Three years ago, faced with moving 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 weekly have taught me a few lessons. If you're heading to the beach on vacation or a day trip this summer, here are 10 tips 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.
Please put it on 30 minutes before you walk out of 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 lasts an hour + in the water, but trust me on this one, it doesn't.
If I were 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. The shade is a must.
We got a 10×10 popup 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!
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 bodyboard can create hours of beach fun for kids. My kids spend hours riding the waves on their boogie boards.
If you stay 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 wildlife. A few things you can do to help:
- Leave no trace. Please 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 is 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 dunes, follow the speed limits in nesting areas, don't pick the sea oats, and leave turtle and bird nests alone.
- If you stay in a beachfront condo, turn off the outside lights at night and close the curtains.
All these things are straightforward, 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. It would help if you had a way to haul it all to the beach.
Investing in a beach 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.
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 $25 for seven days, or the $45 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 swimsuit 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 also suggest grabbing a foldable drying rack 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.
While the beaches will be open in Escambia county starting May 1, 2020, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key beach are open from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset for normal activities. Groups of no more than 10 are allowed, and you must maintain a social distance of 6 ft apart from those that don't live in your immediate household.
Have fun and stay safe!