|Baby Beach, Maui.|
I've said it before: I'm crazy about the beach. Summer or not, bikini or not, swimming or not, it's the best and most fun destination for family travel. Here is a list of my top 8 tips for how to make a beach-visit with kids even better, whether you're just heading down to the local beach, or going on a far-away holiday.
1. Bring beach toys
One bucket and one shovel per child is enough, but more can make for more fun. Buckets are especially important since they can be used for collecting rocks and shells, as well as for building sand castles, filling moats with water, and various other purposes.
If you're on holidays, far away from home, and didn't bring any shovels or buckets (seriously, they do not fit well into suitcases!), then pick up some cheap buckets and shovels from a local store. Then leave them behind or donate them to another family when you go.
|Long Beach, Vancouver Island.|
2. Scout out the bathrooms before you need them
I sometimes think I have a bathroom obsession, and maybe I do, but in that case it's simply because I have children who really need to go once they need to go. Take a look around when you arrive, see if there are any facilities, and then at least you'll know which way to run if there is an emergency.
|Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria.|
This is especially important if your kids go in the water (or if they like to bury themselves in the sand). Swimsuits and beach-wear can end up a frightful mess after a day on the beach. If you have a nice, reasonably dry and clean change of clothes for your children, they will not only feel better but will also leave less sand in your car.
Dresses rule when it comes to a good change of clothes at the beach, because they are so easy to put on without getting all sandy (try to put a wet sandy foot into a pair of shorts without getting messy and compare...).
4. Bathrobes are great beach-wear
I discovered this on our latest family vacation to the Canary Islands. I had brought these nice bathrobes for my kids (Christmas presents from my mom), and they were fantastic to use on the beach. If the kids were cold, the robes helped warm them up, and they also provided some nice sun protection.
One really nice detail on the robes my kids had, were that the belts were attached to the robes at the back rather than just being strung through the belt-loops. No chance of losing a belt! Hooded towels are great too.
5. If you can, get a beach-chair and an umbrella (especially if traveling with a baby)
In the Canary Islands, almost every beach featured beach-chair and umbrella rentals. I sometimes thought this was unnecessary, but after a while I got used to the convenience: less sand to deal with, and some nice shade too. If you have a baby with you on the beach, the chair and the umbrella can be really useful, helping you keep the baby from eating half the beach, making it easier to let them nap, and providing some much needed shade.
Bring your own beach umbrella and chair, or one of those little beach tents for shade.
6. Bring snacks and drinks
At the very least, always bring water. Some kind of snack is always nice on the beach too, though the sand tends to get into everything when kids eat at the beach. (For example, slices of water melon can get very crunchy when dropped in the sand!) Pretzels work good, and so do non-sticky, non-chocolate covered snack bars.
If you can (and if you feel like packing more stuff to bring) take a small cooler with snacks and drinks along. Hard-sided coolers might not be a possible option if you traveled by air to your beach destination, but small, soft coolers can work well too. I forgot to bring one along to the Canary Islands, and kind of regretted that. Even a small cooler with just enough room for some fresh fruit, and juice boxes is nice to have.
7. Bring beach towels
I love my big, thick, colorful, soft beach towels. Bought them at Costco a couple of years ago. They are bulky as all heck to pack, but I still squashed them into our suitcase when we went on our latest trip.Turned out the hotel we stayed at in Gran Canaria supplied beach towels for the stay, but they were not as fancy-schmanzy as my own of course.
Beach towels that are big enough for an adult to lay down on at the beach, and thick enough not to disappear into the sand immediately if your kids decide to lay down or sit or on them, are just a great addition to a beach visit in my opinion. They also worked well to cover up the beach-chairs, when we had them.
|DT Fleming Beach Park, Maui.|
Apply it to your children and yourself (and your spouse if they'll let you) before you go to the beach, when you get there and every now and then while you're there too. After spending a lot of time at different sunny beaches with my kids, I'm starting to have some firm opinions on sunscreen and other forms of sun protection too.
Sun burn is just one of those things kids should not have to deal with. It's painful and can ruin several days of your holiday, and of course, in the long term, there's the whole issue of skin cancer as well.