While all of these beach vacation ideas may not be truly mind blowing, These tips will help make your next beach vacation more unique and interesting. Since I usually travel with kids, these ideas are family focused, but some can definitely be used for couples or girlfriend’s getaways as well.
So, you are heading to the beach for a family vacation. What can you do to make it unique and interesting? What are packing tips you should always remember? I’ve got you covered with this list of unique beach vacation ideas.
Find a Location That’s Right for Your Family
There are quite a few things to consider when choosing a beach destination. Fodor’s Travel Guides has a great list to consider:
- What is your Budget?
- Where do you want to stay – big hotel, all inclusive, cottage, etc.?
- What activities are of interest?
- What do you want to eat?
- Are there things you want to see besides the beach?
- What do you want to do at sunset?
I followed this quiz here and came up with St. Martin as an ideal vacation for my family. Check it out and see what is recommended for your family.
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Pay if Forward
Find a way to pay it forward in the community where you vacation. On Sanibel Island, there is an animal rehabilitation center. We often donate our time to help in their efforts. Other ideas:
- Volunteer at a local food bank or soup kitchen
- Help with beach cleaning efforts
- Join a Volunteerism Tour – vacation travel that has some component of pre-arranged volunteer work.
- Have a few “eco-friendly” days where you walk, bike or us public transportation to get around.
Take the Road Less Traveled
Search for beach vacations that are off the beaten path. If you are going to a top beach destination, aim for the off season to avoid the crowds. Even if you choose a popular destination, there are often secret spots that most tourists don’t know about. Here is a great article on 10 Best Secret Beaches in the US.
Go out of your comfort zone and try something new. On our last vacation we trip stand up paddle boards (SUPs) for the first time. We had a blast! Other adventurous beach vacation ideas:
- Surf lessons
- Banana boat ride
- Sea kayaking
- SCUBA Lessons
Make a Beach Scavenger Hunt
Create a list of things to find like shells, sea glass, sea stars, etc. If the kids have access to a digital camera, it’s also fun to add items that they can’t take with them. Have them search for a blue umbrella, a kite, a boy in red shorts, etc. The first child to collect all of the elements and get back to “home base” wins. Younger kids can buddy up with a parent or older sibling. Another idea is that everyone wins some sort of prize based on how many items they find.
Create a Beach Obstacle Course
This is a great way to get in some extra exercise for the entire family. Set up beach chairs, towels, sand toys, etc., to create an obstacle course to run through. Weave through obstacles, jump over towels, do 10 jumping jacks in the water. Get creative and get the kids involved in creating the course. My kids have loved this activity for years. It’s one of those beach vacation ideas that can grow and increase complexity as your kids get older.
Take More Unique Photos
We all like to take lots of photos on vacation, but how can you make that experience more unique? If your kids don’t have their own camera or other picture taking device, give them each a disposable camera. It’s so fun to see the world through their eyes by what they photograph. Once the pics are developed, encourage your kids to create a unique album or scrapbook. For the adult, here’s an article I wrote over on TravelingMom.com about taking better pictures while on vacation.
Rent the right car
Thanks to Toyota for providing this car for my family to test of the week. All opinions are my own.
Unless you are driving your own vehicle, you will likely need to rent a car at your destination. For a family of 4 or more, I highly recommend a large SUV like the Toyota Sequoia. You’ll not only have ample room for everyone, you will also have amazing cargo space for luggage, beach chairs, etc. It’s also got a roof rack for surfboards, kayaks and SUPs. I had the pleasure of driving the Platinum Model. If you can get your hands on one of these to rent or even to purchase, I highly recommend it!
Key features I love most
- Powerful V8 with multi-mode 4WD
- Ample seating for 7
- captains chairs with storage
- 120 V AC and rear seat Blu-ray Disc Player
- Power reclining for 3rd row to lay flat with touch of a button
- Toyota Safety Sense
- Automatic high beams
- Integrated Navigation, Blue tooth and popular apps
- JBL audio sound system
With a sticker price of nearly 70K, this is truly a luxury car. Models without all of the bells and whistles start in the mid 3o’s. My kids truly loved this car. They wanted us to buy one for home. It would certainly be the perfect soccer mom car!
Avoid baggage fees with these packing tips
There is no need to overpack for a beach vacation. We often pack light enough for everyone to have a carry on so we avoid the baggage fees most airlines have. Airlines may also ask for gate/check volunteers so this way you get to check bags for free. Double check carry-on measurements allowed for your airline.
For clothing, most items should be light weight and quick dry. This will allow you to hand wash items if your accommodations don’t have a washer/dryer. Here is a great article from REI about choosing the best clothes for travel. Another great referent is the Ultimate Family Beach Vacation Packing List over on TravelingMom.com. Most of this list if for driving to your destination, but still gives you good ideas on what else you might want to bring.
Personal Items for Mom/Dad to carry
- Passports if going international
- Driver’s License
- Credit/debit cards
- Car Insurance cards
- Health insurance cards
- Hotel or rental confirmation
- Travel size toiletries (check what hotel/rental provides) – also consider buying things like hair products and sunscreen etc., after you arrive if you have easy access to a drug or grocery store
- Small first aid kit
- Prescriptions/Meds like Benadryl, Tylenol, etc.
Clothing divided into carry on luggage per person
- 2 Swimsuits per person
- Swim goggles if needed
- 1 Rashguard/cover up per person
- 1 jacket/sweater per person
- 3-4 Shorts and T-shirts per person
- 1 Sundress per mom/girl
- 1 pants for all for cooler weather
- 3-4 sets of quick dry underwear per person
- 1 set PJs per person (if needed) -we usually sleep in shorts/t-shirt to avoid extra items
- 1 dress pant and collared shirt per dad/boy – we try to stick with casual dining to avoid these
- 2-3 pair socks per person
- 1 Sun hat/cap per person
- 1 pair sunglasses per person
- Shoes – aim for 3 pairs or less – one for walking/running, one for beach, one dressy (if needed)
- Shoes can quickly take up a lot of space. We sometimes allow one carry-on for everyone’s shoes and the kid’s clothes in another carry on.
This is the carry on that goes under your seat.
- Camera gear
- electronics – laptops/tablets/phones, etc
- Chords and chargers
- Deck of cards or UNO
- Coloring books – I love adult coloring books
- Reading books