20 Must-Have Accessories for This Mama and Her Beach Brood

We are fortunate to live a few miles from the beach, and we take full advantage of that. My favorite time to go is late afternoon for a few hours until the sun sets — it’s less crowded, a little cooler and so peaceful. With an 8-year-old and 1-year-old in tow, we need a lot of stuff to keep the boys busy, so I can try and find a few minutes to relax and soak up the sun. However, packing for the beach can be an exhausting endeavor! Here’s a list of my top 20 must-have beach accessories for my family.

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Getting to the beach

A beach cart or wagon is essential for most families, and many moms have recommended a wagon like the Mac Sports beach wagon ($129). I love the ease and portability of the Mac wagon, which treks through the sand quite easily.  

There are so many cute beach bags, but this mama needs a functional bag that holds as much as possible. I have a dozen bags in my garage, but my favorite is my Thirty-One Brand Deluxe Utility Tote Starfish Splash ($50). This bag is big enough to hold towels, a few changes of clothes, sunscreen, hats, flip-flops, a small cooler and more! The side pockets make it easy to toss my phone and keys in, so that I can easily find them at the end of our beach day.

Speaking of towels, you can never have enough. Check out these cute personalized towels ($20+) from Personalization Mall. Hooded kids’ towels, beach-ball shaped towels, extra-large towels — everyone can show off their own towel personality. I just placed an order for a set of the Family Character Towels.

Don’t forget to pack your wet/dry bag for everyone’s wet suits. Makes doing laundry so much easier when you get home because they are all in one place. Pottery Barn Kids has some fun designs ($13–$25) for girls and boys!

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Setting up in the sand

With two young kids, I don’t spend a lot of time sitting down, but when I do, I have a few solid beach chairs on hand. Tommy Bahama beach backpack chairs (Costco, $43) adjust to five positions and lay flat. They come with a built-in cooler, cup holder and another pocket pouch for snacks or magazines.

If you’re going to be at the beach for more than an hour or two, an umbrella can be your best friend when you realize you’ve had enough sun. A beach umbrella can also double as a hanger thanks to umbrella hooks ($8) that keep your speaker, bags, purse, etc. from ever touching the sand. I’m a fan of Tommy Bahama’s umbrella (Costco, $43).

No one likes sand in their PB&J, especially my 8-year-old. Enter the beach table. A friend had a Rio compact folding beach/camping table ($30), and I immediately added to my Amazon cart that day. Comes with a little carrying bag and provides a sturdy spot for your glass of wine.

No one wants to bring sand home from the beach, and thankfully someone was smart enough to come up with a sand-proof blanket! We’ve all stood up and shaken a towel or blanket only to have sand inevitably ended up in someone’s eyes. The CGear Sand-Free Mat ($49–$89) is made from a one-way sift material originally designed for military use. It dries quickly and has rings, so you can fix it to the sand or ground.

A portable speaker with a fun playlist is also a must at the beach. One of my favorite stations to blast over my JBL Clip 2 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($49) is Yacht Radio. Don’t let the small size fool you. Plus, it’s covered in a waterproof fabric and easily clips on to just about anything to keep it off the sand.

Once you’re at the beach, the last thing you want to worry about is your valuables being stolen, which is why a waterproof pouch can be a good idea. This Blue Sky Basics waterproof pouch ($18 for two) is like a fanny pack for the beach but sleeker. Simply tuck your valuables inside, zip it up and forget about them until you need them. And you never have to worry about water ruining what’s inside thank to a triple water seal. Use it on the boat, at the pool, the beach — even in the rain!

For those cool beachside evenings, consider an easy-to-use bonfire log! This Light ‘n Go Bonfire Log ($13) is simple to light, even on a breezy night, and will keep you toasty for a few hours before it burns out and can be thrown away. Virtually no mess!

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Protecting your family from the elements

Protecting your eyes is so important here in the Sunshine State, which is why children’s sunglasses are a must. I wanted a pair of Babiator’s ($35) for my 1-year-old but didn’t think he’d go for it. I was wrong! We can’t get enough of our Islanders – Blue Series Collection. They are so freaking cute, but also functional. So many fun colors and designs to choose from and they are indestructible — even for a toddler. Why can’t they make these for adults?

Shielding our face from the sun is critical for multiple reasons, so why not look stylish while doing so? I LOVE these trucker hats from Art4All. The one I wear the most is the colorful Sunset Surf hat ($30) which couldn’t be more perfect for the beach. They’re not your traditional hats — the artist uses batik, which is a wax-resistant dye technique to create images and patterns on fabric.

You can’t have enough sunscreen in Florida. However, with so many brands out there, I am sticking to what Consumer Reports just announced as their best sunscreens of the year. They named a few without Oxybenzone which can enter the bloodstream. One was Hawaiian Tropic Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance — the smell takes me back to the beach in Maui and it was on their good list! They also named California Kids Supersensitive Sunscreen SPF 30+ as a great mineral sunscreen. Added to Amazon cart, check! Rash guards for kids are also a must.

Baby skin is so sensitive, and I am always paranoid my 1-year-old son is going to burn, even if he does have Italian skin. The more I can keep him out of the sun under a baby tent, the better. There are some like the Sunba Youth Baby Tent ($26) that even come with a mini pool to splash around in. 

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Fun beach activities for the kids

My 8-year-old learned the hard way that regular soccer balls do not mix with sand and salt water. However, beach soccer balls ($30) do! Barefoot-friendly, these provide hours of entertainment for my son and his friends, and if they kick it in the water, it’s no big deal. These make great birthday presents!

We got my son a metal detector when he was around 4 years old so he could hunt for “buried treasure,” and trust me when I say this kept him busy for hours. Especially when he would stumble upon my secretly planted gold coins and fake jewelry. The Bounty Hunter Junior T.I.D. Metal Detector ($70) has a graphic screen and weighs only 1.5 pounds!

We love to play games at the beach, and there are so many to choose from for all ages like Bocce Ball ($7), the bean-bag toss or tic-tac-toe combo game ($60), ladder toss ($27) and KanJam ($49), to name a few.

My 1-year-old is too young to partake in the games, but he does love his sand toys! This backpack full of beach toys ($17) like a rake, shovel, bucket, and floating shapes can be worn as we walk and save much-needed room in the wagon.

One of my favorite things to do with my older son is look for shark’s teeth. We’ve collected thousands over the years, and a book on shark teeth can be helpful! This Pictorial Guide to Shark Teeth ($40) helps identify exactly what kind of shark the tooth came from. Did you know a shark can lose as many as 20,000-30,000 teeth in their lifetime? There are so many different kinds and now he knows them by heart.

I’m tired just thinking about everything I pack for a day at the beach. Now, I just need a bigger car to haul it all!

Are any of these on your beach list? What are some of your family favorites?

This post contains a few affiliate links.

Kerry Schicker
Boy mom. Household CEO. Corporate leader. Outdoor lover. Social seeker. Sun worshipper. Curious traveler. Champagne enthusiast. These words describe me, Kerry Schicker, and contributor for Jacksonville Moms Blog. I first approached founders Vicky and Megan after a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I had a very unpleasant experience with my OB at the time and I needed to get it off my chest so I wrote an anonymous blog that resonated with some of our readers. I have since written dozens of blogs about mostly motherhood. I have a passion for writing. My 20-year career has grown through some form of writing including TV news reporting and producing, magazine publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, blogging and my current day job doing HR and employee communications for a Fortune 300 FinTech company. I am thankful that Jacksonville has such a supportive community for moms like me, and I can't imagine raising my two boys anywhere else.

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