MUST HAVES for St. Augustine Beach Days {or: How to enjoy the beach with kids}

This post contains affiliate links for my list of MUST HAVES for St. Augustine Beach Days. Click here to read my full disclosure.

st augustine beach with kids

We weren’t beach people before Wesley joined the family. Either the 7th kid finally made me crazy enough to love bringing home more sand than the average schoolyard sandbox or being a mamma for 17 years has allowed me to work out the kinks and become a “how to enjoy the beach with kids” expert. I prefer the latter. LOL

Truth is, we’ve tried it all and finally know when to go, what to take, and… here’s the key… when to leave the beach so that it’s the best experience possible for all of us.

First, when to go. We all know too much sun is bad for the skin. We also all know what a pain it is to reapply sunscreen a bajillion times on wet & sandy kids. The spray on stuff runs and the rub-in stuff painfully digs sand into the skin. The easy solution? Go early. Not sunrise early. Just wake-up, grab-the-beach-bag {more on that below}, plus-water-and-muffins-for-breakfast then-dash-out-the-door early. At our house, that’s like 8:00 early. We have a 25 minute drive to the beach and our goal is to:

  • arrive before the crowds or after everyone goes home (4pm or later)
  • play before the sun gets too strong
  • leave before lunch so I don’t have to eat sandy sandwiches!

What to take is the part I’ve recently achieved expert status in. Seriously, I feel like a beach ninja with my awesome gear!!

  • Cool Cabana – This sets-up-in-4-minutes tent changed my world. It has 8 pockets to hold all of our cell phones and water bottles up out of the sand and uses sand to anchor itself instead of stakes. I’ve used it on windy days and it’s sturdy enough for the winds before the storm (but don’t leave it set up during a legit Florida afternoon thunderstorm).
  • Monkey Mat – If it was cool enough for Shark Tank, you know it’s gotta be legit. The quilted mat is waterproof and it folds into its own teeny tiny, attached bag. Seriously, this thing is brilliant and eliminates the need for bulky chairs.
  • Rash Guards – These loose-fitting UV resistant shirts are great for everyone, not just the kids. If you get these, you only have to sunscreen faces and legs.
  • Good sunscreen – We’re trying Badger Sunscreen (that’s the same link twice because you really should check it out) for the first time with good results so far. It only has 6 ingredients so it’s good enough for those with sensitive skin but it’s strong enough to keep my fair redhead from burning.
  • Awesome beach toys – Olde Towne Toys on US1 is my local source for toys- and I LOVE the Great Castle Walls, Parthenon, Pyramid and Taj Mahal sandcastle toys they stock in the summer. If you’re going to build sand castles, you may as well build awesome sand castles!!
  • Boogie Board with slick bottom – You need the slick plastic bottom for two reasons: 1) you can pile all your junk on it and pull it and it will still slide 2) they go faster and faster = more fun!
  • OR Beach Cart with Big wheels – If you have room in the garage, room in the trunk and room in the budget, go ahead and get a cart. When you get home, hose everything off and re-stock the cart so the next time Beach Fever hits you, you can grab it and go!!

When to leave is the hard part. You’ve gotta leave while it’s still fun. Hear me out… if you wait until everyone is “done”, the kids won’t help you carry stuff back to the car, they’ll complain about the hot sand and how itchy it is and they’re hungry and thirsty and, by the way, that was the worst beach trip ever. We always leave around 11:00 because I have a house full of white, white, white babies and a family history of skin cancer. We don’t play. Well, we do play… but not with the sun. You know what I mean. LOL

Ok! Those are my mom of seven beach hacks! Have fun out there… and if you disregard all that and bring a cooler, would you please pack a La Croix for me? 😉

~Allie O.


  1. says

    Thanks for sharing!
    The beach cart with the big wheels should be equipped for kids first because it can be used to carry all the others.

    • says

      Genius! You need to invent a beach cart w/a toddler seat, John!! 🙂 ~Allie O.

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