Ah, Summer 2021 at last! It will be a summer of fun, a summer of laughs, and for many-a summer of firsts. Firsts that means doing things for the first time since scrapping the beach all last summer 2020. Summer 2020 was a time of worry, whether who was maintaining six feet distance…who had COVID symptoms…who was asymptomatic…who got tested when…and at best, who tested positive or negative. All of those worries added up to Americans scratching their beach plans. From the New Jersey Shore, to the Florida coast, to the beaches of southern California, the worries and fears were present. Americans definitely want to forget those experiences. This summer, Americans can enjoy the beach activities they love. From beach volleyball, to Ultimate Frisbee, to building massive sand sculptures, it’s all good. But what are the most important top 5 post-COVID beach basics? Here are the top 5 that are sure to job everyone’s memory.

5) PACKING BEACH GEAR! Oh, is this one fun! Everyone asks themselves the question, “What beach gear should I bring along for this trip?”. It may be just a day trip! Either way, putting together the packing list is always the challenge. Sun tan lotion is a must. Sun tan lotions with an sun block factor (SBF) of at least 30 are recommended. Sun tan lotions with an SBF of 15 is ok, but they aren’t that effective. Atop the beach gear is everyone packing their own beach towel(s). It’s not recommended to share towels. Who wants to share germs? Everyone was so worried about germs last summer. Along with the germs were bacteria, harmful particles in the air, and yes…droplets. Also on the beach gear list are umbrellas. They provide plenty of shade. Other important items on the beach gear list are beach blankets to lay down on, and wind barriers to keep sand and debris from invading. The most vital item to have on the beach gear list is plenty of water. Soda and other sugary drinks are a no-no. Sugary drinks do not hydrate. They only contribute to dehydration. Everyone must drink 11 servings of water per day!

4) BEATING THE HIGHWAY TRAFFIC! During the summer, everyone is headed to the same location at the same time. It’s like an airline hub, where all the flights leave simultaneously. At the same time, passengers get annoyed when taxiing for a long time before finally taking off. The same thing goes for highway traffic. The best way, and only way to make any beach trip a success without highway traffic being an obstacle is LEAVING HOME EARLY. For instance, if Sandy Hook’s parking lots fill up by 9 am on the weekend, beach goers must leave their homes early enough to arrive by 8-8:30. This must be done to allow time to walk to their favorite spot on the beach. Highway traffic is one thing, but the main thoroughfares that lead to the beaches themselves can be a real challenge. When Sandy Hook beach goers exit the Garden State Parkway at Exit 117, Route 36 is the second to last leg of the trip. The very last leg is battling Atlantic Avenue with the never-ending pedestrian traffic crossing the street. Highway traffic is every beach goer’s worst nightmare. That’s true, but beating highway traffic is what makes any beach day worthwhile.

3) FINDING DECENT PARKING! Everyone says, “Getting there is half the fun!”. That is true. When it comes to visiting any beach, finding the best parking spot is always half the fun. It doesn’t matter how much beach gear is in tow. It doesn’t matter how heavy the coolers are. Whether it’s a day drip or a weekend visit, it’s important to beat the traffic, beat the crowds, and find that most coveted parking spot in the beach parking lot. When traveling to the New Jersey Shore, it’s highly recommended to drive down at night. When doing so, beach goers are avoiding the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway during rush hour. On a heat-enticing beach day, the Garden State Parkway is choking with traffic. It’s even more choking with traffic on a Saturday morning. Everyone is trying to get to their favorite beach area at the same time. In fact, beach goers want to park in their favorite parking spaces on a consistent basis. Die hard beach goers have it down to a science. Essentially, beach goers headed for Sandy Hook must arrive before 9 am. Sandy Hook is among the top most visited beach areas in New Jersey. Sandy Hook’s famous Gunnison Beach, the nude beach, is visited by beach goers from as far south as the Carolinas. For the thousands of beach goers, both young, middle-aged, and old, finding a good parking spot in famous Lot G is a tall order. One can imagine the endless victory laps beach goers make with their cars. Unfortunately, they didn’t leave home at the right time. The later they arrive, the longer the walk to the beach front. Being on time is the best time!

2) BRING FOOD FROM HOME! It’s no joke. The food sold at most beach towns is unbelievably expensive. Everyone says that stadium food prices are steep. Where have they been? Beach goers should and MUST bring food from home. Avoiding the need to spend money on expensive boardwalk food is the goal. Food at major New Jersey beach towns such as Point Pleasant Beach and Seaside Heights is hallucinatory. Sausage sandwiches and wraps, even though they look so mouthwatering, are $16.00. Grilled chicken sandwiches are not much cheaper, at $14.95. Has anyone seen pizza prices on the boardwalk? A well-known boardwalk pizzeria in Point Pleasant Beach charges $18.00 for a plain cheese pie. One can imagine ordering 4 pies for a lagoon-side party! From snacks, to sweets, to beverages, bringing the food from home is the way to go.

1) TAKING PICTURES! There is simply no better way to capture and document the memories made during any beach visit than taking pictures. Whether by camera or video, bringing home the memories and valuable moments cannot be passed up. Beach goers take pictures of their kids jumping the waves. Beach goers take pictures of the sand sculptures they spent endless hours constructing with the help of friends and family. Further, beach goers are sure to take pictures while just plain people watching. However, beach goers must beware! There are some situations which beach goers need to exercise caution. Sandy Hook’s Gunnison Beach and Miami’s Haulover Beach (nude beaches) are among two of the most popular on the east coast. At beaches like these, beach goers must respect the privacy of others. Those who wish to take pictures are welcome to do so, but only from a distance-not up close. It’s only fair that respecting the others’ space and being non-invasive is proper beach etiquette. Kodak moments are great, but respecting the privacy of others goes a long way.

Summer 2021 is finally here! The long, grueling socially distant school year is over. The stress of winter is long gone. The anticipation of Spring is long gone. Yes, the plexiglass shields are finally disappearing! Summer is the time to enjoy all of life’s simple pleasures. The beach is where is all happens. This summer is full of much promise, with the opportunity to gather with friends and family again. The beach or in the backyard of one’s shore home is the perfect location. Visiting the beach after a long and grueling pandemic can’t be more relieving. In fact, it can’t be more surreal. Before the fun and memories can begin, it’s imperative to review the beach goers’ basics list. All beach goers must bring adequate beach gear including sun glasses and sun tan lotion. All beach goers must leave their home early to get ahead of the highway traffic. Having done so, beach goers should and must find decent parking. Second to last, bringing food from home instead of spending an arm and a leg on boardwalk food is a plus. Last, but not least, and the most critical-taking plenty of pictures. But, pictures must be taken at the right distance and in the right taste. Following these hints tap for tap not only allow for an exciting beach visit, but endless memorable visits-as memorable as summer itself.

About Author

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at ProwsEdge.com, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, Whistlestop.Amtrak.com. David also writes for the publication Examiner.com. On Examiner.com, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

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