How to Hit the Beach Like a Pro This Summer
We asked avid beachgoers around the country about their go-to beach accessories to help you maximize your sun and sand lounging this summer.
You know that feeling you get when the sweat from your neckline slowly drips down your back? To us, that signals the true start of summer and simultaneously means that a beach day is in order. Whether you’re team East Coast or West Coast, or even team Gulf Coast, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got all your gear ready to go so you’re ensured the best beach day ever. Because you know what’s worse than that dripping sweat? An epic sunburn, lack of cold beverages, and an uncomfortable seating situation. Not to worry, though: we’ve got it all taken care of with this carefully sourced and curated essential gear list from folks who live and breathe beach life.
Time to hit the surf!
Cult favorite sunscreen Sun Bum makes this simultaneously refreshing and protecting sunscreen facial mist that protects from UV rays and soothes sensitive skin with witch hazel. Like all the brand’s products, the mist is reef friendly. “What I love about Sun Bum is how light it feels on my skin, and I find it provides the best coverage for my pale skin,” says Leah Edwards, general manager at the soon-to-open Venice V hotel on Venice Beach in Los Angeles. “I also love that it’s vegan and cruelty free.”
Is this backpack cooler on the pricey side? Yes. Will it keep your drinks and food ice-cold all day long, and probably last a lifetime? Also yes. And it will do it by making sure you can carry everything easily on your back as you trek from your car to the best spot in the sand. It has a leakproof zipper, Coldcell insulation, and is made with a durable, waterproof, and mildew-resistant fabric. Plus, it has a wide-mouth opening, making it super-easy to load and unload, something many soft coolers struggle with. Bonus: It’s also ideal for camping and hiking.
This stylish handwoven raffia sunhat is soft and packable, plus it’s adjustable via an interior tie, making it perfect for small and large heads alike. The floppy brim is just wide enough to block the sun, for those who can’t pull off the oversized look. Beach’d, a New Hampshire coast-based woman-owned company from a fashion world ex-pat, makes stylish beach accessories at affordable prices. We also love their seagrass tote, with a removable washable canvas liner that has pockets for everything.
Hannah Selinger, a writer and mother of two who lives year-round in East Hampton, NY, usually spends dozens of hours on the beach each week during the summer. “Anyone who claims that iPads are beach-friendly doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on the beach,” she says. “Between the glare and the heat (good luck getting through five minutes without the ‘temperature warning’ sign flashing), the iPad is nothing but trouble. The Kindle Paperwhite is glare-proof, has a long battery life, and can hold a lot of books and magazines. Sure, it’s not the same as flipping the pages on a glossy, but trust me when I say that on a windy day at the beach, you’ll be glad you invested in a Paperwhite.” Plus, the new version is waterproof—we rest our case.
Finding the perfect beach chair is an art. It’s either easy to carry but majorly uncomfortable, or super cushy but impossible to get from your car to the sand without dropping everything else in your arms. And don’t get us started on the ones that are impossible to get out of when it’s time to stand up. Enter the Sunflow Chair, which is compact yet comfortable (not too low and with padding in all the right places) and lightweight and easy-to-carry, thanks to shoulder straps. It unfolds quickly and easily, has four reclining positions, is made with rust-resistant aluminum, and comes in ten different colors and patterns. Add on a cup holder, sunshade, and dry bag, or get them all with the Beach Bundle.
If you love the look of a retro fringe umbrella, you’ll want to purchase this sassy number. The top is made from a water resistant cotton-poly canvas trimmed in a swingy fringe and the pole comes from reclaimed timber wood and adjusts both for height and angle. The umbrella comes in three colors and patterns with a matching carrying bag.
Are you team thin Turkish towel or terrycloth? With these Kassatex Ibiza towels, you get the best of both worlds. Made from long-staple cotton, they’re a perfect compromise weightwise, and the chic stripes won’t fade in the wash thanks to the eco-melange dye, making them a favorite of hotels. Indeed, Atit Jariwala, the CEO of Bridgeton Holdings, which runs Walker Hotels in NYC and Marram, right on the beach in Montauk on Long Island, says, “I love these towels because they’re super soft and great quality. They’re easy to get lost in while lounging and of course, they dry you off well.”
This oversized rectangular tote is perfect for lugging beach toys, sunscreen, towels, and anything else you can think of to the beach. It’s super strong with durable straps, waterproof, and easily wipes clean. Best of all, it folds flat for easy storage.
Sick of goopy sunscreen getting all over but don’t trust the coverage of sprays (and hate how they can damage the environment)? Project Sunscreen is the first portable roll-on sunscreen, which allows for a no-mess application and solid protection. Created by an Australian skin cancer survivor and a California dermatologist, this sunscreen is ocean- and reef-friendly with 100 percent active mineral ingredients, including naturally derived zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that create a reflective barrier. Each bottle comes with a topper that lets you hook the sunscreen onto a bag, bike, or stroller so it’s always handy.
Another of Selinger’s must haves in East Hampton? These insulated cups and wine bottle. “If there’s anything worse than a lukewarm beverage on the beach, I don’t want to know about it,” says Selinger. “A couple of years ago, a friend got me a BrüMate gift set for keeping wine cold, and it’s fabulous—and useful for grab ’n go cocktails, too.”
Igloo is a classic, and along with its super-fun retro line that will take you straight back to childhood, it makes this ultra-practical cooler on wheels. Aside from keeping up to 112 cans ice cold, it’s also equipped with a food basket, dry storage, butler tray, a mobile device stand, bottle openers, drain plug, collapsible handle, and heavy-duty wheels, making it the Swiss army knife of coolers. Elizabeth Baldwin, Social Media Content Producer at Igloo who lives near Newport Beach, California, says she’s obsessed. “The two things I think about when heading to the beach are weather and parking. Lugging all my gear is inevitable, and the Igloo Trailmate is a game-changer and catch-all,” says Baldwin. “Its wheels allow for convenient travel to and from my car and across the sand; it holds drinks, towels, gear, and my surfboard on top; and it also keeps drinks cold all day, no matter the weather.”
If you’re hitting the sand with a large group, the Neso beach tent is a must. The Lycra/nylon shade only weighs 6.5 pounds and is UPF 50+ and water resistant so you’ll stay cool and dry. It includes a cooler pocket for drinks and snacks and comes with a carrying bag, two rust-proof aluminum poles, and four anchor bags to fill with sand or rocks for ultimate stability. It also comes in a ton of colors and patterns, so you can pick your favorite.
For the young and young heart—who also happen to care about style—this Scandinavian twist on a classic bucket and shovel set is as functional as it is stylish. Copenhagen children’s company Liewood makes silicone toys and products that last forever—no cracked plastic buckets here. Plus, it’s flexible so it’s easier to stash in your bag without taking up too much room.
You know how when you’re lying on a towel or blanket on the sand trying to read and you can feel your neck straining? Now there’s a pillow made specifically for the beach. It’s inflatable but weighted (via a pouch to fill with sand) so it won’t blow away and it’s perfectly contoured with a padded top. It deflates for packing into a bag and you can use it for camping and traveling, too.
Listen to your top tunes at the beach and protect your device at the same time with this retro lunchbox-style radio speaker. The box opens up to fit a phone or similarly sized device and will stream your beach jams via Bluetooth or auxiliary cable. The sealed design is also resistant to water and sand and there’s even enough extra room inside to stash your keys or a snack.