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7 Things to Consider When Planning a Day at the Beach

Here in Miami, enjoying the beach is a huge part of life.

The beach is one of the first places visitors head to when arriving. They have been dreaming about the soft sand beautiful ocean waves for way too long. Many who live in South Florida visit the beaches regularly and consider time on the sand or in the water one of the residents’ biggest perks. For some, it’s literally part of their paycheck due to the high cost of living in this tropical paradise with a lower salary.

Planning a South Florida Beach Day

Walking onto the beach for the first time in a long time (or maybe the first time EVER) is literally breathtaking! At that moment, it’s like there’s no better place to be on earth. What’s even more amazing is how a beach’s setting never remains the same for long. The tide is always changing by the hour. Therefore, you may go visit a particular beach in the morning and it will look one way, then return to that same beach location in the evening and it will appear to be a whole new beach.

After you have taken in the sea’s beauty from afar, you then begin to venture out further towards the shore to find your own little place on the sand and enjoy a few hours of rest and relaxation.  Although a day at the beach is considered one of the most luxurious ways to enjoy a vacation, without the right planning, it could become less enjoyable than one would hope.

Below 7 things to consider when planning your beach day:

  1. Type of Beach: If you are not familiar with the area where you are planning to spend time in the sand, it’s a good idea to do a little research to find out what type of beach you are interested in visiting. For example, will you be bringing a dog along? Do you prefer a beach that does not allow dogs? If you don’t find this info out ahead of time, it could ruin your day of sunshine. Most cities have beach information available online.

  1. Beach Rules: Be sure to also check ahead to find out the rules of the beach you have selected. For example, some beaches do not allow alcohol or glass bottles. Other beaches do not permit cigarette smoking. Before packing a cooler or setting up camp, having this information available ahead of time will prevent having to re-pack your cooler or relocate when you get to the beach.

  1. Timing: The day and time when you visit the beach will have a lot to do with just how enjoyable your beach outing really is. An over-crowded beach is not often at the top of anyone’s vacation expectations. Plan on heading to the beach in the early morning (before 10am). Mornings are always better than afternoons, as most locals and tourists do not “get going” until late morning or early afternoon.

  1. Parking:  Most beach parks require payment for parking and some are easier to pay for than others. For example, there are paid meters and also manned gates that collect payment upon guests’ arrival. Free parking is often available at select beaches. Again, this information should be available within the local municipality. Also keep in mind that beach parking will be more limited during heavier tourism seasons (see below).

  1. Season: Choosing a good time of year to plan a beach vacation will also have some impact on your overall beach experience. Just as the beach changes by the tide, it also changes with the seasons. Many of travelers seem to believe that climates closer to the Equator do not have a change of seasons. This is not true. We do not have extreme changes as noticed up north, but anyone who has lived in places like South Florida do notice the difference. Some of the ways the beaches change during the Autumn and Winter months in South Florida are:

    Manowar – As the weather cools, beachgoers will find a high population of Manowar (aka: “Jelly Fish” see image below). These beautifully purple (yet very dangerous) sea creatures gather in droves to the shore and if you’re not careful can give you a painful sting. Walks on the beach can go from peaceful to ABSOLUTELY PAINFUL if you happen to step on or touch its stinger. Parents should take extra special caution with children at the beach to make sure they understand the dangers involved with coming into contact with a Manowar (and other sea creatures). For infants, you will need to keep a close watch to make sure they are never left unsupervised for any amount of time.


    • Seaweed – Seaweed is part of the ocean and has its useful purpose, but at certain times of the year it seems to gather on the shore much more than others and becomes somewhat of an annoyance. This information should also be available within the city’s local municipality.

    • Insects / Sea Lice – When visiting a beach, it’s inevitable there will be sand fleas, gnats and other pesky insects on the sand. But a large part of how bad the insects are biting also depends upon the time of year. In the water, swimmers must be aware of Sea Lice. Sea Lice are the microscopic larvae of thimble Jellyfish (aka: “Linuche unquiculata”) and are found along the shore line more often during the warmest times of the year. They bury themselves inside the skin of swimmers and tend to thrive around areas of the bathing suit and arm pits. Sea Lice cause itching and red welts very similar to chiggers. Be sure to bring along a first aid kit (in case of other injuries) and hydrocortisone cream for bug bites. As far as for sea lice, it’s been said that urine (REALLY!) helps to relieve the burning pain.

  1. Sunscreen: Don’t forget to grab sunscreen! Even if the weather is cloudy, you will be surprised at the wind burn you can get from spending a few hours at the beach without sun. If children will be joining you – no matter the length of time – it’s a MUST! Zinc Oxide sunscreens are the safest.

  2. Wind & Weather: It may seem silly to mention this, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think about checking the weather before heading to the beach. Obviously, if the weatherman is predicting a 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms, it’s probably not going to be the best day to spend at the beach. However, in the tropics it’s common to have quick and light rains, so if that’s all he predicts in the forecast – just be sure to take along weatherproof beach gear, including your wind and waterproof beach blanket.

Have fun in the sun!

Written by Peggy DiPirro with 




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