Hi, friends! Excited to be back today and sharing pictures from a fun-filled day at VA Beach from this summer. Since I gained quite a bit of experience making day trips to the beach (it was an hour drive from where I lived), in addition to my beach day outfit, I thought I’d also share my tried and true list of what to pack in case you have any beachy destinations in your future!
First things first, let’s talk about swimsuits! I was definitely one of those girls that bought all the different colored bikinis from Target and have accumulated quite the collection since high school. But for someone who considers herself to be fairly conservative person (even more so as I’ve gotten older), I’ve been wearing more and more one-pieces. And with the recent come-back of this more conservative style, there are so many different options to choose from so that you don’t have to compromise on style.
This one from J. Crew is a new summer favorite that I love for its classic simplicity yet modern sexiness (without being overdone or overly promiscuous). And I also love this strapless one I wore earlier this summer and this colorful one that I wore in Austin, TX…both of which I’ve had for years (from Target!).
I love black swimming suits in particular because I feel like they are classic and never go out of style, meaning you don’t have to buy a new suit each season. I also love that you can pair them with anything pre-/post-beach to create a look that is just as appropriate for weekend-ing after the beach as it is for lounging in the sand.
For instance, here I’ve simply paired my black one-piece swimming suit with a white denim skirt and a red neck scarf for a look that takes you straight from the beach to dinner on the boardwalk. Add on a fun pair of sandals, a light sweater, and a statement clutch (that doubles as a keeper of things in your beach bag during the day), and you’re ready for an evening of fun without the need to go all the way home first (which is essential if you’ve got an hour drive like I did and want to make the most of your day trip 🙂 ).
And while it may not seem like prime beach season now that we are going into the fall season, there are some serious sales currently going on for swimming suits and cover-ups! So if you have been eyeing one, I’d jump on the lower prices if you are in the market for anything beachy. (I’ve listed a few of my favorites at the bottom of the post!) This exact swimming suit isn’t available, but there is an almost identical one here that comes in a variety of colors by the same brand.
What To Pack for a Day at the Beach
Like I mentioned above, VA Beach was about an hour drive away for me. So when I would visit the beach on the weekends, I had to make the most of my time and bring everything I would need for the day with me. After a few weekends of trial and error, I finally settled on a list of things I wouldn’t leave home without. (If you’re quick on time, I’ve started with the 8 bare essentials and then expanded to other items below.)
1. Sunscreen. Number one item you should always, ALWAYS wear (whether you are at the beach or not)–sunscreen! I try to get the highest SPF I can find in a waterproof solution. I apply sunscreen a minimum of 15 minutes before getting into the water and reapply it every hour. Skin damage from UV rays is no joke, friends! Sunscreen is a 5 minute solution you won’t regret.
2. Towels. I always bring a minimum of 2 towels–one to sit on and one to dry off with. You may also want one to roll up and use as a makeshift pillow if you like laying down.
3. Flip Flops. I love walking in the sand with my bare feet, but I always remember to bring a pair of waterproof sandals/flip-flops with me to the beach. No one likes putting on socks and shoes when you’ve still got sand between your toes. Flip-flops aren’t the most comfortable or best shoes for your feet for long periods of time, but luckily you will only wear them to/from the car and spend most of your time with your toes in the sand.
4. Sunglasses. Protection for your eyes is just as important as protection for your skin! And makes for a much more enjoyable experience too, since the sand and water can reflect a lot of sunlight and make for a super bright environment. I like to take a cheaper pair to the beach with me so that I’m not too worried about damaging or losing them if something happens. But always make sure your sunglasses are polarized and not just tinted glass.
5. Hair Tie. Ok, ok. So not super revolutionary but I never go anywhere without a hair tie. You just never know when you will need one! Whether it’s putting your hair up for a swim in the ocean, or keeping your hair out of your face on a particularly windy day, it’s always a good idea to have a hair tie on hand.
6. Water. Another essential I don’t leave home without…WATER! Despite whether or not you are thirsty, you should be drinking lots of water while at the beach. Laying out in the sun all day can be extremely exhausting and dehydrating, so staying on top of it will ensure that you stay hydrated and healthy and feeling your best throughout the day.
7. Beach Bag. Keep everything together in a beach bag that is easy to transport to/from the car. I like bags that are waterproof (just in case rain or a big wave happens), but the main thing is to use one that you don’t mind getting sandy…because sand is inevitable on the beach and will find its way into everything!
8. Swimming Suit. Perhaps goes without saying for most people. 🙂 But even if you aren’t planning to get into the water, you never know what you’ll feel like when you get there! So I’d recommend wearing or just bringing a swimming suit with you. And with the easy styling tips I share in a section below, you can easily transform your beach day swimming attire into a trendy night time look with a few extra accessories.
Extra Sun Protection + Beach Comfort:
9. Sun hat. Hats are a great way to shield your face from the sun. Hats are also a great way to hide a bad hair day post-salty water and wind. 😉
10. Cover-up. It’s a good idea to bring a cover-up with you that you can throw on before or after the beach. I like one piece dress cover-ups (like this one or this one), but you could just as easily throw on a simple tee and athletic shorts. If you’re worried about getting too much sun exposure, a cover-up is also a great piece to throw on at the beach when you aren’t in the water to keep the sun off your skin. And they are great pieces to have if you need something quick for lunch on the boardwalk.
11. Beach chair (+ umbrella). Since I was at the beach every other weekend, I invested in beach chair–one that sits low to the ground and has an adjustable back. Definitely not something have to have, but something I would recommend if you are going to be spending lots of time at the beach (like I did). It’s incredible how much having a backrest can make (as opposed to sitting/laying on a towel) during the day, especially if you like to read books. If you don’t invest in a chair, I’d recommend bringing at least 2 towels–one for sitting on and one for drying off on after you take a dip into the ocean. Plus perhaps one more to roll up and use as a neck rest/pillow. You could also invest in a beach umbrella for extra shade.
12. Wet Wipes. May seem like an afterthought, but these puppies are lifesavers when you want to clean your hands off before eating a snack. I like them better than hand sanitizer because they don’t just strip your hands raw with alcohol and they provide an actual material to wipe away larger particles and stickiness with.
13. Magazines and/or books. It’s always a good idea to bring some light reading material with you to the beach. People watching is definitely the best part (for me at least), but I like to take little reading breaks too, as I don’t often have down time to do so during the week.
14. Music and/or podcasts (+ headphones and charger). I typically don’t listen to music or podcasts at the beach, as I much prefer to soak in the sights, sounds, and smells of beach life–like the sounds of crashing waves and hungry seagulls. But I also understand that some people love to listen to music and such while relaxing, so I’ve included it here for those of you who do! Just remember to bring your headphones and a portable phone charger if you do!
15. Beach Ball/Football + Frisbee. If you are going to the beach with friends, you might want to bring a beach ball or frisbee to throw around. There’s nothing like lots of relaxation and sitting/laying on the beach to make you want the occasional activity to get you moving! There are also usually beach volleyball courts available if you like playing pick-up games with people you meet on the beach.
Snacks & Drinks:
16. Healthy Snacks & Drinks. Junk food is always the easiest option, but I try to bring lighter, healthy snacks with me to the beach because I’ve found that those leave me feeling my best. Snacks such as caramel rice crisps, pretzels, carrots, trail mix, and dried fruit are things I typically bring with me. And while water is the best, I sometimes like to bring something fruity, like IZZE or Gatorade, with me as a fizzy treat that isn’t going to dehydrate me.
Simple Day-to-Night Details:
17. Light Sweater. A light sweater is something great to have to cover up with as it gets cooler in the evenings, especially if you are planning to walk around the boardwalk during or after sunset. But I also like to use mine during the day if I get chilly after being in the water or if a cool front moves in over the water (which can happen pretty frequently).
18. Easy Sandals. I bring flip flops for the day but throw in a pair of nicer sandals for evening strolls. Something as simple as a cute pair of leather slides goes a long way towards making an outfit more dressy for dinner (without a complete change of clothing necessary).
19. Colorful Bandana/Scarf. Another quick and simple detail that can easily transform a beach look to night is a colorful neck scarf. It adds a pop of color to your look, while making the outfit feel planned and put together (without a lot of extra effort).
20. Statement Clutch. I like to pack a cute statement clutch that doubles as a wallet in my beach bag. You definitely don’t want to bring a lot of valuables to the beach with you, but I like to bring my ID, some cash, and my phone. To keep these items dry and safe during the day (and quickly accessible, i.e. not burried under everything), I keep them in a little pouch that can be used as a clutch later in the evening.
21. Lip Balm/Stain. And finally, there’s nothing quite like a quick dab of color on your lips to make you instantly feel put together and polished for a night out. I love this lip stain by Kiehl’s which also has SPF 15 in it to protect your lips during the day too.
What about you? What do you like bringing to the beach?
You might also like…VA Beach Boardwalk and What To Pack on a Road Trip.
Photos by Jennifer Carr
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