15 essentials for your beach bag

Written by: Heidi Papworth

I love the beach!  Living in Miami affords me many opportunities for quick trips to head east to Miami Beach, west to Naples, or south down to the Keys.  I’ve learned that whether beach bound, boating with friends, hanging poolside or lakeside, you’ll need some essentials for fun in the sun. I have learned what’s essential (and what’s NOT essential) when packing up for a beach day.

I use one small backpack for all of my belongings.  Within my backpack I fit a rolled up towel, a small cosmetic-style bag, and any extra clothes I’ll need for the trip.  Here’s a detailed list of my beach bag contents:

1.  CC cream with sunscreen. CC cream is essentially moisturizer, sunscreen, and a light foundation all in one. I use this as my go to makeup choice, but it comes in handy for beach days too.  One of my favorite brands is Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB Sunscreen with SPF 30.  It’s super moisturizing and also a major bargain at $10. It’s not greasy or heavy, so it’s perfect for giving your face a little color, hiding any blemishes and protecting from the sun.  

2.  Bright lipstick color with Supergoop!’s 30 SPF lip balm over top. My philosophy is that a fun lipstick is always appropriate! You can make any of your favorite lipsticks beach-ready by applying SPF filled Supergoop over top. It’s glossy and won’t mess up the lipstick. If I don’t want to apply lipstick, I opt for my chapstick with SPF.  Whether color or not color, don’t forget the SPF… Chapped and burnt lips are no fun.

3.  Travel size deodorant. After dipping in the water, you’ve likely washed off your deodorant and then will continue to sweat. It’s always good to have a quick reapply if spending a long day outside.

4.  Travel size hair detangler. My favorite product is It’s a 10 leave in conditioner. It’s a detangler and conditioner in one. I spritz some on after getting out of the water and it goes a long way in keeping my hair tamed and not so frizzy.

5.  Headband, comb and some bobby pins. These items take up very little space and go a long way! I don’t know about you, but my hair + salt water + wind = a hot mess. I comb through it and either pin it back with my bobby pins or put on a headband to keep hair out of my eyes.  

6. Travel mascara.  I’m not a waterproof mascara fan, so I never wear mascara to the beach. I do however, pack along a travel size mascara for after my day at the beach. (Clinique is my favorite brand and I get a travel size every year with their bonus sale).  Usually after a beach day we opt for doing something out and about after, so having some mascara on hand allows me to freshen up just a bit. 

7. Polarized sunglasses. I do not leave home without my Costa I can tell you that these are more expensive than your dollar store sunglasses, but worth the investment. They come with a lifetime warranty and designed for the water.  With my glasses on, I can see so many different colors in the water and can see fish and sea life much easier than with regular sunglasses. I’ve posted a photo I took when snorkeling in Key Largo. 

This is what I can see with regular sunglasses:

This is what it looks like with Costa glasses:

8.  Sunscreen.  Two of my favorite sunscreens are Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch (this is not greasy at all and great for people with sensitive skin), and Aveeno Active Naturals Spray SPF (I love the smell and it’s easy to apply with the spray can and also good for sensitive skin).  Make sure whatever you’re using is not expired!

9.  Extra set of clothes (with undies too.)   Easy to pack and a must for after-water activities. You do not want to be stuck in your wet suit for hours after the beach.  And chances are, your clothes that you wear TO the beach will end up covered in sand and wet anyway… so always bring along a change of clothes.

10.  A water bottle (or 2 or 3) filled with 3/4 frozen water. I typically keep my freezer stocked with water bottles.. only ¾ filled. I’ll top it off with tap water before leaving. That gives me chilled water to drink right away, and the rest will melt eventually at the beach.  If you prefer not to do plastic, I recommend the Tervis tumblers.  Filled up with ice and water, they will keep your beverage cool for hours, even in the hot Florida heat.

11. Plastic Ziploc bags. Ziplocs bags (or your favorite off-brand) are cheap, easy to pack and super handy.  I can put my iPhone in one and the touch screen works fine through the bag.  It’s a cheap way to protect your phone from the sand and from getting wet.  Or use them to collect your sea shells, store away anything else you don’t want sandy (headphones, keys, etc), or just have them on hand to collect trash throughout your stay.

12.  Snacks. I always pack a few oranges or apples along with some cliff bars.  I make sure to have a substantial meal before heading to the beach so that I’m not starving when I get there.  I do NOT pack deli meats, cheeses, or anything that will be unable to endure the heat throughout my stay (unless I’m bringing a cooler which is a different story).  I use this rule of thumb – unless I can eat it at room temperature I don’t take it to the beach.

13.  Headphones. If it’s a busy beach day, you’re sure to have a couple of boom boxes… yes I see these all the time… playing from groups nearby.  I like to drown out the music by listening to my own music (aka John Mayer) through my phone. 

14.  Bug spray. Bug spray isn’t a standard for my beach bag, but if I know I’ll be outside into the evening, I do bring it.  Avon has a Skin so Soft product that’s great for sensitive skin and doesn’t smell.  They also have a SPF 30 + bug repellent lotion combo that works well.

15.  Coconut cleansing wipes. I know Nina really likes these too!  These are great for wiping down sticky hands, wiping off sand, and giving yourself a quick cleanse post-beach.  We all know that a day at the beach can leave you feeling sandy, salty and sweaty, so these are a must if you are not able to get a shower in right away. I throw 5-6 in a Ziploc to save space.

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