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As I was organizing some photos from last week’s visit to Port Aransas, I began thinking of how I prepared for our long days by the water and exploring around town. I had packed a large tote bag for the day and was prepared with everything the kids and I needed, including all the beach necessities.

With a little forethought and prep, I felt super prepared with our beach bag packing situation, so I want to share a few of my favorite items that I love to take with me to the beach. Hopefully this will help you prepare your ‘I’ve-got-everything-we-need’ bag for the next day on the sand.

Most importantly, find a tote bag that is large enough to hold everything. Depending on the size of your family and needs, you may be able to pack it all in an over-the-shoulder straw bag or need the extra room in an extra-large handle tote. I found my latest favorite tote bag in Port Aransas at Casa A Mano (similar bag here) and it’s beautiful colors are perfect for year-round use. Love it!

What's in my Beach Bag | Port Aransas Explorer

TIP: Never leave home without water and snacks. Given that South Texas is blessed with warm temperatures most of the year, you’ll want to stay well-hydrated in the heat. When we arrive at the beach, the kids are usually swimming for a couple of hours which means they’ll inevitably come out of the water hungry. So I bring a large insulated water bottle to keep ice water cold, and a few easy-to-eat snacks like Baked Lays chips and Smartfood popcorn.

What to pack in your beach bag

black and green stripe flip flops on white sand

1 | Lightweight flip flops

Exploring around town or on the sand calls for some comfortable shoes. In the heat of the day, the sand can get hot, so pack lightweight flip flops or sandals. The pair I’ve been wearing this Summer are these, which go well with practically any outfit. Comfort is key at the coast, and these similar styles slide on and off quickly to protect your feet from the hot sand.

TIP: My favorite flip-flop shops in Port Aransas are Third Coast Beach, BoJon’s or The BoardHouse Surf & Skate.

2 | Turkish beach towels

One of my favorite beach luxuries is a great towel. Part beach blanket, part cover up, these towels are certainly multipurpose on our visits to the sand. Our favorites are these Capri Fouta Beach Towels. They run a little higher than the average towel, but you’ll find but these towels are huge, crazy soft, beautiful, and truly high quality. I ordered a set of 4 to keep on hand for the beach. 

What's in my Beach Bag | Port Aransas Explorer

3 | Insulated water bottle or cup

Water is life, for real. I never leave the house without water, tea or drink of some kind in my hand. My go-to water bottle that keeps my drink ice cold all day is the HydroFlask. I’ve tried several, like the stainless steel Yeti cups and Swell reusable bottles, but the size and drinking spout on the HydroFlask makes it my favorite by far.

In the heat of the day on the beach in Port Aransas, dehydration is the one thing that will sour your party fast. So keep cold drinks handy (my ice lasts for hours in this bottle!) and refill it often if you’re in the sun all day. If you’re like me, you grow to love your HydroFlask water bottle and take it everywhere you go.

RELATED: Tips for Taking Your Dog to the Beach

4 | Beach cover up

The ease of a crisp white linen cover-up shirt at the beach is unbeatable. When it’s hot, humid, and I’m feeling sandy, I love anything loose, linen and breathable when it comes to a cover-up. This is one fashionable must-have that’s always in my beach bag.

What's in my Beach Bag sunglasses | Port Aransas Explorer
My new favorite Goodr sunglasses

5 | Fun sunglasses

Don’t be blinded by the sun reflecting off the water or the sand. Protect your eyes from UV rays at the beach with some seriously good sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun and highlight the beautiful colors of your waterfront or sunset view.

Last week in Port Aransas, I realized that I forgot to bring my sunglasses. Yikes, it’s so bright! So I stopped in the Balinese Wellness Spa and discovered these fantastic, no-slip, polarized sunglasses by Goodr in so many fun colors. I’ve worn them every day since then. I love how chic they are and the pop of color to the frames!

6 | Sunscreen

As the mother of fair-skinned children, I’m always singing the praises of good sunscreen. And let me say, not all sunscreen is created equal. From sheer to waterproof, lotion versus spray, I believe we’ve tried every brand of sunscreen on the market to find the one that works the best.

My family knows that my sunscreen rules are these:

  1. Wear sunscreen stick on your face. It’s less like to be wiped off so easily.
  2. If you’re playing on the sand or on land, you can use a sunscreen spray.
  3. If you’re playing in the water, you’ve got to use a water-resistant lotion.

Our family sunscreen favorites have been narrowed down to 3 brands: Sun Bum, SuperGoop and Neutrogena.

Sun Bum sunscreen smells tropical (aka amazing) like bananas and coconuts, and can be found in most surf shops (my favorite is the Sun Bum sunscreen stick).

SuperGoop makes a fabulous facial sunscreen, and can be found in many beach boutiques.

Neutrogena has a great sheer dry sunscreen spray lotion that is a great option for the whole family and is widely-available in most drugstores.

RELATED: National Sunscreen Day and Why You May be Using Sunscreen Wrong

7 | Hair ties, scrunchies

Humid weather and warm gulf breezes can wreak havoc on my naturally-curly hair, so I always put it up with a hair tie when I’m at the beach in Port Aransas. I have hair ties stashed everywhere (like these) it seems and my beach bag is no exception.

These are a few of my favorite hair ties and scrunchies to grab in a pinch and style a quick updo when the humidity makes my hair go poof.

8 | Sun hat or visor

Hat or visor, either is a good choice for keeping the sun off your face while you’re enjoying a day on the sand. Not only are sun hats fun to wear when showing off your seaside style, there are so many styles and colors to choose from to complement your personality. Be sure to toss a hat of some kind in your beach bag for the day.

When I’m wearing my hair up in a ponytail, I typically choose to wear a cute straw visor like this one, but my other favorite style is this woven seagrass fedora. Any type of hat will help give extra protection from the sun. These styles are also great for taming that ‘I-just-came-from-the-beach’ hair.

RELATED: 7 Ways to be Kind to the Beach in Port Aransas

9 | Lip balm with SPF

There’s nothing worse than dry, chapped lips on a hot day on the beach. So be sure to toss some lip balm with SPF into your beach bag for the day. One sign of dehydration is dry lips, so protect yours with a great tasting lip balm from Sun Bum, Fresh or SuperGoop. The best!

10 | Entertainment

When I take the kids to the beach, it’s inevitable that I’m going to take TONS of pictures of the kids and the view, and stream some laid-back beach music to really relax. It doesn’t take long for those two things to drain my iPhone battery.

So in my beach bag I’ll toss my Bose bluetooth speaker and my portable battery charger (I never travel without it) to keep my iPhone from dying.

RELATED: 60 Feel-Good Songs for When You’re Missing the Beach

What's in my Beach Bag in Port Aransas | www.portaransasrex.com

So what do you pack? Did I forget anything?

These are my essentials for my ‘we’re-going-to-spend-the-day-at-the-beach’ bag. Hopefully, this list inspires you to rethink and re-pack your beach bag in a more organized way, so you’ll never be without what you need and you can relax at the coast.

See you at the beach!

What I Always Pack in my Beach Bag | Port Aransas Explorer
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MY FAVORITE BEACH PICKS

About the Author

Jill Clark is the founder of Port Aransas Explorer, which is one of the best local blogs about Port Aransas, Texas. She believes that adventure can be found both near and far, and hopes to inspire others to explore Port Aransas like a local. While living in San Antonio, Jill explores more of island living every year and enjoys sharing her family's experiences with local events and hotspots.

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