The message this year is “Holiday at Home”. So as the weather warms up, enjoy a day at a local beach. Whether your family wants to swim in the surf, build sandcastles, sunbathe or just catch up with friends, be prepared. We’ve put together a helpful list of things to pack for a day at the beach to make it as fun as possible.
It contains all the usual beach paraphernalia but we’ve also added some items you might not have thought of. Plus, we’ve highlighted some local Newcastle & Hunter businesses so you can support local! Be fully prepared for your next family beach day with a useful beach day packing list!
With our hot Australian sun, shade is essential and extends your visit to the beach. Choose a sun shelter that’s easy to get up. The beach tents are great if you want a cool space for babies and kids to relax and take a nap. Choose a pop-up beach tent that doesn’t take too long to put up and that you can do yourself. Our go-to beach tent was the Caribee Guardian UV tent, super easy to put up.
But now, I’m a beach umbrella convert. Just stick it in and you’re done. There are loads to choose from but I’m now using one from Sydney-based Basil Bangs. Big and sturdy, I’m looking forward to many beach days with it. Tip: With any beach shelter, make sure it’s secured properly or pull it down in windy conditions so that it doesn’t fly off and hit someone.
The beach towel is a must-have down at the beach. Sit on it, use it to dry off or wrap it around you when you start to get cold. Is it time for new beach towels? Make sure that every member of the family has their own easily identifiable towel – use different colours or designs for your towels. After enduring years of sandy towels, we’ve finally switched to sand-free towels and love them. Not only are they thinner and quick-drying, but sand also doesn’t stick to them. (We’ve tested this to make sure).
While there are a number of sand-free towels available across Australia, local company Fashion Fish in Warners Bay designs and makes a fantastic range of quality sand-free towels. These towels feature reversible designs – so it’s like having 2 towels in 1. We’ve been using these towels down at the beach and now swear by sand-free towels. They are lightweight and dry super quick plus the sand doesn’t stick to them like regular beach towels. Check out the towel Colour is Confidence pictured above. It was the winning design for a recent competition by Fashion Fish and was painted by 9-year-old Zoe, a student at Cardiff South Public School.
Sunscreen is essential for the beach but you’ll need to apply it 20 minutes before going outdoors. According to the Cancer Council, the sunscreen needs to be at least 30SPF, broad-spectrum and water-resistant. Also, the sunscreen should always be reapplied at least every two hours, irrespective of the water-resistance of the sunscreen. After swimming, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen.
Make sure everyone is wearing a hat at the beach to reduce the chance of sunburn and heat stroke. Choose broad-brimmed hats to provide maximum protection.
It’s amazing how much stuff you need for the beach. Pack all of the paraphernalia in a beach bag. The bigger the better. Choose a large waterproof bag that fits everything you need. You can buy beach totes from lots of different places depending on your budget and size. Cotton On, Kmart and Target have some super cute beach totes. But for a bargain $1, my friend swears by the large blue IKEA FRATKA shopping bags to fit everything she needs. Waterproof, kid-proof and easy to spot on the beach, it’s her go-to bag for packing for the beach.
My pick for the summer beach bag is the Basil Bangs Daily Tote. I’ve just bought one and it’s fabulous as a beach bag as it’s big enough to carry lots of stuff. As well as being waterproof, it has a sealed pocket for wet swimmers and more, and a mesh bottom so that sand doesn’t gather in the bottom of the bags.
Beach utility wagon
If you don’t want a beach bag, grab a beach wagon instead. They’re handy to transport all your beach paraphernalia. Some beach wagons like the Wanderer Rugged Cart Beach Wagon have cup holders and even an integrated beach umbrella.
For a really cool wagon, check out this cool product from Central Coast company Ezy Beach. They’ve designed Beach Mate®, a fantastic beach caddy or beach trolley to make it easy to carry your boogie boards, beach towels, fishing rods, etc. It features a cargo net and carries up to 90kg. And once you’ve unpacked everything, you can use it as a beach chair!
It’s thirsty work going to the beach so make sure you pack lots of water and stay hydrated. Be kind to the environment and choose refillable water bottles. Plus, freeze a couple of water bottles so that they serve double duty as ice blocks. Once they thaw, they will be icy cool.
When hunger pangs strike at the beach, be prepared. Yes, I know there are beach kiosks at popular beaches where can you buy food like burgers, fish and chips and ice creams. However, I’ve also experienced long waits on busy days and learned my lesson. Pack some goodies like fruit or veggies (strawberries, grapes, carrot sticks, cut up melon, bananas), muffins, biscuits, crackers and sandwiches. Anything that can be easily grabbed and eaten works.
To store all of your food and drinks, invest in a beach cooler. Whether it’s soft-sided or a hard cooler, you just need to keep everything cool. If you want to play beach cricket, check out the Cricket Cooler, which includes a set of stumps which rotate upwards at the front to form a target.
Wipes & sanitiser
We’re all packing and using sanitiser these days but throw in some baby wipes as well. Even if you don’t have a baby, these wipes come in handy to clean hands before eating and to wipe faces clean.
To really relax at the beach, you need to keep kids busy. Invest in some beach toys to entertain and occupy them like buckets, spades, beach balls, etc. Pick up some inexpensive beach spades and buckets at Kmart or Big W or splurge on some high-quality beach toys.
Local Hamilton boutique LollipopKids stocks Quut range of beach toys. There is the Alto Sand Builder, a three-part toy inspired by professional sand-builders. Featuring stackable, small-medium-large components, kids can become sand castle experts, creating firm structures that won’t crumble away in minutes. There’s also Raki and Scoppi, which lets kids scoop and rake the sand to their heart’s content. For super-duper sun, choose the Beach Set Triplet which has a small throwing game in it.
If your family wants to ride the waves, pack the boogie boards and have some fun. You can find a variety of boards depending on your kids’ age and budget. Check out D5 Bodyboard Shop in Merewether or Sanbah in The Junction for a wide selection.
Goggles & sunglasses
For kids (and adults) who love splashing around but hate getting salt water in their eyes, pack some goggles. Just make sure that you rinse them in water or spit in them before you use them to prevent them from fogging up if they’re prone to fogging. The layer of moisture apparently prevents them fogging up.
Also, protect your eyes with sunglasses. It’s gets glare-y at the beach. If you’re looking for sunglasses for kids, I have to recommend Babiators brand available locally at LollipopKids. My daughter received a pair when she was a baby and I was so impressed with how durable they were considered she chewed on them, sat on them and threw them out the stroller more than a few times. My favourite thing about them is their Lost and Broken Guarantee. If you lose or break your Babiators product in the first 12 months after purchase, they will replace them free, all you pay is the shipping to get them to you (purchase registration required). They come in different sizes for babies, preschoolers and kids 6+.
Waterproof phone pouch
Pack a waterproof pouch for your phone to keep it dry while you’re down at the beach. That way you can use your phone to take holiday snaps or videos without fear of getting it waterlogged or covered in sand. You’ll be glad you did. I learned this the hard way when a big wave at the Canoe Pool soaked my beach bag containing my phone. It was a goner! A waterproof phone pouch like the Case-Mate Pouch with its attached lanyard lets you take it out into the waves without worrying about water damage. If you can’t be bothered with a waterproof pouch, grab a Ziploc bag to protect your phone.
Once you’ve protected your phone, make sure you can use it and that it doesn’t run out of power. Pack a portable charger with you just in case.
If you want to hear some tunes while you’re down at the beach, get your hands on a portable waterproof speaker. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you can play your favourite “day at the beach” playlist. Just make sure you’re far away enough from other beachgoers who might not share your taste in music.
First aid kit
Hopefully, it’s not something that you need but pack a small kit with band aids, antiseptic wipes and Stingoes (ideal if they get bitten by sandflies or sea lice).
Change of clothes
Bring extra clothes for when kids get cold or want to get out of their sandy togs. Makes it much more comfortable than having to sit around in wet sandy clothes.
Pack another bag, preferably a waterproof bag that you put damp or wet clothes in. That way, the rest of the stuff in your bag doesn’t get damp.
If you have a mesh bag at home, use it to transport toys, shoes and anything else that might get sand attached. Throw them in the mesh bag and let the sand escape through the mesh. Saves your car and house being covered with sand.
Bring a bag to take your rubbish away with you. There are usually rubbish and recycling bins at most beaches so please dispose of your rubbish responsibly.
Want to know the best beaches for kids? Here in the Newcastle region, we are blessed with beaches from Port Stephens to the north to Lake Macquarie beaches to the south. They range from city surf beaches to sheltered family-friendly beaches and pools. Depending on the age and swimming ability of your kids, you’ll find different beaches or ocean baths to suit your family. Check out our article 15 of Newcastle’s Best Beaches & Ocean Baths for Kids.
In 2012, Reena founded Newy with Kids to share information about family-friendly Newcastle. Originally from Canada, she had no idea about what to do with her toddler and after searching unsuccessfully for a family guide, decided to start her own. Since that time, both the toddler and Newy with Kids have grown keeping Reena busy. If you see her out and about, say hi.