Make a splash at the beach with a little preparation and planning. Catch the (air) waves on the LISA SHOW on BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 on June 27th at 6:40 a.m. Mountain to learn how.
Here’s a link so you can enjoy the broadcast any time.
While growing up at the beach in Carlsbad, CA, I spent countless happy days playing in the sand and surf. Here are my favorite tips to help you plan a memorable day at nature’s playground.
SAFE AND SANE AT THE SEA
For tide pool exploring and gentler body surfing waves – hit the water at low tide; check out californiabeaches.com for your CA adventures. The farther south you go, generally the warmer the water is, with the most temperate tides from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Northern California has plenty of gorgeous beaches and bays but if you intend to spend much time in the water a wetsuit is a good idea. Website Surfline rates waves and the U.S. Coast Guard patrols the seas.
For maximum safety, look for a beach with a lifeguard on duty. These specially trained safety experts survey the area from the parking lot to the sea beyond the breakers. They can assist with all kinds of problems, post warnings for riptides, sharks and other nasties and keep the beach safe, they are LIFE GUARDS.
Worried about what is in the water? These 2 apps that track shark sightings can give you peace of mind: Sharktivity and DORSAL. Regardless of the enviro soft talk you hear at places like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, sharks are not your friends! Stay away from all varieties. Dolphins on the other hand, are your friends and keep sharks away from surfers. If you have an uneasy feeling, get out of the water for a while.
If you are in warm ocean water and are concerned about stingrays, shuffle your feet and hit your heels hard against the sand as you walk in the water. This will send shockwaves that warn string rays and they will try to move away. If you step on a stingray their sharp tail can swing up and pierce the back of your leg, causing pain that you will not likely forget. I visited the beach for many years and never saw a stingray; only 2 friends that I know were stung out of the hundreds of beach-goer family and friends that have been to the beach thousands of times.
Website wildlife.ca.gov also has calendars for grunion runs, information about fishing licenses and more. Harbor cruises, fishing boats and whale watching tours are available at the larger harbors from San Diego northward. My first experience ocean fishing occurred when I was about 10 and visiting my grandparents in Santa Maria, CA. My neighborhood friend Debbie Smith invited me to go with her and her father to fish in their boat off the coast near Pismo Beach. We counted the jelly fish and ate Fritos to stave off seasickness – well I tried. Her father caught multiple salmon, took them home and smoked them, then invited us over for dinner. I was hooked, not on fishing but on the smoked salmon!
For seasickness try chewing ginger or candied ginger or eating salty foods like Fritos or soda crackers and drinking Vernor’s ginger ale. OTC meds include Dramamine, Sea-Band wrist bands, Hyland’s Homeopathic and MQ patches; customers report various levels of effectiveness with these.
SUN PROTECTION AND WATERPROOFING VALUABLES
Sunglasses, sun hats, sun shirts, sunscreen …
Keeping your skin safe from harmful rays may not seem like a big thing, but I know too many people that have dealt with sun-related skin cancer, including yours truly. My doctor, when I lived in Carlsbad, used to make fun of fair-skinned people who went to the beach – really. And to be honest a bad sunburn can sideline you for several days while you wait for the pain to subside. You can get hats and shirts that have UPF50 to extend your safety in the sun.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) refers to sunscreens such as lotions or sprays while UPF refers to Ultraviolet Protection Factor which are hats, clothing and sunglasses; here is a link with a good explanation. My dermatologist at the University of Utah was very clear that a sunscreen needs to have a minimum 70 SPF rating. Apply at least 15 minutes before swimming and reapply often. If you are snorkeling around a reef or other underwater area, there are reef-safe sunscreens made to protect the environment of the biosphere.
If you can, avoid sun exposure between 11:00 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you must go then, hats, sunscreen and shirts can help.
I’d leave my phone in the car when I plan to go in the water but if you need it to blast tunes on your Wonderboom, be sure to shop for a GOOD waterproof cover; a ziplock bag will only go so far…Here are Lifewires’ picks for top for phone protection. Also protect your clicker keys from getting wet. If they do, dry them out and maybe replace the battery – about $4 at Walmart’s auto center. Some people use a magnetic key holder and hide them up in a wheel well or somewhere safe.
Try a beach vault! Bury this handy device in the sand and throw your towel over it.
Use your home bathroom before heading to the beach. Some beaches have public restrooms but they are often rather crusty and toilet paper is in short supply.
SHADES AND UMBRELLAS
In the old days we used to take a beach umbrella to stick in the sand or a playpen for our tiniest babies with a sheet over it to provide shade but the new pop-ups are so much easier and safer (I just read about someone getting killed by a flyaway umbrella.) From Walmart’s $30 version to LL Bean’s $130 one, they are lightweight, easy to set up and less dangerous than those adorable striped market umbrella-looking numbers.
Sand crabs and seashells – early morning is usually the best time to find beautiful shells, try to get there before the other beachcombers have arrived.
Down near the water you will often see tiny V-shaped marks in the sand as a wave recedes – this means a small sand crab has burrowed into the sand. Dig down a little and you may find a tiny gray and brown sand crab. You can hold them, they tickle your hand. But don’t try to take them home for pets, they won’t live very long away from the ocean.
BOOGEYBOARDS, FLOATS AND OTHER TOYS
Must-haves and fun ideas: Good spades or camp shovels, Boogeyboards or acceptable knock-offs, buckets, sand castle molds, Frisbees for uncrowded beaches, velcro paddleball catch sets, volleyball, water toys, a bucket to carry home shells.
If you are planning a beach trip in advance, make sure your littles have swimming lessons or are water safe. And I wouldn’t trust those inflatable arm floaties in the turbulent sea. Even with lifeguards on duty, plan to keep a close eye on little ones near the water. And be prepared to help other people’s little ones if they are struggling in the waves.
Infused water and SANDwiches
All that swimming and running works up an appetite – having a well-stocked cooler can keep the troops happy all day. There is a good chance that the sea will be your hand-washing station so pack foods that will not be too sticky or hold onto much sand when eaten on a sandy towel or beach quilt. Wraps are popular choices, go easy on the mayonnaise, eggs or anything that needs careful refrigeration. A meat and cheese roll-up wrapped around a pickle spear with cut up vegetables, popcorn, chips and pretzels and cheese cubes, baggies of grapes, cut-up watermelon cubes, fruit salad on a stick, paper cups of goldfish crackers and trail mix are good bets.
Or pack an ice chest and stop at a sandwich shop, Mexican food or hamburger stand on your way to the coast. But do minimize wrappers and trash and don’t be that family that leaves litter on the beach.
Water bottles like Hydroflasks keep water and ice super-cold -try infused water instead of soda at the beach. Its not surprising that swimming and playing in all of that salt does work up a thirst.
SEAGULL ALERT! Those soaring, screeching gulls are actually scavengers who think nothing of swooping in and stealing snacks. My niece lost a whole (unopened) bag of Teddy Grahams that she left on her beach towel. Hide your stuff.
Ok, we used to get Big Hunks from Novak’s hamburger stand in Carlsbad and they could collect sand, but a quick dip in the ocean took care of that. All these years later Big Hunks say beach to me. Don’t take little candies with wrappers that can trash the beach, try a bag of bulk licorice vines, Nerds ropes, Jordan almonds, candy corn or jelly beans. Or cookies (Sandies – ha!) Even frozen and thawing drinks like fruit juice boxes and Capri Sun slushies feel like dessert.
Tip: Don’t head to your favorite So Cal beach until the 4th of July or later; June gloom.
Sadly all good things come to an end and when it it time to exit the beach, rinse off at showers if there are any. Dry off in the sun and use a towel to brush off sand. Sprinkle talcum or baby powder on your feet to help loosen remaining sand and brush it off. If you stepped in a glob of tar, scrape it off the best you can and use fingernail polish remover to remove the residue when you get home.
Days at the beach are what childhood memories are made of. Read my nautibiography A Mermade’s Tale about Shell and Pearl and their adventures in Coralsbed, based on the childhood experiences of my friend Judi and me. Available to download on Amazon.com and BN.com.
MERMAIDS LIKE POOLS TOO
But they don’t want green hair. Make sure swimmers get their hair thoroughly wet before jumping into chlorinated water. The hair absorbs the plain water and won’t take in as much chlorinated water. Still be careful of overexposure to sunshine and use waterproof sunblock – reapply often. Wear a shirt if it is midday – the powerful rays of the sun are amplified in the water.
Diving games are fun and improve swimming skills, throw a handful of pennies into the pool or use pool diving toys. Give a prize to the one who collects the most. Ever try using a plastic bottle filled with water? The swimmingpool.com website has more fun in the sun games for pool swimmers.
Don’t forget the classic Marco Polo, cannon ball, water volleyball and others.
Use the bathroom and shower before entering a pool; babies need to be in swim diapers.
No running! Don’t dive unless it is posted that it is safe to do so. Watch littles carefully around pools – some don’t know that they can’t swim and jump into deep water. I pulled 2 small children out of my pool when I was a teenager. One was a toddler that went in after a ball when no one was around. I just happened to hear a splash and went to investigate; I’ll never forget his terrified eyes as he struggled below the surface of the water. Another was a 7 year-old that jumped into the deep end during a pool party. It was obvious he wasn’t popping back up and I went in after him. Again, pools with lifeguards are amazing!
NO CELL PHONE ZONE
Please keep a close eye on your swimmers, even if there are lifeguards. I recently read a couple of articles about children who drowned in pools while their parents were sitting nearby playing with their phones. Drowning children won’t be thrashing and yelling for help, they will more likely be under the water pushing down while trying to get to the surface to breathe. Be smart and be careful.
The same foods that are fun at the beach are great at the pool. For some reason being in the water made me crave salty foods like potato chips. Another apres swim favorite is watermelon. The food doesn’t have to be fancy to make swimmers happy. But please – no food in the pool.
Do you have to wait 30 minutes to swim after eating? The Mayo Clinic says NO.
POOL NO NOS
Don’t bring glass or breakable dishes near the pool.
Keep corded electrical devices away from the pool. Electrocution can kill.
Some roughhousing is inevitable but watch to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.
For more nautical eye candy visit my Pinterest board! https://www.pinterest.com/pammcmurtry/under-over-and-by-the-sea/
And a coloring page to download for your own little mermaids
Spend some time with everyone’s favorite beach bum – the original Gidget with Sally Fields is playing on Amazon Prime or you can pick up the series at Best Buy.
btw – it’s never too early to start think about Halloween! Download my Amazon award-winning A Harvest and Halloween Handbook for great autumn and Halloween ideas.