle Jumper or Life Jacket for them.
- Stay near your child at all times.
- Know what drowning looks like.
- Keep an eye on older kids even if you think they can swim (swimming in a pool and swimming in open water are completely different skills)
- Know what a riptide is and how to get out of one
- Know what the flags mean
A WAGON IS YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
You’ve got your beach bag, shade, the kids gear, an ice chest. You need a way to haul it all to the beach. Investing in a wagon to tote all our stuff from the car to the beach was one of the best investments I have made. Bonus: you can use the wagon for Mardi Gras parades!
GO WHERE THE PEOPLE AREN’T
I am personally not a fan of crowds, so a crowded beach is like my nightmare. So I try to find places where the people aren’t. My favorite spot to visit when we used to vacation at the beach was Navarre Beach. We’ve used Navarre Beach Properties multiple times and have been happy each time. Another out of the way spot it Perdido Key. However, if you really want a beach that isn’t crowded, I suggest paying the fee for Gulf Islands National Seashore. It’s worth the $20 for seven days, or the $40 a year. This has quickly become our favorite spot on the Gulf Coast.
WEAR THE SWIMSUIT
I get it, as moms and as women, wearing a swim suit is hard. It’s painful and we all hate it. But wear it away. Most people don’t care and won’t stare at you or even notice. And at the end of the day we all look like hot messes and have sand in places sand should never be. I got this swim suit and this one from Amazon. They didn’t cost an arm and a leg and they fit great.
I also suggest grabbing one of these foldable drying racks for bathing suits and towels, they can fit in the bathroom of most condos, out of the way and you have a place to dry your wet clothes.
CAPTURE THE MEMORIES
Being a photographer means I take my camera almost everywhere. My children have joked they will have the most documented childhood in history. Don’t forget to capture the memories made at the beach. I’ve never regretted taking too many photos.