Words by Angelica Santini 


What’s in Your Beach Bag? Florida Residents at Jacksonville Beach Share Their Essentials

With the sun shining brightly and the waves rolling gently onto the shore, Jacksonville Beach is a hotspot for beachgoers year-round. Curious about what makes a perfect beach day for locals, we took to the sands to ask residents what they packed in their beach bags. The variety of answers painted a picture of relaxation, fun and preparedness unique to Floridians. 

Many ask “But why Jacksonville Beach?” Well some of the locals and beach goers explained that they love the environment and proximity of essentials for the beach around Jax beach some of the stuff that you would not find in a beach nearby. “St. Augustine Beach just has too many shells. It hurts my feet when walking into the water” stated Kaylee Mildenberger when asked why she preferred Jacksonville Beach. 

Sun Protection: The Non-Negotiables

Unsurprisingly, sun protection topped the list of beach essentials. Floridians know the importance of safeguarding against the intense sun. Sunscreen was the most mentioned item, with SPF 50 being the popular choice. Given that UV rays at Jacksonville Beach during the summer often reach levels as high as 10, wearing SPF 50 has become essential for Floridians who spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun.

Emily Hansen shared, “I never leave home without my sunscreen and tanning lotion. The Florida sun can be brutal, and it’s important to stay protected. I also bring aloe vera gel just in case I do get a little too much sun. Meanwhile, under the sun I might get a tan here and there. That’s why I use a tanning lotion to speed up the process to not stay under the sun for too long”

Comfort Items: Creating a Home Base and Fuel for Fun

Comfort was another priority with many residents bringing items to create a cozy and functional beach setup. Beach chairs, umbrellas, and large towels were standard. Some even had portable beach tents. Furthermore, with these main items beachgoers tend to be well-prepared with food and drinks, especially water bottles. Staying hydrated is key. As for snacks, fruits like watermelon and grapes were popular for their refreshing quality. Multiple respondents stated that they tend to bring “Pub subs” from their local Publix grocery store since it’s an easy fix for a beach snack. Many also brought along sandwiches, chips, and sweets to keep their energy up.

Entertainment and Activities: Making Memories

To keep boredom at bay, beach bags were stocked with entertainment. Books and e-readers were popular among those looking to relax. For the more active types, beach games like frisbees, paddleball sets and volleyballs were common. “We love playing beach reading and going out surfing,” said Elli Huber and Emily Hansen. “It’s a great way to stay active and have fun together.” For families, sand toys were a must. Buckets, shovels, and molds for building sandcastles were mentioned frequently.

Unique Finds: Personal Touches

Some items were unique and spoke to the personal touch of each beachgoer. One resident, Mike, brought a portable Bluetooth speaker for music, saying it added to the beach vibe. Another, Linda, had a journal and pens, explaining that the beach was her favorite place to write and reflect. Mike and Linda both conveyed: “The beach brings us peace. The kids get to play in the water and the sand. While we get to do some of our favorite hobbies, whether it is reading, listening to music or writing.” 

My Beach Bag: Lessons from a Lifetime of Beach Days

Growing up in Florida, trips to the beach have been a cornerstone of my life. My earliest memories are filled with the scent of saltwater, the warmth of the sun and the joy of building sandcastles with my family. Over the years, I’ve perfected my own list of beach essentials, combining practical needs with personal touches that make each visit special.

My Beach Essentials:

  1. High-SPF Sunscreen and Lip Balm: Like many locals, I never underestimate the Florida sun. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 50 is a must, along with SPF 30 lip balm to prevent chapped lips.
  2. Hydration Pack: Staying hydrated is crucial. I carry a large, reusable water bottle and often freeze it overnight so it stays cold longer. I usually bring my Stanley, since it keeps my ice and water cold for a long time period. 
  3. Portable Beach Chair and Umbrella: Comfort is key, so I always bring a lightweight, foldable chair and a sturdy beach umbrella. These provide a perfect spot to relax and escape the sun when needed.
  4. Quick-Dry Towels and Blankets: Quick-dry towels are a game-changer, especially when you’re hopping in and out of the water. A large, soft blanket is perfect for lounging and picnicking.
  5. Snacks and a Cooler: Fresh fruits, trail mix and a couple of sandwiches are my go-to snacks. A small cooler keeps everything fresh and doubles as a seat or table.
  6. Books and a Journal: Reading by the waves is one of my favorite pastimes. I always bring a good book or two and a journal for jotting down thoughts or sketching the scenery.
  7. Beach Games and Toys: Whether I’m with friends or family, a volleyball, paddleball set and a few sandcastle molds always find their way into my bag. They’re great for staying active and having fun.
  8. Tech Essentials: My waterproof phone case and portable charger ensure I can take photos and stay connected without worrying about damage. A small Bluetooth speaker adds a soundtrack to my day.
  9. Hair Products: Since I have curly hair, my maintenance for my hair after a long beach day is very important. My hair tends to get tangled easily after the beach especially if I go in the water. First, I tend to use my Denman brush to detangle my hair, then I use a deep conditioner to get moisture back into my hair. Lastly, I use my leave-in conditioner so that my hair maintains detangled and easy to style.
  10. Reusable Bags and Trash Bags: I bring a few reusable bags for carrying wet items and trash bags to ensure I leave the beach as clean as I found it.

From sun protection to entertainment, Jacksonville Beach residents know how to pack for a perfect day on the sand. Whether it’s the basic necessities or personal touches that make the day special, each beach bag tells a story of relaxation, fun, and the laid-back Florida lifestyle.

So next time you’re planning a beach trip, take a cue from the locals — and from my own well-honed list. Pack smart, stay safe and most important, immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of sun, sea and sand. Who knows? You might discover your own unique beach essentials that turn a simple trip to the shore into an unforgettable adventure.