There is nothing funnier to me than watching a family make their first trek down to the Gulf of Mexico.
On that first visit, you have two types: the bring-it-alls and the under-preparers.
Neither is a good camp to be in. Bring-it-alls are the people who think they need to pack everything and then some to go to the beach. They have chairs, grills, three thousand towels, six fully inflated rafts, pounds of sand toys, coolers and eight bottles of sunscreen. They are puffing and sweating just trying to carry all that stuff down to the water. And packing up to leave is a mess.
Under-preparers show up with nothing. Maybe a towel. Likely not a single sunscreen bottle. There trek to the water is easy-peasy, but their sunburnt, sandy skin at the end of the day tells a different story.
You need not be either of these unfortunate souls. I’ve been visiting the beach with my mother and sister since I was in diapers, and I now have packing down to a science. Here’s what you need to know:
- Do pack sunscreen. The UV index, an indicator of how intense the sunlight is, can get to a 10 on a 12-point scale during peak hours of summer. That bright, warm sunshine is what we love most about the Florida coastline, but it can also be dangerous. Sunburn is no joke. Apply SPF 30 or higher sunscreen before you leave your condominium or beach house rental. Bring the bottle with you and reapply every 1-2 hours.
- Don’t over pack. The white sands of the beach are beautiful, but they are also hard to walk across with your arms loaded down and a cooler in tow. Limit yourself to one bag/cooler per person at most. This will make the walk to the water much easier.
- Do bring water, and lots of it. Like I said, the beach can get hot. While that makes for a fabulous vacation, fun in the sun can dehydrate you. Everyone should drink at least two bottles throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Don’t inflate rafts before you reach the water. I am not a big fan of these floaty devices, but my mother loves them. She’ll float and soak for hours. Plus, little ones may need the added swim protection of water wings. If you do pack them, don’t inflate them until you reach the surf. When you leave, deflate and roll them to pack up. It will make life that much easier.
- Do bring an extra towel. My rule of thumb is a towel per person plus one for every three in a group. So for example, six people would need eight towels. Undoubtedly you are going to want to sit on one towel or little Jimmy is going to get his towel wet or you are going to need a towel to wrap up those wet bathing suits for transport.
- Don’t pack sand toys. Borrow them instead! The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center has a nifty borrow bin filled with sand toys, boogie boards and more, free to use. Swing by the center on the beach and grab a handful before making your way to the water. At the end of the day, return the toys to the bucket.
- Do protect your electronics. Water and sand are not electronic friendly. I recommend leaving the camera in the condo and using your cell phone instead. A waterproof or water-resistant case should protect your phone if you are careful, and Ziploc bags offer cheap protection for other necessities.
- Don’t leave a trace. Navarre Beach has a “leave no trace” ordinance in place. This means it is illegal to leave items out on the beach after dark. This law protects our local wildlife, especially nesting sea turtles! Remember to pack up everything when you leave. Bring a grocery bag to carry all garbage, fill in all holes and knock down those sand castles to pave the way for our local wildlife. When we all do a little it goes a long way.
- Do grab baby powder. This stuff is for more than powdering juniors bottom. Baby powder is an excellent tool for getting sand off your toes before loading back into the car. There are shower stations available for rinsing your tootsies, but I have found baby powder works easier and faster. Plus, no dripping in the car. Just sprinkle on your feet and brush it away.
- Don’t stress it. This is a vacation. In the end no one is going to look back on your vacation and remember whether or not you packed that one snack or sand bucket. You are going to remember the great moments shared together so relax.
Visit navarrelistings.com to book your stay today!