Tips for a Great Beach Day

A day at the beach doesn’t require much, and while you can settle into the sand in nearly any fashion you want, there is the gear you can bring and tips you can follow to make your beach time more comfortable and memorable.  So read on for our advice on how to do a San Diego beach day like an expert. 


How much you want to carry with you to the beach is up to you and partly depends on how long you plan to spend with your toes in the sand. Below is a list of items to consider when packing for a successful beach day.

tips for a great beach day

Towel, Beach Blanket, or Beach Mat – Sand has a way of getting everywhere.  In addition to drying off after you get out of the water, a towel or blanket is a good idea to give you a place to rest that won’t leave you covered in sand.  You can also find straw beach mats in many of the beachside stores.  These are nice because they allow sand to fall through the mat making them easier to keep sand free than a towel.  Often you’ll find people using both a towel and a mat.

Sunscreen – Sunscreen is a must!  Even on a cloudy day with no sun in sight, invisible UV rays still penetrate through the clouds.  Protect your skin and reapply sunscreen often, especially after sweating or getting out of the water.  Most sunscreens, even high SPF waterproof varieties suggest reapplying every few hours.

Sunglasses and Shade – The beach is full of reflective surfaces.  The water and sand both reflect the sun’s rays making the beach hotter and brighter than you may have expected.  Sunglasses, hats, umbrellas and tents are all great ways to keep yourself cool and protected from the sun.

Drinks and Snacks – Sun, salt, heat, and beach activities are all recipes for dehydration.  Make sure you pack plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day.  Bringing your own snacks is a good idea too.  While there are many beachside restaurants and cafes, the walk back from the beach might seem longer than it looks while trekking through thick sand.  If you plan to stay awhile, a cooler with a few non-alcoholic beverages and your favorite foods will ensure you can maximize your time on the beach.

Beach Chair – When it comes to beach time, there are two types of people.  Those who sit, and those who lay.  If you’d prefer a more upright view of the beach, a beach chair is a good idea.  There are many different types available for affordable prices.  Most beach chairs are light, low to the ground, and collapse for easy carrying.  Some even come with built-in coolers, pockets or backpack straps to lighten your load.  Don’t have a chair?  Not to worry, with a shovel, or even just your hands, you can shape the sand to create yourself a fine sand lounge chair.  Build up a backrest, put your towel over the top and enjoy.

Beach Toys – Plastic buckets and sand shovels aren’t just for kids, don’t underestimate the fun of building a sandcastle or hunting for tiny sand crabs.  The variety of beach toys and games are nearly endless.  From a simple Frisbee, to smash ball sets, Bacchi ball, volleyball, and more the beach is a great place to get in a game with friends and family.  Just keep in mind that during summer space may be limited and games that require a lot of clearance or have tiny pieces that are easily lost may not be the best.


The beach is a public space that comes with a few rules.  Below are the items that are not allowed or are better left at home or in your hotel.

Alcohol, Cigarettes and Drugs – All San Diego beaches are non-smoking, and nearly all of them outlaw alcoholic beverages as well.   Police regularly monitor the beaches, especially in the summer months and are quite adept at spotting beachgoers breaking the rules.  If it’s not legal in San Diego, if you need to be over 21 to drink it, or if gives off smoke (this includes e-cigarettes and vaporizers) then it has no place on the beach.

Glass – Glass is not allowed on San Diego beaches.  This includes soda bottles, water bottles and containers made of glass.  Stick to cans and plastic, everyone’s bare feet will thank you.

Pets – San Diego beaches vary in their allowance of pets and animals.  There are a few San Diego beaches designated as dog friendly, while others only allow pups on a leash during specific hours.  Before you pack up your pet for a day on the sand, make sure you research your destination’s pet policy.

Valuables – Because the beach is a public space that means it’s open to anyone, including thieves.  While most beaches are relatively safe, don’t be an easy target by leaving your wallet or technology like tablets, smartphones, and e-readers within plain view.  Better yet, don’t bring these items at all.  Water, sand and electronics don’t mix, and if you must have your wallet or cell phone nearby, there are waterproof cases that allow you to keep these items with you at all times.  Or, if you’re with a group, designate one person to keep an eye on everyone’s belongings at all times.   A good rule is, if you like it, don’t leave it on the sand.


You’re all packed up and ready to go.  When you arrive at the beach, here are a few pieces of advice to keep in mind.  Follow these tips to be a safe and courteous beachgoer.

Be Aware – Read any posted signs and listen for lifeguard warnings and announcements.  Beach conditions can change minute to minute and it’s the lifeguards’ job to understand the conditions and keep everyone safe.  Know where your closest lifeguard station is in case you need help and cooperate with all posted rules and regulations, they’re there for a reason.

Mind The Tides – Ocean tides can change multiple times during the day.  And depending on the beach, the sand can disappear completely at certain times of the day.  When you’re scouting out a piece of sand to call your own, keep an eye on what part of the sand is wet and which is dry.  If the sand looks like it was wet in the past few hours, it may be again soon.  If you’re unsure if you’re in the clear, ask a lifeguard and select a space where you, and your belongings, will stay dry all day.

Shuffle Your Feet – If you decide to take a dip in the ocean, proceed with caution.  Go slowly and shuffle your feet through the sand as you’re entering the water.  This will give any ocean creatures a heads up that you’re coming, and avoid any accidental stings or bites.  Shuffling your feet cautiously can also keep you from running into rocks or shells that aren’t visible from the surface of the water.  And if you’re not a strong swimmer or familiar with the ocean, it’s always a good idea to stay where you can stand.  That way if you’re knocked over by a wave or pulled by a current, you’ll be able to get back to your feet.

Don’t Tempt The Birds – Much like pigeons in a big city, seagulls are used to a human presence at the beach and are well aware of the delicious snacks they often bring.  Many seagulls are not afraid of humans and can be bold in their search for food.  Keep an eye out and your snacks are put away unless you want to be the center of a flock.

Be A Good Neighbor – The beach is a communal place, so be mindful of those around you.  If you shake out your towel, make sure the sand won’t blow directly onto your neighbor.  Feel free to bring music, but keep the volume to a reasonable level.  The same goes for conversations and games.  Everyone can have a good time even on a crowded beach day if you mind those around you.

Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints – It can be tempting to take a souvenir seashell home from the beach, but remember, the beach is a living ecosystem.  Every shell and rock has its place and purpose, and removing even one small piece can upset the balance.  Pick up after yourself and leave the beach cleaner than you found it.  That way the next time you come visit, the same lovely beach will be waiting for you.