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To me, there is nothing like a relaxing beach vacation. Lounging on a chaise sitting in the water with a fruity adult beverage in your hand, that’s what I call paradise.
We have taken many trips to the Caribbean and have learned what is essential and what can stay at home. There’s no sense in packing stuff you aren’t going to use only to bring it back home with you. Sure, you need to take swimsuits, clothes, toiletries, and so on. But there are some essentials that we take on every beach trip that are absolute musts. We call them our five essentials.
1. Eco-Friendly Sunblock
Many moons ago, I went on my first family beach trip with Charlie’s family to Fort Morgan, Alabama. Being from California, I thought I knew it all about the beach and sun protection, and I was so wrong. After a week in the sun, on the pure white sand, and using little sun protection, I was the lovely shade of a fire engine. I was also in a considerable amount of pain for months, having to use burn cream and take painful baths in vinegar and water to heal myself. I learned my lesson, always use sunblock, ALWAYS!
While there are hundreds of sunblocks on the market, there are few that are marine friendly. In other words, they do not damage the fragile marine ecosystems and reefs in the oceans. Why is this important, and why should you care?
Well, the amount of damage done to the marine environment from the toxins in sunblock and body products is staggering. A large amount of the damage done to the reefs around the world is a result of the chemicals in body products, including sunblock. Some of the chemicals in many sunblock products accelerate the bleaching process in coral reefs, which ultimately kill them. Once the reefs are dead, they will not come back, which has a detrimental effect on the marine ecosystem as many fish, turtles, etc., depend on the reefs for food and safety from predators.
Badger sunblock is a great organic and eco-safe product. Deet free and biodegradable, it’s safe for marine ecosystems and won’t harm coral reefs. HORRAY for the fish and reefs! Plus, with the bonus of bug repellent and broad-spectrum SPF 34, it keeps you sun-safe for at least 40 minutes and bug bite-free. Not only is it Non-GMO, but the tube is also BPA and phthalate-free and made from number 2 recyclable plastic, which means it won’t end up in a landfill. Another win for the environment!
Made with a certified organic base of Beeswax, Castor Oil, and Olive Oil, it is not only safe for the whole family, but it’s also super moisturizing, which is a bonus when you spend as much time in the sun as we do. Badger makes sure that not only is your skin protected, but it stays moisturized.
2. Packable Hats
If sunblock is the first line of defense against sun damage, then wearing a hat is second. While the sunscreen will protect your skin, what is going to protect your head? I know it sounds kind of weird, sun protection for your head, but it is easier than you think to get a sunburned scalp, especially if you’re a little “light” up top. Plus, who wants premature wrinkles from sun damage to your face? Certainly not me!
For lounging on the beach or swinging in a hammock, I love the Funky Junke “Resting Beach Face” hat. The broad brim keeps my face covered, and it’s super easy to pack. Of course, the cuteness factor is important too, and who could resist the phrase on the brim? Why not have some humor on the beach too?
When we get more active and want to venture out and do some zip-lining or exploring, I prefer something a little more active like a baseball cap. The problem with most baseball caps is they don’t pack easily, and if they get wet, they take forever to dry.
The Ellewin Quick Dry Baseball cap is not only super easy to pack, but it also folds right up, and it has an SPF protection of 50. I can roll this hat up and stick it in my backpack, and it saves space in my luggage, and I have it when we land.
There have been many times when we have traveled to the Caribbean that it’s raining when we land, and we deboard outside, so having a hat handy is super helpful. With the fast-drying fabric, if it gets wet, it’s no problem. I just hang it outside, and it’s dry in no time at all.
3. Eye Protection
By now, you see a theme here, protect your skin, head, and, most importantly, your eyes.
The amount of glare that can come off of the sand at the beach is staggering. The effect of UV radiation and sun damage is considerably higher on beaches as it is elsewhere due to the reflection of the sun off the sand and water. The same goes for destinations in the snow.
If you’ve ever walked along a white sand beach, you know how bright the glare can be. It can do significant damage to your eyes, especially children’s eyes if you don’t protect them.
While Charlie and I both have UV protection on our eyeglasses and Transitions lenses, Charlie also has a great pair of Costa sunglasses. Costa sunglasses have long been a staple on beaches from California to the Caribbean and for a good reason. They provide UVA/UVB protection along with having polarized lenses, which are scratch proof. There is a multitude of styles to choose from, including the unisex style shown here.
Have you ever been with someone who says, “Look at those fish,” and you can’t see them? More than likely, your sunglasses don’t have polarized lenses. A good pair of polarized lenses will not only help with the glare but also they are amazing at helping to see the beautiful fish in the water, especially if it’s a bit murky.
Inexpensive sunglasses may be cute and fashionable, but do they do anything to protect your eyes from the sun? Over time, the sun can do considerable damage to the retinas of your eyes, which may or may not be reversible. If you’re going to spend money somewhere, quality sunglasses are a smart investment. Be sure to look for scratch-resistant glass lenses as plastic lenses tend to scratch much easier. Your eyes will thank you!
4. Eco-Friendly Bug Repellant
While spending the day diving or hanging out on the beach calls for sunblock, we don’t need it in the evening hours. That’s typically when the “noseeums” start to get us. If you live in the south, have been to the south or the Caribbean, you know what I mean. Those nasty, annoying little flying teeth that you don’t see, but they are continually biting you. That’s a noseeum!
The same folks that have excellent organic, eco-friendly sunblock also have great bug repellent products. Badger Anti Bug Balm is certified organic and safe for the whole family. It’s tested to repel both mosquitoes, and stable flies plus product reviews have shown promise for repelling fleas as well. Made with Citronella, Rosemary, and Cedar essential oils, the product comes in a recyclable tin and is similar in texture to a waxy balm but goes on quite smooth.
If you prefer a spray, Badger has you covered there as well. Their Anti-Bug Shake and Spray is a great option. The product comes in a recyclable aluminum container, which is lightweight enough for travel. Made with Citronella, Rosemary, and Wintergreen essential oils, it is proven to repel mosquitoes.
Both products are 100% Deet free and safe for the environment and fragile marine ecosystems. No matter which one you prefer, they are sure to keep you bite-free without the addition of harmful chemicals. And, in the off chance that you get a bite here or there, Badger After Bug Balm stick is an organic, safe product to use to help alleviate the effects of bug bites.
5. Beach Friendly Camera
If you’re planning any time near the water, I recommend investing in a camera that is safe in the water as well as on land. Whether you’re going to the beach, waterfall, or snow-covered mountain, you’ll be able to take amazing pictures and have great memories to share.
There are amazing cameras build specifically for diving. Still, if you don’t intend on going diving, I recommend the Nikon Coolpix AW130 as an option that can be used both underwater and on land.
The AW130 is waterproof to 100 feet, which makes it perfect for the beginner diver (like me) who doesn’t go super deep on dives. It also makes it an excellent camera for snorkeling as it is a true point and shoot and easy to manipulate underwater. Also, if you are a snow lover, it is safe down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit which means you can take all the fantastic pictures you want on the slopes without worry. The fact that it is shockproof for drops up to 7 feet makes it great for the outdoorsman as well.
With a 5x optical wide-angle zoom lens, you are sure to get great photos regardless of the conditions. A bonus is it has built-in wi-fi, which makes it super easy to share photos directly from the camera to your email or social media as long as you have a connection. Plus, with built-in GPS, mapping, electronic compass, and a point of interest (POI) function, you are sure to find your way and some great photo opportunities.
We love the beach and always will so we don’t ever take a beach trip without our essentials.
Whether it’s down the road or across the ocean, having the essentials can make the difference between a great beach vacation and a not so great one.
Now, hit the sand and surf, stay protected, and make some great memories along the way. The beach is calling, answer the call, and have a fantastic time!