Top Ten Tips for Great Beach Vacations With Kids

Salt Water Hermit CrabKids and beaches just go together. All that open space and the little treasures they discover as they dig in the sand…What’s not to like? Well, powerful waves that knock you over and scrape your knees, jellyfish stings and sunburn are all things we’ve experienced while enjoying sunny ocean vacations! Over the years, we’ve learned some great tips for helping make our time on the beach fun and relaxing.
Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Consider hitting the beach during the off season unless you are going for the crowds and the boardwalk. In early May or September, the beach is much less crowded than during the summer. The water isn’t quite as warm as it is in mid-August, but if the weather has been nice, it is usually warm enough for wading or a short swim.
  • When you are choosing your destination, think about how rough the waves get, especially if you are going to the beach with little ones. When we hit the Delaware beaches, we usually swim and play at Lewes and then go to Rehoboth for the boardwalk because the waves are much gentler in Lewes.
  • ¬†Brush up on first aid skills and know the signs of drowning and secondary drowning before you take your trip.You don’t want to have to depend on a busy or distracted lifeguard to keep your kids safe.
  • Bring a cooler packed with pre-washed apples, grapes and other fruits and veggies. Swimming and running gives kids an appetite, but they also get a little dehydrated. Those water filled healthy treats help them re-hydrate better than a sugary snack and, if you packed them in a few re-usable containers that stay in the cooler, you won’t have any plastic packaging blowing into the ocean for our finny friends to accidentally devour. We put re-usable water bottles filled with nice cold water in the cooler for the same reason.
  • While you are packing a beach towel for each person, throw in two or three extra hand towels. Having a child grab a sandy towel someone else was sitting on to wipe at his eyes? Ouch!
  • Have a first aid kit with you and be sure to add Aloe to it. A painful cut from a shell or the start of a sunburn can be soothed much faster with immediate treatment (and a few kisses, of course.)
  • Bring along an inexpensive camera, a magnifying glass and a sketchbook for kids to be able to look at the critters they find and record their memories, but don’t take them with you. Anything found in the ocean will need special care to survive, including the little hermit crabs you discover a few feet into the surf. These crabs are NOT the same as the ones you can buy on the boardwalk and must have sea water to survive.
  • Always be sure to anchor your beach umbrella securely. Rocking it back and forth as you push it into the sand and angling the pole slightly can help. When you feel like it is in deep enough, try to push it a little further into the sand. Barely avoiding being impaled by the neighboring umbrella is not anyone’s idea of fun, although, from experience, I can tell you that it does get your heart rate up!
  • Take a few minutes to chat with the lifeguards before heading into the water. They will know that jellyfish have been spotted in the water before you find out the hard (and painful!) way or will be able to tell you if there is anything else you should be aware of.
  • Discuss ground rules with your kids before they head into the water. Consider having a few signals they know to pay attention to for things like going too far out into the water and remind them not to get to rowdy with siblings and friends while they are swimming.

Do you have a tip for making your beach trip fun and safe that isn’t on my list? I’d love to hear it!

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