The curse of Juneuary has lifted and the official start of summer saw Metro Vancouver gifted with a hot weather warning which can only mean one thing (stay safe and hydrated obviously but also), beach days! The coming evenings and weekends spent under the sun and by the water will remind us all why we live here the other nine months of the year. Like some sort of blissful amnesia.
We've already covered where to shop for the best beach bags, now we've got the goods to stuff into said bags. In addition to the basics like keys, wallet, phone and headphones which we never leave our homes without anyway these days, there are a few beachy extras to pack when heading out for a day in the sun. You may notice there is no Bluetooth speaker on this list and that's because I don't think the beach should turn into a battle of the boomboxes; don't be that person that ruins everyone else's peace.
With that said, here are our top 12 beach bag essentials.
Turkish towels are superior in every way imaginable. They double as a beach blanket much more comfortably than a regular towel, they get softer over time, they're more absorbent and they dry faster. They also have the benefit of being more stylish and durable than standard beach towels. This B.C. brand out of Tofino has a few options, as does this North Vancouver Turkish towel small business.
No beach day is complete without a book. Reading hits different in the heart of a storm by the fire and on the beach as a summer read fills you internally with sunshine - those are the peak experiences and no one can change my mind. Canadian author and former editor of Refinery29 Carley Fortune released her debut novel a few months ago set during the summers in Ontario cottage country and it is a great summer read. There are plenty of summer reading lists to peruse for your next book but for those who don't want to have to choose just one, the best e-reader for the beach is the Kobo Forma. It has easy access to Canadian libraries for borrowing e-books, is waterproof, and is easy to read in sunlight. The Kindle paperwhite is also a good beach e-reader.
The world of water bottles has exploded with different technologies and advancements in recent years. They have airtight seals and the capacity to keep things cold or hot for long periods of time but some also come with crazy price tags. By and large, the Hydroflask seems to rank highest for effectiveness and value for money but Swell bottles are lighter and come in an array of designs, including some with straws.
We all know sun protection is important, we're adults after all. But there's more to sunscreen than just the spray or cream for the body. There are also face-specific SPFs and lip balms with built-in protection which is just as important. The Supergoop Glowscreen that comes in two tints is a cult favourite but I also love the Origins Ginzing SPF 40 Energy-Boosting Tinted Moisturizer. For lips, I recommend the Supergoop Play Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai or the Body Shop Vitamin E Lip Care SPF 15. For body sunscreen, there are a lot of great ones out there so just make sure it's reef safe.
A recent TikTok declared that President's Choice was Canada's version of Trader Joe's. It's not as good, of course, but it is a great place to find snacks that are inventive, delicious, and can be easily thrown in a beach bag like the honey Dijon chips (or really any of the chip flavours), the peanut butter-filled pretzels, popcorn bars, or blueberry nut clusters. Check out TikTok for other people weighing in on this too. Outside of PC, the coconut cream Larabars also scream beach bag snack to me.
We have covered statement sunglasses but they're more for fashion than surviving a day at the beach so my go-to would be something polarized with UVA and UVB protection that's not likely to fall off my face if I'm running around and that will clean easily if I drop them in the sand. These ones from Amazon are an affordable basic pair.
Duh. Personally, I'm partial to the wide-brimmed sunhat. Straw is more breathable and classic and I think this Simons one is a great dupe for the Free People one. If you're more of a baseball cap person then you could always steal one from your partner or your dad but if you insist on your own, then Lululemon, Aritzia, and Simons all have you covered so take your pick. As for bucket hats, I can't help you. I'm sure they look super cute on you but I look like a toddler who lost their mom so you're on your own.
The girls who get it, get it and the ones who don't, don't. We can leave it at that. Here is my go-to for the summer.
Claw clip/hair tie
I'd love to replicate that moment where Ariel flips her hair out of the water but alas I am a mere mortal. If I were to try that in the ocean my hair would immediately tangle and there'd be no saving it. I always keep something on hand to put it up before going in the water, so that even if I dunk under it will keep my hair from attacking itself. Ideally to protect your hair from breakage or unnecessary shedding you'd use a claw clip or a scrunchie.
So you didn't pack the last essential and didn't heed my warning about the Ariel thing either? Well then pack a portable hairbrush. There are lots of variations on this idea but my favourite is the kind that folds into a compact with a little mirror; I keep mine in my purse at all times. If you have thicker hair and the little bristles won't cut it, Tangle Teezer also has a travel brush but they're pricey.
You're phone overheating can really mess with the battery so, on top of keeping it in the shade, it's good to have a portable charger on-hand. I'm sure most of us already have one kicking around somewhere but if you don't this is the highest-rated for the best value and is light enough to slip in a beach bag with all this other stuff.
Something to throw
You know, so you can recreate your own version of that scene from Top Gun (either movie). Be it a Frisbee, beach ball, volleyball, or water football, it's essential that someone has some sort of throwing/catching thing to really round out a perfect beach day. A disc or deflatable ball are the easiest to fit in a beach bag though.