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5 Beach Vacation Must-Haves

A woman and child sitting on the beach

Beach Vacations are easy when you live on the coast. Even my stay-cations are beach vacations! I don’t ever feel as though my summer is complete without time spent by water. Be it a glacial river to rock-pick beside, a pristine lake begging me to take a dip or the pounding surf calming me with each wave, all year I crave a sunny day by the water. Whether I am travelling to a far-away beach or sticking close-to-home, my 5 beach vacation must-haves are always the same.

A beach with grass and sand on the side.

Beach Vacation Must-Haves #1: A non-precious cross-body satchel

Once at the beach, I often head away from the spot in the sand I have carved out for myself and my family. I build sand cakes with my toddler at the water’s edge or hunt for crabs under the bigger barnacle-covered rocks. It is vital to have a spot to keep my wallet and keys with me. That way I’m not constantly thinking about theft from my beach blanket while I’m wandering. This spot must allow for quick access to my camera but it also must be a spot to stuff my daughter’s discarded hoodie. I love a wide strap for comfort on bare shoulders and the satchel must be made of a non-precious material that will stand up to sandy conditions. My current favourite is a Feed Project bag made from burlap with a bright neon woven strap. Perfect to complete any beach-going ensemble.

A woman and child climbing up the stairs.

photo: Juan Arnold

A bag that is made out of coffee bags.

A black and white striped purse with a strap.

kate spade


Beach Vacation Must-Haves #2: A big, crushable hat

I love my authentic straw Panama Hat and I have worn it through many summers. It provides great shade and I like the style it adds to any old thing I throw on. The problem with it is that you cannot stuff it in your cross-body satchel when you duck into a store or when you lie down on your beach blanket to watch the waves. And it certainly will not pack into your suitcase when you are travelling to your beach destination. I flew with it to Hawaii once and it became my carry-on. So awkward. It started the flight on my head but you can’t sit back in your chair when you are wearing an un-packable hat. Therefore a hat that is crushable has made my list of beach vacation must-haves. A hat is vital to your sun-survival. Bring along at least one big, crushable hat and make it part of every outfit you wear on your beach vacation.

A woman and two children sitting on the shore of a lake.

Photo: Dee Clarke
A black hat with a bow on it's side.Helen Kamanski

A straw hat with white fringes on top of it.

Eric Javits



Beach Vacation Must-Haves#3: A durable pair of flip flops

Beyond sandals, flip flops are a must for me anytime I head to the beach. Frolicking in the sand, I quickly will kick them off. But beaches often involve barnacle-covered pebbles, rough concrete sidewalks or even chunks of broken shells. Flip flops help you navigate your way to your towel and also into the public washrooms. There are some things I just don’t recommend attempting in bare feet! Flip flops can get wet with salt water and there is no worries about destroying your beautifully embellished gladiator sandals.

I put my flip flops through a lot. Please know you must pay more than $5 to get a durable pair. You don’t want to walk away from the beach on compressed foam to get your shaved ice. If that little toggle between your toes pulls out of the sole of the shoe when you are hauling your supplies to your beach picnic spot, your whole day changes.

A group of people sitting on the ground with guitars.

photo credit

A pair of black and silver flip flops.


Beach Vacation Must-Haves #4: A cover-up

While the time I spend at the beach is thoroughly relaxing, it is always very active. I’m not one to have the stamina or tolerance to lay in the sun in my swimsuit all day long. I like to briefly lounge in the breeze, do something semi-sporty like frisbee, football or bean-bag toss (yes, really) and poke around in tidal pools. Having my bathing costume on and ready-to-go is important, but so is having something to pull on over my damp suit to get on with other activities. A cover-up can provide a little extra sun protection too. I always prefer conversing with fully-clothed people when I am wearing my cover-up. When I eat, rent beach umbrellas or barter with beach-side vendors I will make use of my cover-up. A sarong or pareo makes a great beach cover, as does a chambray button-up shirt. I also love a colourful caftan, either long or short. There are so many great cover-ups to be found out there, and now during summer sales might just be the best time to buy one or two.

A woman walking on the beach in front of the ocean.

photo credit and sarong instructions
A woman in a red and blue dress
Lane Bryant
A woman wearing a white dress with black designs.

Beach Vacation Must-Haves #5: A gel polish pedicure

I played beach volleyball for several summers here on the West Coast. While regular pedicures last much longer than your average manicure (you are not using your toenails as “tools” the way you do with your fingernails), nothing ruins a pedicure faster than wriggling your toes in the sand. An afternoon of bump-set-spike on the beach court really grinds the sand on your toes (on all your parts, actually). Your polish may still be intact after a romantic moonlit walk in the sand, but the shiny finish of the top coat is gone. If you like painted toenails when you spend time in sandals, then a gel polish pedicure should be on your list of beach vacation must-haves. The gel polish costs a little more but your flawless, shiny toenails last for weeks.

A person laying on the beach with their feet in the sand.

photo credit

Dee and I would love to take you shopping during the end-of-summer sales that are going on right now. It is a great way to start planning your next beach vacation.

A woman and child sitting on the beach

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