beach basics Keep it simple, plan ahead for a good time at the beach

The Catoe family of Folly Beach are regular beach-goers. Mary Catoe (second from left) says that advanced planning and bringing the right supplies are key to a fun family day.

Isobel Harper really enjoys the beach.

Her mom, Dee, of Goose Creek, says she takes her almost 2-year-old to Beachwalker Park at Kiawah Island as much as she can.

“Isobel likes to crawl and eat the sand,” Harper says. “She’s so independent and she wants to keep walking in the water.”

There are many must-haves families should take on their trips to the beach to make things a little easier and keep children safe and happy.

Extra clothes. “I always pack extra clothes, diapers and towels,” Harper says. Harper also suggests trying on bathing suits first at home to make sure they fit, especially if it’s a toddler’s first time going to the beach.

Water. Kai Dilling, owner of Sol Surfers Surf Camp LLC, says he brings a gallon jug filled with water. “I give myself a nice rinse before toweling off and heading home. Bring two or three for the family. ”

Coolers. “I use the frozen plastic cooler packs instead of ice because they are always on hand and don’t end up as a pool of water in the cooler,” says Mary Catoe of Folly Beach. “If traveling by car, I would leave a cooler with drinks on ice and more snacks in the car in case traffic leaving the island at the end of the day is bad.”

Toys. “I think the most important things to bring are toys! It’s relatively easy to plan for a day at the beach,” Dilling says.

Catoe agrees. “When the kids were younger, I purchased a laundry bag with a shoulder strap and loaded it with plastic trucks, bulldozers, shovels, buckets and dollar store mermaids and mermen. I could dump the bag in front of my chair and not worry about chasing the kids all over the beach,” she says.

Unbrella or tent. Harper says a tent is convenient for changing clothes and bathing suits.

“If I have help carrying stuff, I take my big umbrella with the corkscrew bottom to get a good hold into the sand,” Catoe says.

Snacks and plenty of sunscreen. “Keep it simple. ... At least two bottles of water per person, salty snacks, fruit, sandwiches, sunscreen, including a stick for faces,” Catoe says. “The lotions on the face tend to get into eyes and most kids can put the stick sunscreen on by themselves.”

Towels and other items. “One towel per child, a backpack chair, a ball or something to toss and catch that works in the ocean, a trash bag, sunglasses and cash because the kids love to run to Bert’s Market for a corn dog,” Catoe says.

Plan ahead. “Plan ahead, check the weather, go early: arrive by 10 a.m. and leave by 3 p.m. to avoid the worst traffic,” Catoe says. “Prepare to stay longer than you have planned because time flies by at the beach.”

Dilling agrees. “Plan for the sun, plan for the wind, plan for food, plan for trash, plan for what you’re going to do on the beach, plan for the ride home.”

Dilling says there are great beaches in the Charleston area and residents should help keep them clean.

“I love our beaches. If you have the right equipment, there’s plenty of days in a year to surf waves. Summers, because our beaches face south, have consistent, rideable surf. It’s warm,” he says. “The beaches are wide at low tide, so there’s plenty you can do while you’re out.

“Please, whatever you bring to the beaches bring back home with you, including any and all trash.” he says.

Aya Khalil is a freelance writer pursuing a master’s degree in education from the College of Charleston.

She can be contacted at