Last summer, I — after a lifetime of being Not Really A Beach Person — became a person who genuinely enjoys a day at the beach! The trick? Good gear. (Turns out, the secret to everything is just…having money.) In my experience, the beach isn’t a particularly comfortable place to be, and you really do need gear to offset that. Like, I can only sit on a towel reading — in direct sunlight!! — for so long before my body starts aching, you know? Having better gear made a world of difference; I was cool and comfortable and able to stay out for hours last year. And those beach days made me feel relaxed, happy, and whole, so I really am glad I found a way to make them happen.
Here’s the beach gear I love and recommend:
I love Rio Brands Deluxe Aluminum Backpack Chair ($42.96 on Amazon). Fun fact: I liked this chair so much after sitting in one at my friend Alanna’s parents’ house that, two years later, I dug up the photos I took of it at the time so I could figure out what the brand was and order one of my own! It’s so good: comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, lightweight. I love the adjustable pillow and the fact that you can wear it like a backpack when you’re walking to the beach. (Also, the cupholder is very handy!) I really don’t think I could do a long beach day without a good chair! I have it blue, but the blue one is inexplicably $70 at the moment, so maybe go with the red?
If you want a less expensive but still great chair, I ordered the Rio Gear Original Steel Backpack Chair ($25.97 on Amazon) and had it shipped to my mom’s house before my family’s trip to Saugatuck last summer, and it was also great. I’ll be using it again when we head to Saugatuck this summer! And if you want something similar to these two but a little roomier, this Tommy Bahama chair ($54.09 on Amazon) has a bigger seat and a maximum weight of 300 lbs.
I’m obsessed with my Lovin' Summer Beach Tent ($150) and recommend it to everyone. I received mine as a PR gift back in 2015 and I love it. Every time I take it to the beach, multiple people come by to ask me where I got it; it's beautiful and just really unique looking. It's also just so practical; it provides a truly impressive amount of shade, but still allows for a wonderful breeze flow through. It's really easy to enter and exit, and it's super stable. It's also very lightweight and packs down in a bag that's similar in size to a yoga bag, so I can store it under my bed. If you go to the beach a few times a year, or if you are planning a days-long beach vacation, I think it's completely worth it.
My only caveat is that you should watch the video of how to set it up before you take it to the beach; the instructions are very confusingly written, and while the setup isn’t hard at all, it’s also not intuitive. (That said, the first time I ever took it out, I wasn't nearby when my friends set it up. When I got back to our area, it was fully assembled and they all said it was very easy!)
Anyway, because you may not get good cell service on the beach, you should watch that setup video and save some photos of how it looks when assembled to your camera roll before you head out. Once we figured out a couple crucial details, it came together really easily and quickly. (The setup and breakdown takes about 10 minutes.) You also could also easily string some battery-operated twinkle lights on the interior bar for evenings on the beach or for backyard camping type activities!
My current summer hat is a wide brim sun visor/hat ($12.99 on Amazon, available in 10 colors). For years, I wanted a good visor; my goal was "Offred, but make it summer." I mainly wanted something that would keep the sun off my face while I'm walking to and from the train every day — so I didn't want anything overly sporty/beachy. After discovering that most cute visors cost $150 (?!), I finally found what I was looking for in this visor. This visor completely keeps the sun off my face (and means I don't have to fuck with sunglasses / can wear my glasses to the beach). Also, the bow detail in the back is really cute! But, full disclosure: by September, it was falling apart, so I will be buying another one this summer.
Some other good beach shit:
I bought a cooler bag ($38.95 on Amazon) for picnics and the beach a few weeks ago but haven’t taken it out yet. But it looks/seems great!
Last summer, I started using a beach towel from The Beach People ($49.50+). This was a PR gift and it's really lovely. (The exact one I have isn't on their site at the moment.) I don't think you need a fancy towel to enjoy the beach...but as someone who loves soft things and great towels, having a big blanket-like towel (seriously, it’s so blush) that matches my general aesthetic made me pretty happy.
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Hurricane Drift Tevas ($40 from Zappos) are great, and are perfect for the beach. If you want to get them in white, my friend Marisa recommends cleaning them with a Magic Eraser, which is genius.
I’m also super curious about these Sea Star Beachwear waterproof espadrilles ($89), because I’m always on the lookout for closed-toe beach/summer shoes. (Terri also pointed out that they might be good for rainy summer days when it’s too warm to wear boots.)
It’s Jacob Riis Beach for me! ⛱