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Seas the Day: How to Prepare for a Great Day at the Beach
All prepared for the sun to make an appearance! A beach chair with an umbrella is accompanied by a floppy sun hat, with belongings located close by. A beautiful day at the beach can be best enjoyed by arriving well-prepared for weather, hunger, and sunshine. Photos by Elizabeth Guldimann

Seas the Day: How to Prepare for a Great Day at the Beach 

A warm beam of sunshine hits your face as you inhale a deep breath of briny sea air and wiggle your toes in the moist, brown sugar sand. Nothing quite compares to a day at the beach on a warm, California afternoon. It’s an inexpensive way to have a great day, but a great day can easily turn into a bad day for those who are unprepared. Sunburns, forgotten lunches, and dehydration are all easily avoidable pitfalls of a beach day. 

It’s a good idea to be prepared to protect yourself from the sun’s harsh rays at the beach. Morning fog and cool afternoon breezes at local beaches like Leo Carrillo are a welcome relief from the heat, but can also deliver a scorching sunburn.

Sun protection is vital for any visit to the beach. The coastal grandmother aesthetic is trending this season, and for good reason. Its hallmarks are large, floppy sun hats, linen pants, and cotton button-down blouses in shades of white and tan. While proving to be a timeless look for all ages, it is equally fashionable and functional thanks to the sun protection offered by these items. For those planning on engaging in more rigorous beach activities, floppy hats (preferably with a chin strap to compensate for strong ocean breezes), long-sleeved rash guards with UV protection, and long pants are all great options. 

Sunscreen is essential. When choosing a sunscreen, it’s a good idea to opt for one that is reef-safe and oxybenzone free. As someone who is easily susceptible to sunburns, I look for mineral sunscreens with an SPF above 50 with zinc listed as an ingredient. Some really great brands to check out are Alba Botanica, Badger, and Raw Elements, which are Earth-friendly, not tested on animals, and have clean ingredients. Each of these three brands also offers their sunscreen in a convenient face stick form as well, which I love to carry in my bag or pocket when I’m on the go. I especially love this format, because after I’ve used a beach bathroom where sinks aren’t available, the last thing I want to do is touch my face, no matter how much sanitizer I’ve used. While it may be unavoidable on vacations and all-day beach trips, I usually like to plan my beach visits before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m., because the sun’s rays are the most bright and damaging within those hours. 

The way you set up your beach area can also be vital to your health in the sun. While spreading out a beach towel to sunbathe all day may sound inviting, it’s just not worth the risk of skin damage. Instead, it’s a great idea to hang out under an umbrella. Even if I don’t plan on getting wet, I like to bring a towel just in case I get chilly or I want to cover up more for extra sun protection. A Turkish towel is a really great option. They are lighter than terry cloth and dry faster. They also take up less room in a beach bag. 

When deciding what to bring to the beach, leave valuables such as jewelry at home. Unattended cars can be smashed into for valuables, and unattended umbrellas may invite beach thieves—or a seagull looking for shiny goodies. If I plan on entering the water, I like to make sure I’ve left my rings at home, and watches just invite water damage and cause odd tan lines. 

A beach basket filled with the essentials: a reusable water bottle, snacks of fruits and veggies, a turkish towel, a plant-based sandwich in a reusable Stasher bag, trail mix, SaltStick electrolyte tablets, and three kinds of sunscreen, Badger, Raw Elements, and Alba Botanica.

As far as food goes, I like to try to bring as little waste as possible. I use reusable Stasher bags, which are made of silicon, and store them in my beach bag afterwards. I bring two 32 oz reusable water bottles for an average beach day. As a bonus, many reusable bottles are insulated to keep your drinks colder than a plastic bottle would, which can cut down on the need to haul a cooler down to the sand. Staying hydrated helps prevent heat related illness, and electrolytes can help. Liquid IV drink powder can be added to water. SaltStick tablets are another great option.

It’s a good idea to bring food that keeps well, such as a plant-based sandwich of veggies, peanut butter, or imitation meat. Nuts or dried berries, and self-contained produce such as bananas, apples, cucumbers, or cherry tomatoes are ideal. 

There are many forms of potential catastrophe that can put a damper on your beach day fun, but being well-prepared can help you to avoid issues. From adequate sun protection, to a suitable beach set-up, and a yummy lunch that doesn’t include a tuna fish sandwich, there are many ways to get ready for a beach trip that will leave you ready to take on the day.

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