It’s almost summer and that means that it’s also almost bikini season. But bikini season is best experienced in its natural habitat: the beach. With that in mind, we thought we’d do you all a huge favor and let you know just what exactly you need to bring with you to the beach in order to pass the day without dying, either of simple boredom or of the myriad dangers which haunt our seemingly innocent little beaches.
Photo credit: ralph and jenny, Flickr
Look, some of these are going to be relatively obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who wander onto the beach like vagrants, missing a towel and then spend their dying moments writhing in agony on the hot sand. Okay, perhaps that’s a slight overstatement but really, man, bring a towel with you. You don’t even need one to dry off – the hot sun will do that for you – but you do need one to protect you from being burned alive by the sand, which under a July sun feels more like lying on a bed of burning coals in Hell. Oh, and make sure it’s a beach towel and not some tiny, raggedy bath towel you stole from your mom’s place the last time you were home for a visit. Not only will that not give you much protection from the sand demons, it will also get you laughed at. Don’t say I never taught you anything.
Photo credit: Gail Frederick, Flickr
Slightly more advanced than the simple towel, a big blanket or sheet offers you the same protection from the hell sands while at the same time giving you one big platform on which you and your heathen friends – and if you’re doing it right, lady friends – can congregate. The right blanket or sheet is like a giant welcome mat telling people “Yes, I’m better than you and to prove it I shall luxuriate like a king on this fine silk bedding while you huddle like peasants on your rickety tiny old towels.” Of course, avoid bringing a wool blanket or anything like that. Not only will it look dumb as hell, the material will end up sticking to you and trust me, you do not want to be the dude who looks like a monster covered in red wool staggering towards the water while everyone gawks and tries to decide whether to flee or to get a park ranger to shoot you.
Photo credit: Jonf728, Flickr
If you plan on spending all day at the beach, it’s a good idea to pack up a few snacks to bring with you. It should probably be something relatively light, just a thing to occasionally munch on while you laze around the beach like a spoiled king. You don’t want anything too heavy or else, under the glare of the unforgiving sun, you’ll just end up feeling like shit. Me? I like fruit. It tastes good and it keeps you hydrated. You could travel a little bit lighter and plan on buying snacks at the beach – there is usually a stand or two or twenty selling stuff at all your reputable beaches – but those thieves will charge you the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Portugal for a single bag of chips. It’s better just to pack your own.
Photo credit: Ginny, Flickr
In this day and age going anywhere without your cell is tantamount to walking around naked – not a bad thing at the beach really but that’s not the sort of naked you should be going for. At some point, you’re probably going to have to link up with some friends and a phone makes that process a whole hell of a lot easier. It sure beats wandering around like Moses in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, trying to find your friends amidst the crowd of half-naked flesh at the beach without any help. Plus, let’s face it, if you’re at the beach for hours at a time you’re gonna get a little bored and your precious iPhone is the only thing that’s gonna keep you entertained aside from the 168th straight game of “Are those boobs real?” And hey, if you strike out at the beach, you can always spend the rest of the evening sweet-talking Siri. If it’s good enough for Samuel L. Jackson, it’s good enough for you.
Photo credit: William Hook, Flickr
A true sign of a beach veteran, plastic baggies are not just a luxury but a necessity if you don’t want your day to end with tears of frustration and the taste of grit and despair in your mouth. Here’s the thing: in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s sand at the beach. A lot of fucking sand. And that sand? It gets everywhere. You will find it in every crack of your body when you get home. It’s awful. But that doesn’t mean that you have to let it get in your food or, even worse, in every tiny crack of your phone. That’s not fun. Trust me. Instead, wrap all your snacks and your phone up in plastic zip-lock baggies. That way they’ll stay safe from the sand and you can haul them out whenever you need them before returning them to their little plastic fortresses. And then you can laugh and laugh when some schmo who didn’t know any better is trying to strangle Siri because she and the phone she lives in have gone silent after being suffocated by sand. It’s not right but what the hell, better him than you.
Photo credit: Paul Swansen, Flickr
This is perhaps the most important thing on this list. Without water you run the risk of dehydration, heat stroke and all manner of crazy shit that will leave you on death’s door. It gets hot at the beach. Hot and sweaty. And every time you sweat, you’ll need more and more sweet, sweet water to replenish you. It’s probably a good idea to bring a cooler stocked with bottled water but if you don’t want to be burdened with too much crap, I suggest strapping on a backpack and stashing full water bottles wherever there’s a spare pocket. Of course, if you do that then the water is going to get warm and awful very, very quickly and hey, nobody likes warm, sun boiled water, right? So what I also suggest is sticking a couple of bottles of water in the freezer the night before so that way they’ll spend all day melting at the beach, giving you ice water for hours that stays cold no matter how much that sun tries to ruin it. Trust me, I’m a professional.
Photo credit: Steven Depolo, Flickr
Sure, I’ve warned against dehydration a couple of times already and alcohol tends to accelerate that process but this isn’t that boring ass future world from Demolition Man, where everyone worships responsibility and abhors anything the least bit dangerous. No, this is America goddammit, and here in America we get shitfaced at every available opportunity and the beach is a hell of an opportunity. I mean, look, you’re probably going to be there for a while and as I’ve already explained that can get boring. What better way to liven it up than with a helping hand from ye olde spirits? Of course, be careful because a lot of beaches – particularly those located on state land – won’t let you drink on the beach. So, if you don’t want to get a ticket from Ranger Rick in his little shorts riding around on his four-wheeler, pay close attention to this next item on the list…
Photo credit: Melissa Wiese, Flickr
No, not because you need or want soda or fruit juice, but because it provides convenient cover for your booze. Just mix some vodka or rum in there and you’re good to go. The puritans who just want to ruin everyone’s good time will think you’re just drinking some nice, wholesome Gatorade when, in fact, you’ll be getting piss drunk in mid-afternoon. Of course it’s always a good idea to be at least a little conservative in your drinking endeavors because no matter how much you disguise that shit you’ll be pegged as a drunkard the moment you start stumbling around and hollering like an idiot at everyone within shouting distance. And then Ranger Rick and his posse of church ladies will roll up on you and demand to give your soda the ol’ sniff test and then you have the deal with the indignity of getting shamed as a degenerate in front of an entire beach and really, no one needs that.
Photo credit: Patrick M Burke, Flickr
Really, any kind of ball works here. Just as long as you have something to toss back and forth with your buddies while you’re passing the day at the beach. Not to sound like a broken record but, uh, just sitting at the beach can get a little boring. A volleyball works really well because for some reason, girls really, really love to play with a volleyball at the beach. You and your friends can probably sucker a group of girls into playing with you. You don’t even need a net. You can just bat that thing around in a circle. A football on the other hand is not only fun but it can be used to worm your way into a group of tight-knit girls. Just one errant throw and a couple of friendly apologies later and hey, guess what? You’re having a conversation with a hot girl in a bikini. Sure it’s not the most subtle thing in the world and it’s annoying as hell to put up with if you’re not the one tossing the ball around but what do you care? You’re the man with the ball and as it says in the Bible, the man with the ball is the king of kings. Or something.
Photo credit: Gus, Flickr
This is a must if you don’t want to spend the next week in agony, lying in bed and rubbing aloe all over in a vain attempt to make the pain go away. Because the sun will burn you. It will burn the hell out of you. And trust me, that sucks. Plus, you know, there’s that whole skin cancer thing which I understand also kinda sorta sucks. I mean, you don’t have to slather that shit on like a vampire with a day pass but you should probably make sure you at least get some SPF 15 on your face, shoulders and any place particularly loved by the sun. Yeah, you can put some on before you go – and you should – but don’t think that means you don’t have to take some with you too. That stuff doesn’t last forever and after you go in the water (that’s right, despite the focus of this article, there’s actually water at the beach – who knew?) it will wash right off. So slather up, fellas. After all, no one wants to look like a weathered old man before they hit thirty.
Photo credit: Aaron Goodwin, Flickr
Yeah, yeah, this sounds like one of those cop out answers from some ladies fashion magazine but really, you need to be confident at the beach. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and have a good time even though you’re wandering around half-naked. Just remember, so is everybody else. Yeah, your trunks probably just slipped below the line separating your ass from civilization but hey, it’s the beach. These things happen. But really, it comes down to this: act like a boss and people will think you’re a boss. This is especially true on the beach where the lack of clothing has a way of stripping away all the bullshit coyness people armor themselves with in real life. Yeah, you might look – and sound like – an asshole from time to time but you’ll also be the one that has the best time and really, isn’t that what the beach is all about? This doesn’t mean you need to show up in a goddamn banana hammock, dudes, but don’t be afraid to rock out with your metaphorical cock out. Metaphorical! I said metaphorical. Please, please remember that.
Photo credit: Confident man image by Shutterstock
(Previously published on June 26, 2012.)