Having grown up two stoplights from the ocean, I consider myself a beach-going expert. You’d be hard pressed to find me feeding the sea-rats (I mean, sea-gulls) because it’s absolutely not “cute” to watch them eat your Doritos. (Know what is extra not-cute? Getting pooped on. Or having your entire sandwich snatched from your sandy drunk paw by a bird. This isn’t a Hitchcock movie; stop feeding the damn gulls!).
Having spent countless afternoons putting off homework to bronze in white sand throughout my high school years, and outright skipping classes to drive a half hour to Cocoa beach during college, I’m a virtual pro at packing a beach bag. The key is to ensure you have the necessary essentials to survive peak tanning hours without needing a bell hop to lug it all to the perfect spot.
- Giant tote bag to hold all your crap. Okay, confession: my actual beach accompaniments are hardly this perfectly coordinated. My favorite beach bag is a giant floral denim sack-bag that my mom made me out of a pair of vintage jeans. It’s great because it’s washable and holds three big towels. Either way, a big tote bag is key. Bonus for a bold color that’s easy for friends to spot on the shore.
- Which brings me to… A big towel. Depending on what my plans are for that day (am I just bronzing due to cold water temps? Am I day-drinking and going to go swimming? Am I going to be with a big group?) I adjust my towel situation a bit. Always add an extra if you plan on swimming, because have you ever tried to dry off with a sandy towel? They say exfoliation is good for your skin but I’m thinking that’s not the right way to go about it. If I’m going to be with a group, I’ll opt for a Mexican blanket like these adorable Gunn&Swain ones, or even an old flat bed sheet.
- I always wear a cover up that I wouldn’t be embarrassed being in non-beach public in. You don’t want to be shivering in the refrigerated section of a grocery store 20 minutes from the beach while your friends buy beer in just a bikini and a sheer kimono. I usually prefer a longer tunic or tank top and denim cutoffs because I can pass the loose tank off as a cover-up dress and just add shorts if pants happen to be necessary. (Side note: I hate when pants are necessary).
- As a Floridian, it’s easy to spot the tourists just by looking at their shoes. Out of state beach-goers are usually wearing sandals, but they’re usually those $1 Old Navy plastic flip flops. Sand + saltwater + walking any distance + rubber flip flops = unhappy feet. I swear by Rainbow sandals and, more recently, Kino sandals. Unless you’re beaching in the Keys, Kinos are probably not available to you, but once you break in a pair of Rainbows, they will become your most loved flip flop for sure.
- Finally, a water-resistant Bluetooth speaker will provide the soundtrack to your seaside day. I recommend a Slightly Stoopid or The Expendables Spotify playlist to take it to the next level.
Of course, I hope you’re wearing your swimsuit, sunnies, and have a water and tanning oil with SPF on hand to achieve maximum bronze-Goddess status.