Makenna Beach on Maui

So you’re vacationing to Hawaii, but you’re not a seasoned beach goer. No worries, Hawaii gets plenty of newcomers to its shores. Part of Hawaii’s lure for vacationers who live in noncoastal regions of the world is its beautiful beaches and warm ocean. It’s the epitome of a tropical vacation, right? Anyone holidaying in Hawaii probably envisions themself lounging on the soft sand and floating in the sun-heated ocean. Maybe playing some beach volleyball or going for a lazy swim. Whatever your beach day desires may be, there are a few tips that might help you to maximize your afternoon of relaxation. While you might think you’re fully prepared with a towel and sunscreen, here are a handful of recommendations that you might never have considered.

First on the list is an umbrella. To some of you that may be an obvious recommendation, but a lot of people don’t bring one either because they don’t own one or don’t intend to purchase one when they’re arrive in Hawaii. But an umbrella allows you to stay at the beach longer, especially when shade is hard to come by or is already taken up by other beach goers. A tip for using umbrellas on a windy day is to bring a plastic bag with you- like the kind you get from Foodland or the ABC store. Fill the bag up with sand and use it as a weight to hold the beach umbrella in the sand and keep it from becoming a runaway.

Next is one of my personal favorite items for an extended beach day; floaty toys. There’s nothing like lounging in the ocean on top of a blow-up bed. Plus, in easy shorebreak it doubles as a fun way to catch some waves. You can find a variety of floaty toys at an ABC store or Longs Drugs, and the kids will love picking out a dolphin or turtle blow-up toy for their beach day. It’s a fun way for kids and adults to relax in the water together, and is that perfect balance of sun and refreshment.

Beach games are another great way to make your day in the sand last longer. More and more I see couples and groups enjoying the beach with games like paddleball, cornhole and volleyball. While some games might be easier to find at the stores or improvise while at the beach (like a version of horseshoes with shells or rocks and circles drawn in the sand), others require a bit more set up. If you’re a fan of volleyball, do a quick online search for beaches that have public nets. An adult game of volleyball is SO MUCH FUN. Seriously, try it.

For some of you, a book is an essential item for a beach day. I know it is for me. But if you’re not much of a reader, stop by the convenience or grocery store before your final beach destination and pick up a magazine that curtails to your interests or hobbies. Men’s Health is an entertaining and informative magazine for men of all ages, or try a local publication like Freesurf (it’s free!), Contrast, Honolulu, Hawaii or Innov8. These will give you a glimpse into the local lifestyle, art and culture scene and surf community and provide hours of entertainment in the form of photos and articles. You can also find a plethora of surf magazines in most stores, which appeals to a wide variety of ages and audiences.

The most efficient way to cut a beach day short is forgetting to bring food. And I mean substantial food, not just snacks. Don’t underestimate your hunger level after an active afternoon at the beach. After snacking from 11am till 3pm, chances are you’re ready for a real meal, which will have you packing up before sunset. (And the whole point of this post is to teach you how to beach it from morning till night!)

So two things to remember: pack a picnic and bring a cooler. The cooler will give you better options for picnic items, such as turkey and cheese for sandwiches, dips for chips and fruit for light snacking. You’ll also be grateful for the cooler when you realize your bottled water just heated up to 100 degrees in the sand. There’s nothing worse than drinking hot water when you’re trying to stay quenched. My favorite refreshment on the beach is an ice-cold brew, but since it’s illegal to drink on the beaches in Hawaii, I’ll pretend I didn’t just give you that recommendation.

Also, remember to bring your beach chairs. This helps to prolong your relaxation by switching up your lounging positions. Start by lying out on your towel in the sand and then switch to reading in a chair under the umbrella. Towel, chair, towel, chair. Repeat throughout the day for best results.

Lastly, I recommend bringing a snorkel and mask every time you go to the beach, especially if you’re unfamiliar to the beaches in Hawaii. There is always something to explore in the waters, whether it’s shell hunting in the shorebreak, snorkeling with fish or searching for turtles, a mask and snorkel will never cease to be handy at extending the entertainment of your beach day.

And just to round out this post, be sure to bring the essentials! Sunscreen, bathing suit, towel (and/or pareo), sunglasses, hat, camera, water. The ingredients for a successful FULL day at the beach.


  1. Aloha Bruce.
    Once again Thank you for the info and advise!

    I am in email correspondence with Abby in your office and am planning on [ fingers crossed] vacationing there in May!!!!
    Where would I be able to find all the items you mention; beach towel, umbrella, beach chair, cooler? Would the hotel I stay at provide any of these? What if I purchase them would I have to take them with me when I leave? Also, do you have a blog for the solo traveler? Please let me know

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