Sun, sand and the ocean – sounds like a recipe for fun to me. A day with the kids at the beach can be a perfect way to spend a lovely weekend (or weekday, if you’re lucky). However, it can quickly become dangerous if you are not careful, and you don’t want to take any chances with your precious little ones. In order to make your day great without any hassles, here are some musts for a fantastic day out.
Sunscreen – your child’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than yours and, as a result of this, should be covered by either shade, clothing or sunscreen at all times. Hats and umbrellas are also worthwhile additions to your nappy bag. The sun can also damage your little one’s eyes, so get a pair of sunglasses with UV protection.
Beach Toys – for most children a simple bucket and spade will do. To help you remember your day out, you and your kids can collect shells and beautiful rocks as souvenirs to take home. Balls and chairs can also make your day a little more fun and comfortable.
Drinks and snacks – splashing around and building sand castles can be hungry and thirsty work. That’s why you should always bring heaps of water and snacks to keep your child’s energy levels up, so they won’t get cranky.
Timing – you should try to avoid taking your little ones to the beach between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest, or you risk your kids getting sunburnt, dehydrated and irritable. Instead, try to time your visits for the early morning or late afternoon, when the temperature is a bit cooler.
Extra stuff – make sure you bring a change of clothes for your children to the beach, so they don’t have to go home in wet clothes which can cause chaffing and even a cold. You should also invest in a nice pair of comfy sandals for your child, so they don’t burn their feet on the hot sand.
Arts and crafts – a really nice idea is to get your child to create their very own beach in a bottle. You need to get a clear plastic jar (an old peanut butter or jam jar will work perfectly) and get your child to fill up about a third of the jar with sand. Then go for a walk with your little one along the shoreline and pick up pretty and interesting beach bits and pieces, like beautiful shells, small pieces of driftwood and other fun mementos and put these things inside your jar. When you are ready to leave, close up your jar and take it home to remind your child about the great day they had at the beach. Before you do this, check the beach isn’t heritage listed – so you don’t disturb the wildlife and natural surroundings.
Building sand castles – this is a time-honoured tradition. If you go to the beach with a few friends, why not instil some friendly competition and get all the kids to compete in a sand castle building contest and judge the winners - it might be nice to make all participants winners i.e. one winner for best walls, another for tallest, another for widest etc.
Write messages in the sand – these messages are always fun to create, and, if you have a camera handy, you can take pictures and print them out so your child can save a copy of their handiwork.
Fly a kite – if the beach is a little windy, why not unveil that kite you have been threatening to fly for months? Kids love kites and flying it with you is bound to make their day.
Note: When looking for a beach to go to, make sure there are lifeguards on duty, 60-70% of South Africa’s coastline of some 3 500 km is unguarded.
Best Beaches in South Africa as voted for in Getaway Magazine:
1. Clifton, Western Cape
2. Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal
3. Llandudno, Western Cape
4. Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal
5. Camps Bay, Western Cape
6. Durban North Beach, KwaZulu-Natal
7. Cape Vidal, KwaZulu-Natal
8. Margate, KwaZulu-Natal
9. Blouberg, Western Cape
10. Longbeach, Noordhoek, Western Cape
To see why these beaches are rated best, visit:
Getaway SA - Top 10 South African Beaches
As long as you have planned and prepared for your day, you’re sure to have a safe, healthy, fun trip to the beach with your kids.