How to Enjoy a Florida Beach Like a Local!

It’s not just sand in your toes and wind in your hair. There is certainly a method to packing and planning for a Florida beach day! Whether you are just visiting the beach for a few hours, or scheduling a full day or more, check out these tips on how to make the most of your beach vacation!

woman at beach in sand and swimsuit

Packing for the Beach

To pack for a Florida beach you need to plan accordingly ahead of time. The first item of business is to decide who is going to be with you at the beach. If you’re going to be alone or just with a significant other, it’s much easier to pack. The two of you will probably be able to solo pack and be prepared for what you need yourselves. If you’re planning to have children with you, make sure that you have enough of the essentials: sun screen, toys, and food.

When packing remember that sunscreen is essential! Being out in the sun in Florida is much hotter than you can imagine, especially if it’s in the middle of summer. I would suggest packing at least an SPF 30, but a higher SPF is even more preferred. A UV resistant shirt is also a great idea, as is a hat. Bring lots of food and drinks on ice in a cooler. A cooler on wheels is convenient for walking back and forth from the car to the beach. Drinks and food at concession stands are very expensive, so plan ahead on that one. Bring beach toys for the kids, such as pails, shovels, and pool noodles. Don’t forget to pack your towels and some beach chairs.

Bringing a tent or an umbrella to the beach is optional only if you’re only going to be out there for an hour or two. However, if you’re out for any longer than that time period, or if you have young children or an elderly parent, having those items with you it is non-negotiable. I would suggest getting at the very least an umbrella to keep the hot sun off of you. Large discount stores sell simple, affordable beach umbrellas for about $15. They are easy to find in summer in Florida. Some people that stay all day go all out with portable tents, boom boxes, and lounge chairs. That part is up to you!

little girl at beach splashing

Enjoy the Sun!

Be sure to get to the beach early! Many beach parking lots have limited spots available, especially during peak times. Some parking lots require you to pay for parking by the hour. Here in Florida in Charlotte County, it is 75 cents an hour to park at the beach. So, it’s very affordable. Just make sure that you pay for it if you are required to do so. Don’t try to get out of paying for parking, or you might get slapped with a big ticket! Other counties actually have free parking. If you need to pay for parking, you pay for it ahead of time in a meter that is usually up by the concession stands and restrooms. Don’t park in nearby restaurants or shopping centers because they might have you towed!

Make sure you lather on that sunscreen and have lots of drinks available. Drink lots of water during the day and don’t get dehydrated. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re getting too hot. You truly have to listen to your body. If you’re feeling too hot, then go up by the concession stands available and take a break, get extra water, and into the shade. If you come to the beach in the evening to see the sunset, be sure to find a beach that has a drum circle. Drum circles have a cool, hippie type vibe, where you can enjoy listening to drums and music while watching the sunset. In Southwest Florida, try Englewood Beach, Nokomis Beach, and Siesta Key Beach for evening drum circles! Click here for more information about drum circles.

Make sure you swim in that Florida beach water, but watch for the signs! Every beach has a sign before you enter that tells about the water quality. Please do not ignore these signs. They are there for a reason! In SW Florida in the summer, we sometimes get Red Tide or algae blooms, which can cause bacteria growth in cuts in the skin or sometimes respiratory issues, such as severe allergies. If you arrive during peak season and there’s hardly any cars at the beach, look for the signs right before the boardwalk and make sure that water is safe before you get into it.

drum circle

Respect the Wildlife

Have fun while you’re at the beach, but be respectful of the wildlife. You are going to have the best time and see so many beautiful, native birds. However, one word of advice I can give you is do not feed the birds! If they get one whiff of a cracker or a French fry, they will lunge at you and all of a sudden you will have birds everywhere. Do not feed the birds!

Be considerate and careful when you take sand dollars from the water. Yes, sand dollars are amazing and beautiful, but make sure that the sand dollar are dead before you remove them from the water. They will look white and have a clear star on their front when you take them out only if they are already dead. If they look grayish or brownish and still have tiny hairs (spines) on them, then they are still alive. Do not kill our precious sand dollars!

Be careful when you’re walking around for turtle nests. Usually people in sea turtle wildlife clubs will fence off these areas when they see them, but once in a while a sea turtle will lay her eggs in a secret spot. If you see them during the day then do not disturb the nests and definitely do not touch the eggs. If you are at the beach at night for some reason, do not shine any kind of light at the beach. The baby turtles will think it’s the horizon and will go towards the light, even if it is the wrong direction.

I live close to Venice Beach, which is in Sarasota County, and Venice is the “Shark Teeth Capital of the world”. So, if you’re in this area by any of these beaches, you can use a metal tool to dig for sharks teeth. The sharks teeth are typically black and slightly heart shaped. Most are small like the size of your nail, but sometimes you can find bigger ones that are worth money! So, if you see people standing in the beach with their metal baskets, they are looking for sharks teeth! Click here to find out more about Venice Beach and sharks teeth!

dog at beach


Hopefully this guide has given you some idea of what to expect while you’re at the beach. Plan accordingly for the beach when packing, prepare yourself for the sun and heat, respect the wildlife, and clean up when you leave. Being in Florida is amazing and beautiful. Enjoy the sun and the sand!

Got any other tips for beach packing and planning? Leave them in the comments below!

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