Must Have Beach Gear for Families

There’s something about a beach vacation that brings out the kid in all of us. From building sandcastles to collecting seashells, flying kites, or simply splashing in the waves, some of our best family memories have unfolded in unstructured moments of a day soaking up the sun and the surf.

While our friends at have assembled a comprehensive list of toys to keep toddlers entertained on a vacation that takes advantage of their family-friendly packages that give mom and dad a much-needed break, we would like to make a few gear suggestions for slightly older kids and pre-teens.

On a recent trip to the Big Island in Hawaii, we learned the local pharmacy sells laminated color guides of popular reef fish. We also purchased inexpensive goggles and a snorkel at the same time and these items became trip souvenirs we still use today.

Another favorite purchase on a summertime trip to Duck Lake State Park in West Michigan was wooden skim boards. Skim boards are popular in most beach resort towns across the United States; check the sports/outdoor department in big box retailers first for better prices. As a bonus, skim boards are lightweight and small enough to fit in the bottom of a suitcase without taking up too much real estate. Alternately, sand boards are lots of fun if you find yourself near sand dunes (look for local rental companies, many offer private or group lessons to get you started).

Skim Boarding at Duck Lake State Park

For cooler-weather beach adventures (or basically every trip to the Pacific Ocean now that we live in Oregon), consider metal detecting or hunting for shells, sand dollars and agates. We like to collect items in a mesh cloth bag; simply dip the bag in the water or run it under a hose or a faucet to help remove sand without losing your treasures. During whale migration in the spring and fall, the binoculars we now keep in the glove box have come in handy on several occasions.

Do you have a recommendation for us or other road tripping families? Leave a comment below. Happy trails and hang loose!

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine,, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at