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16 Beach Day Travel Essentials to Beat the Heat

16 Beach Day Travel Essentials to Beat the Heat

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Beach days are the best days. But in order for them to be so, it requires a little planning and prep. And you can take it from me. I’ve been hitting the gorgeous beaches in my home state of Florida from sea to shining sea for more than 27 years now. So, I know a thing or two about coming prepared to make sure you can make it till that green flash flickers on the horizon at sunset over the Gulf of Mexico or be first in and last out on an East Coast wave at a great surf spot someplace like Cocoa Beach or Sebastian Inlet. 

Depending on the kind of beach day you’re after, you can pick and choose from the essentials on my list to ensure a comfy, hassle-free outing. From an easy-to-set-up sun shade and a UPF 50 rashguard to a reliable cooler backpack and a trusty wagon, these beach gear must-haves will surely come in handy for making the most of the fun, and guarantee that setting up in the sand for an all-day beach trip is a breeze. Hurry, summer won’t last forever; keep scrolling to explore the game-changing accessories I never head to the beach without (pro tip: whatever you do, don’t forget to slather everyone in your party up in reef-safe sunscreen and pack plenty of cold drinks).

Costa del Mar Pescador Polarized Sunglasses


Living in Florida year-round, there isn’t a day I don’t have my sunglasses either on or atop my head, waiting to be slid into use. They’re absolutely essential for a beach day of course, too. And every Floridian knows polarized lenses are the only way to go when it comes to protecting your eyes, spotting fish in the water, and making those ocean colors totally pop, too.

Earth-friendly Florida-based company Costa del Mar has been my go-to sunglasses brand for as long as I can remember, and I love that the company keeps its classic styles while constantly updating its catalog with new looks. Lately, I’ve been loving the brand’s Panga sunglasses, with green mirror lenses that look great in photos and offer a fit that works well for my wider face. 

Lazy Bunz Floating Seat and Lounger 


My most for-the-win Florida summer beach accessory for hanging out with friends in the water is the inflatable Sunchill. Picture a floating water hammock that a bunch of you (and even your dog; the mesh is claw-proof) can pile into to relax on the ocean or behind a boat. But on a recent beach day near Tampa with friends, I discovered a cheaper and smaller floating option to tote along for solo floating. I was the only one with my buns not in a Lazy Bunz, a pliable and durable foam float that keeps you cool in the water and bobbing like a buoy with basically no effort at all.

They come in candy-colored hues that are hard to miss and easy to spot if they float off. And, the vinyl coating makes them comfortable to sit on as well as durable in the face of chlorine, sun, salt water, and whatever other water fun you throw their way. I’m still bringing my Sunchill to the beach for bigger gatherings but if I’m going solo, this small lounger works a charm.

Roxy Women’s UPF 50 Rashguard


My baking-under-the-sun days slathered in baby oil for maximum bronzing are long gone. These days, I only beach it with full coverage from the sun in the form of a long-sleeved rash guard that does double duty by protecting my skin from irritating sand grains when I boogie board or surf with my young kids. This rashguard from Roxy comes in a slew of solid colors to match any bikini bottoms, and has a flattering look, nice long sleeves, and UPF 50+ properties for extra protection from the sun’s punishing rays. The polyester and elastane material mix is also nice and comfortable; you’ll hardly even notice you’re wearing it. 

Eddie Bauer Folding Backpack Beach Chair 

Eddie Bauer 

A comfortable and easy-to-carry beach chair with plenty of pockets for stashing things is an absolute essential if you want to stay comfortable all day on the sand. I polled my local moms’ group in Tampa for their favorite option before pressing purchase on my backpack beach chairs from Tommy Bahama. The five-position seating feature includes a totally-lie-flat option, which is a must when you want to sneak in a proper beach nap (think of it as your first-class cabin on the sand).

But, if you’re looking for a deal (whether it be to replace your old chair or equip your beach buds with a comfy seat), Eddie Bauer’s backpack beach chair is currently 44 percent off and has a few extra perks.

Shakalo Sandscreen Sand Removal Bag


This might seem kind of gimmicky, but for anyone who thinks the beach is too sandy (or just wants a clean car for the drive home), this sand-removal gadget is a lifesaver. Pass on the baby powder to get sand off at the end of a beach day in favor of this talc-free and reef-friendly alternative in the form of a microfiber pouch that lets you wipe sand off legs, arms, feet, and hands. It leaves your skin feeling clean and sand-free at the end of a long day in the sun and surf. 

Coral Safe Face Stick SPF 50


I’m a longtime scuba diver, so you can bet I never leave any trace of sunscreen during a beach day or an ocean dive. That’s why I always opt for reef-safe, mineral-based sunscreen that reflects the sun’s damaging rays while doing far less harm to the marine environment than traditional chemical-based varieties. A high SPF for my face is also essential. I love this stick-style sunscreen from Coral Safe that uses naturally derived minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for strong sun protection. 

Kelty Portable Beach Sun Shelter


Having plenty of shade to slink into throughout the day keeps everyone happy and makes it all the more likely you can be first in and last out. And the easier your shade-giving device is to pop open and put up, the happier you’ll be having it along. I swear by the CoolCabana 5, but you can also get the same convenience and protection with the Kelty Portable Beach Shelter. It comes with sandbags and stakes for fast set-up, and three large mesh windows for airflow. But the best part is, when the day’s over, it folds up into a simple carrying pouch.

Bogg Bag Original Extra-large Waterproof Open Tote


There are plenty of lookalikes out there, but I’m a fan of the original Bogg Bag as the ultimate beach day carryall. It’s always stuffed full of sand toys for the kids, snacks, sunscreen — you name it. It comes to other places with us, too, including the pool and parks. I love that the bag doesn’t tip over, the bottom doesn’t leak in the car or anywhere else if something spills, and that when you get home, you can just rinse the whole thing off and it’s like new again and ready for the next sandy adventure. There are more color options than you can imagine, too, from bright and sunny hues to pastels, in case you’re the type who wants to match your Bogg to your bikini. 

OluKai Ohana Beach Sandals


I learned the hard way that it’s no fun trying to run across scorching hot sand and a parking lot back to your car when you’ve toweled off for the day (cue scenes of throwing a towel down on the sand to save your burning feet). Whatever barefoot fun you have planned at the water’s edge, flip-flops or sandals are a must for a summer beach day.

Certified B Corporation OluKai’s Ohana beach sandals have been my ride-or-die pair for years, both their good looks and practicality. They have textured soles for gripping wet surfaces and a comfortable compression-molded footbed that fits with your feet, and they are made from water-resistant materials that have a real leather look yet dry off in a flash. 

Shibumi Shade Beach Canopy

For beach days when the wind is blowing onshore (just 3 miles per hour is all the wind strength you need), I love the easy-to-install and bright, summery look of a Shibumi beach canopy. It’s super light and fits into a small bag for carrying down to the beach, but pops up in a few seconds and uses the wind power to keep its sail sending shade onto the sand. All you have to do is plant the poles in the sand, anchor with a sandbag, and grab a shady spot under it to set up. 

EasyGo Heavy Duty Beach Umbrella 


My college roommate from the University of Florida days — a born and raised Florida girl from Ormond Beach — turned me on to this affordable and extremely stable beach umbrella that pops open with hardly any effort. You can adjust the height and tilt to get the circle of shade just where you want it throughout the day, and the lightweight aluminum poles stay rust-free, even after years of use. I love the cheerful colors, too; they’re perfect for making a beach photo pop (and finding your spot).  

RTIC Half-gallon Insulated Jug


Sure, there are plenty of big-name water bottle brands you can try, but odds are, they cost more than twice what you’ll pay for the RTIC Half-gallon Insulated Jug. It does the same job of keeping liquids icy cool all day long in the hot sun. I usually fill this one’s half-gallon contents with cold water so I can make sure everyone stays hydrated throughout the day. There’s a small spout that works like a charm for pouring straight into thirsty mouths if you don’t want to share germs, and the handle makes the jug easy to tote along — oh, and drinks stay cold in here with ice for up to 24 hours. 

Yeti Hopper M20 Cooler Backpack


I don’t hit the beach without my Yeti Hopper M20 Soft Backpack Cooler riding along on my shoulders, full of snacks and drinks to last all day long. Sure, it’s a splurge, but the cooler can carry up to 16 cans and intentionally designed straps to ensure a seamless journey from the car to the sand. Everything inside stays cold for hours thanks to the cooler’s ColdCell foam insulation, RF-wielded leakproof seams, and UV-resistant DryHide fabric. It’s basically like having a personal refrigerator on your back, and it’s worth every penny.

JBL Clip 3 Portable Speaker 


Sometimes I prefer the sound of the seagulls and rolling surf. Other times, I like to chill out with some music as a backdrop for the beach. Whatever the beach day may entail, I always bring this handy JBL portable speaker along. In addition to impressive sound from such a tiny device, it’s waterproof to protect from splashes and has a handy clip to hang it up somewhere off the sand (think: your cooler, beach chair, umbrella, or sun shelter). Charge it up before you go and it will keep the music pumping for up to 10 hours, too. 

Hydro Flask All Around Travel Tumbler


Have you noticed a theme of keeping drinks cool? It’s the not-so-secret sauce for going the distance all day on the beach, whether you’re hydrating with water (as you should be, of course) or a beverage with a little something extra. I see the buzzy Stanley tumblers everywhere on Florida beach days, but this insulated, stainless steel version by HydroFlask holds 32 ounces of liquid inside, fits into a cup holder, and has a similar straw lid top that serves the purpose just as well.

Mac Sports Beach Wagon 


You might be wondering by now how all this stuff gets brought along. I have a friend from up North who uses a plastic sledding toboggan to drag stuff down to the sand at the beach. Since I’m usually parking somewhere that requires a walk across concrete at some point, the answer is a good beach wagon with wheels that roll easily over the sand and tons of capacity for piling up everything inside.

This one from Mac’s Sports does the trick with a sturdy frame and big, sand-ready wheels that can transport up to 150 pounds. It’s collapsible, too, so you can fold it down and stash it away in the garage between beach days. 

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