Growing up on the Alabama Gulf Coast makes one an expert on three things: tearing apart crustaceans, identifying various storm clouds, and beach days. After spending my formative years only 45 minutes from Gulf Shores and steps away from Mobile Bay, I’m still trying to adjust to life in land-locked Atlanta. My spontaneous beach days have morphed into planned beach weekends, which means my packing style has become less “whatever I left in the trunk” and more intentional and streamlined. The upside? I’ve perfected a list of “must-haves” that fit in my weekender and are essential to any trip to the beach.

A Book: Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel 

The perfect page turner for the beach. It’s thought-provoking and may tug at your heartstrings, while touching on the intimacy of how family structures change as we get older. Definitely choosing this one over any grocery store magazines.

Good Queen Bess Coffee Body Polish

Confession - my legs aren’t exactly beach-ready most of the time. This organic body polish from New Orleans-based Good Queen Bess is made with Louisiana-sourced brown sugar and Revelator Coffee to exfoliate away all memories of the-winter-that-refused-to-end, while also tightening and energizing skin. It’s almost as if I didn’t spend the last few months ordering-in pizza instead of getting bikini ready...

Tinted Face SPF

Even if I wanted to wear makeup on the beach, it’d all melt off before I found a perfect spot in the sand. Coola’s Tinted Face SPF is ideal for beach days - it’s non-greasy, has SPF 30, and is *just* enough mattifying coverage to look carefree but put together at the beachfront bar.

Blanket Scarf

I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of blanket scarves (or as moms around America call them, pashminas) for warm weather, and this raw silk scarf from Argaman and Defiance is perfect for windy beach mornings. Whether you need a sarong, cape, or even a simple light blanket, this blanket scarf has got you covered.

Versatile Tank

I’m skipping the oversized branded tank top I got for free in college and packing this racerback tank from Outdoor Voices instead. The split back is genius - I’ll be able to wear it as a longer tank when I’m walking to and from the car, and then tie it up when I want to look cute without the hassle of actually making an effort.

Beach Blanket

I don’t know about you, but I’ve recently decided to break up with the frayed and faded beach towels I inherited from my parents, and upgrade to an oversized (and machine washable!) blanket. This one is big enough to share with a friend (or two), and cute enough to bring inside even after you leave the beach.

Tote Bag

No beach checklist is complete without a fun and roomy tote bag to fit all of your essentials. This cheery tote from Fluffy is a must-have - not only is the cloud print adorable, but with its leather straps and gusseted bottom, it’s sturdy enough to last through multiple beach trips, farmers markets, and more.

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