I think I could write a whole blog on sunscreen alone and how important it is for a day at the beach. Wow, who knew so much went into a little bottle. So, here’s the basics: There are two types; Physical and Chemical. The Physical Sunscreen sits on the skin deflecting the sun’s rays. These tend to be friendlier to the ocean and coral reefs. Though most are natural, according to Consumer Reports people, they are less effective at protecting you from sun burn, so apply more often and they are a better choice for people with sensitive skin. The Chemical Sunscreen works as a sponge absorbing the sun’s rays. Again, according to the Consumer Reports people, the chemical sunscreens are more affective in protecting you from sunburn. Here’s the top things to think about when purchasing sunscreen. A broad- spectrum UVA and UVB is needed and SPF matters (30+ or higher for chemical, and 50+ for physical). Apply 15 minutes before going out as it takes that long to absorb into the skin and reapply every 2 hours, more if you get wet or are sweating. For more information regarding the ratings from Consumer Reports see below.


2. Beach Towel

Towels – To me the perfect towel is a matter of choice. I prefer a towel that is larger than I am. Whether lounging on the sand or in some sort of chair, I want a place for all my body parts. If your towel is too short or not wide enough some part of you gets neglected. The next choice you must make is either a terry towel or a microfiber towel. They are both soft and absorbent. The pros to a terry towel are the multiple designs and colors they come in, and the availability. The cons are that once wet they are difficult to dry quickly, and they seem to collect a ton of sand once wet. The microfiber towels although more expensive and harder to find, solve a multitude of beach issues. They hold 4 times their weight in water, they dry uber quick, and most importantly wet or dry the sand falls right off. howluckyami carries both versions of these towels in fun, bright Florida colors. You can actually save by ordering 4 at a time- use code 4pool at check out! Shop: www.howluckyami.org 

3. Beach Chair/ Lounger

Here’s the question, do you like to lounge or sit? 

Either one is a good choice but, it’s harder to tan your backside in a chair. Nowadays, beach chairs have become pretty slick in their design. Most come with a strap for easy toting. Other things to consider when purchasing your chair/lounger are pockets, a cup holder, a place to hold your umbrella, and a built-in pillow. You’ll have less to carry if you pre-fill the pockets, and you’ll never be chasing the pillow down the beach. 

3. Cooler

The Cooler – There’s literally thousands of coolers to choose from. So are a couple factors to consider…..

Size- What am I putting in it and for how many? Do I want to carry it or roll it? Size of course is your choice and a no-brainer but, the carrying or rolling requires more thought. Two things you must think about: One, nothing hurts worse than carrying a heavy cooler when you’ve had some sun, and two most coolers with wheels are NOT Florida, sandy beach friendly. However, there have been some very forward-thinking cooler manufacturers and they now make them with large, softer wheels for ease on the sand. A couple of choices I like are the Igloo Island Breeze 28 and the Arctic Zone Ultra.

If you are Going out for just an hour howluckyami has the perfect size cooler. It holds up to 6 bottles with enough room left over for a snack or two. Find this cooler at one of our 3 locations! www.howluckyami.org

4. Shade!

Another great choice and a necessity is some sort of tent or beach umbrella, especially if you are going to make a day of it. There is a plethora of great choices these days, so you can make your own judgement based on need. I call this a necessity as too much sun and fun is possible and at some point, throughout the day you should seek some shade. If you’re like me I tend to get sleepy and napping in the sun has been, on more than one occasion, one of the things I tend to regret for a good week after as I am burnt! My favorites are the G4Free Easy Set Up and the SunShack Pop Up Beach Shade, Blueshore Beach Tent, and Horizon Outdoor Tent. I like these first, because they are cool looking and second, for their functionality. 

5. Sunglasses

Do not forget the Sunglasses!! I remember growing up, sunglasses were not generally worn until you had reached a certain age…or certain level of popularity. Times have changed!

Today, research has shown that all ages should be wearing sun protective lenses, especially near water, or on a beach. The sun that affects your vision isn’t from looking directly into the sun (although a few choose to do this – so don’t), but it is the reflection off of the sun off of the water and sand that is damaging. You don’t have to go crazy and buy the whole family the most expensive brands- just purchase reasonably priced glasses that do the job. Just a quick note, cheap sunglasses that are not up to par can be just as damaging to your eyes as wearing nothing at all. So make sure they are affordable and good quality- not just cheap!

6. Food and Entertainment

Packing What You Need – This all depends on who’s with you, and what you enjoy doing. I like to read, so that’s the first item I pack… a book, and magazines, after all one or the other might be boring. The next is toys, young and old enjoy playing games on the beach, so don’t be afraid to bring your own pail and shovel, plus whatever else you like. The most important part of the beach experience is food/drink…it doesn’t even matter how long you plan to stay. My general rule is to pack lots of water, and fruits that are hydrating, such as watermelon. Something else to consider, so you can leave the heavy lifting to someone else, pick a spot on your favorite beach near a food shack. Coquina Beach Café, Manatee Beach (Holmes Beach), Anna Maria Island Moose Lodge (Membership Required), The Beach House Restaurant, The Tiki Bar & Grill, and The Sand Bar are but a few of the choices with beach access. There’s a lot more choices within walking distance. Here’s the best part they also have RESTROOMS! Some restaurants will also deliver right to the beach, so think long and hard about over filing the cooler, as again someone must transport it. As for hard drinks, on most beaches here in Anna Maria Island it’s illegal to drink alcohol. If this is important to you, again picking the right beach spot is necessary. Slipping away for a quick Pina Colada solves two issues: One you are refreshed, and two, use the time at the bar to get out of the sun for a bit. The restaurants and food shacks mentioned previously all have a bar or serve adult beverages. 

7. Miscellaneous Items…

howluckyami flip flops in sand on florida beach

These last couple items are miscellaneous but, I have found that these are indeed items that are a must have. A waterproof cover for your phone. Having dropped more than one phone into some sort of water, it totally makes sense to spend the $10-$20 on a protective cover. Want some tunes…any number of manufacturers make weatherproof small speakers. Just remember that sound carries further near or on the water and your choice of music may not be your neighbors. The other is what I call beachy coverings…a hat and a cover-up. The hat is especially necessary if your hair is challenging and it’s good to protect your face too. As for cover-ups, the choices are in the millions, so who am I to tell anyone what to wear. Although, a light-colored cotton or a SPF protecting topper is probably the better choice. Footwear, most think any old pair of flip flops will do the job but, in my vast experience plastic is best. The sand washes right off. howluckyami has some very fabulous options for your beach cover ups and flip flops! Our exclusive SPF 50 Resort Wear is available at our Holmes Beach and our Bridge Street locations. Shop flip flops here- https://howluckyami.org/?s=flip+flops

Happy Beaching! Come visit our shops when you are visiting Anna Maria Island- we’d love to say hi!

  • Samantha Heil, Co- Owner, howluckyami