Streamline your packing list for the seaside with some chic essentials that will make your day in the sun even easier
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s appreciating what’s on our doorstep.
Ireland has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world: miles of golden, deserted sands and quiet coves anchored by rugged cliffs or rolling green fields, if you don’t mind the odd intermittent drizzle.
Of course, many of us lived the staycation life long before the pandemic made it trendy.
I have cherished memories of heading seaward in our Triumph Acclaim with cling-filmed sandwiches and the promise of a beachside 99 on arrival, as long as we didn’t squabble; of long, hot days lingering in the water for hours, and afternoons spent sheltered behind rocks in wet towels while the rain pelted us sideways; of vinegary chips and fishing in rock pools, sliding down sand dunes and picking periwinkles… Bliss, and we hadn’t endured the airport schlep or baggage charges.
But hardened staycationers will also know that if Irish summers are anything to go by, your beach bag might include a woolly jumper, anorak and tent. As much as we want an easy, breezy beach trip, a seaside excursion can be quite a production, with an overloaded tote spilling with everything from picnic essentials to wetsuits.
Many of us are well-seasoned packers at this stage and know that lounging on a sandy shore becomes even more heavenly when you’re lying on a plush towel or chair, or when you aren’t fishing lukewarm drinks from the bottom of a bag but from a state-of-the-art cooler.
Here’s how to streamline the packing list with some chic beach essentials that will make your day in the sun even easier.
Sand-free beach towels? What will they think of next? Before you roll your eyes, consider the moment you return from a swim to a sand-caked towel and have to walk halfway down the beach to violently shake it free.
Most sand-free towels are made of microfibre with a genius two-layer design that lets sand fall right through, such as Wild Atlantic Surfboard Company’s fast-drying towel, designed by Irish surfers, or the M&S sand-resistant beach towel range.
If you don’t fancy settling on the sand, there’s plenty of chair and portable lounger options (Mountain Warehouse, Woo Design, Oliver Bonas). I like H&M’s portable beach mattress that rolls up neatly for easy carrying.
The days of warm, windswept sandwiches are over with the latest food coolers. YETI’s range of portable coolers are fast becoming favourites, but if you’re looking for something lighter on the wallet, Decathlon has an inflatable high-performance 35L cooler, which promises to keep your items fresh for 17 hours without ice packs.
Most picnic blankets come with a waterproof backing (Halfords, M&S, Tiger, Outdoor Adventure Store), but some have the double bonus of being sand resistant, such as Living Social’s outdoor travel mat with anchor stakes to prevent it from blowing away.
Beach bags, too, have come a long way since those 1980s bucket tote bags. Woven straw bags are beach staples along with canvas totes, oversized waterproof carryalls and even ones with clever cooler compartments (Revolve, Anthropologie, Surfdome, Penneys, H&M, ASOS, Dunnes Stores).
When the kids have bored of burying each other in the sand, you might want to whip out a beach game, such as the stylish paddle bat set from Zara that’s lightweight and easily stored in a bag. And last but not least, a handy wine cooler (Butlers Home, The White Company) for that chilled sundowner.