Susan Heinrich sits on a palm tree on a beach vacation in Maui

Susan’s Beach Vacation Essentials


Whether I’m hanging ten on a palm tree in Hawaii or on the coast of Canada in summer, these are my favorites for the beach

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My beach vacation essentials are a mix of practical, fun and stylish items. They protect me from the sun and keep me hydrated. I can read in the pool and not worry about my book getting wet.  And everything stays organized while I capture my vacation memories – at the beach and in the water. Could I get by without my favorite beach essentials, sure. But why would I, when they make a beach vacation that much better.

Beach Vacation Essentials

Wide-Brim Sun Hat

Susan Heinrich wears the Isla Straw Fedora by Gigi Pip
A straw fedora by Gigi Pip sits on an outdoor table next to a vase of wildflowers

I love the beach but have to be careful in the sun: I like to say that I am like a delicate flower, too much sun and I wilt. I’ve also had a basal cell carcinoma on my forehead (skin cancer) so my number one beach vacation essential is a wide-brim hat. I recently bought the Isla Straw Fedora by Gigi Pip because its angled sides shelter my whole face from the sun. Gigi Pip hats are well made and there are lots of styles to choose from. With their cute designs, I am vacation-photo ready, regardless of how crazy my hair looks after a day of at the beach. 

Summersalt Swimsuits

Fit at Fifty and enjoying summer swimming in Canada

Click to shop this suit 

After my sunhat, my Summersalt swimsuits are my new favorite beach essential for several reasons. They are really comfortable and well made. And I love that this brand is inclusive, offering sizes from 0-24. They also show models of all sizes in their suits. And they fit me properly thanks to their “long-torso” styles. Where are my long-waisted, short-legged ladies at?! I’ve bought two and tried on many; I find the fit is generally great, which they attribute to measurements taken from 10,000 women.

And returns and exchanges are free so you can order several to find your favorite.  They don’t seem to have sales very often, but you can get $10 off an order of $95 or more with the code WARMUP10 (as of early 2022). Or, if you’re on Instagram, there are almost always influencers who have a discount code – find them with a search for #summersalt. If you like the suit I am wearing it’s the Sidestroke; it comes in many gorgeous color combos and solids as well.

A woven beach bag with a GoPro camera, sunscreen and cover up visible

Beach Bag

A beach bag is one of the most essential of our beach vacation essentials, and I knew mine would get a lot of wear and tear.  I wanted something that would last, so invested in my beach bag from Eric Javits. It’s big enough for what I need at the beach, but not too big  – so can double as a purse on day outings. I love it. 

I got mine with a significant discount and it was still expensive. It you would like to splurge, here is a similar one: Eric Javits Squishee Bardot. I also love the Cabana Tote by Paravel – the monograms are adorable. (Although I don’t yet own it, it’s on my summer wishlist.) 

And if you’re on a budget and need something shipped fast, the Straw Beach Bag from Amazon is similar to my Eric Javits tote and has great reviews! 

Reef safe sunscreen

Reef Safe Sunscreen

Protect our oceans and wildlife by switching to Reef Safe Sunscreen – perhaps our most important beach essential. Reef safe sunscreens typically use mineral sunblock rather than chemical sunblock. Look for the “Reef Safe” label on the bottle or Zinc Oxide/Titanium Oxide as the main ingredients. Established brands such as Coppertone and Banana Boat are now offering Reef-Safe products as well; those may be easy to find.

I’ve used the All Good Reef-Safe Sunscreen and liked it because it doesn’t leave your skin especially white. Some of them do.

Monos Kiyo UVC Water Bottle

Monos Water Bottle

The Monos Kiyo UVC water bottle is an investment but it ensures that wherever you are you have safe drinking water. With the swipe of a hand, the Kiyo’s UVC technology purifies your water, eradicating up to 99.99% of bacteria, and making it safe to drink. I recently bought mine and I do a much better job staying hydrated at the beach. Water now, margarita later. 

Susan Heinrich reads a kindle e-reader in the pool at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Kindle E-reader

For many of us, a good book is a beach vacation essential. I used to bring physical books with me on vacation, but I am trying to travel lighter, so recently switched to a Kindle e-reader. It’s  so slim and lightweight that I forget it’s in my bag. And I can store several books – far more than I could ever bring with on vacation. I still love holding an actual book in my hands, but I am never going back to bringing them on a beach vacation. They are just too heavy. 

A Joby mini tripod holds a phone ready to take a photo

Mini Tripod

This Joby GripTight mini tripod for iphones comes with me on every beach vacation. It’s how I get selfies or family photos when no one else is available to take them. The legs are entirely adjustable, so I can balance it on a surfboard or wrap it around a tree branch. 

Susan Heinrich and her family at a table at Mama's Fish House
A pair of Allbirds, sustainably made wool runners, ideal for travel

AllBirds Runners

These wool runners by AllBirds are lightweight, breathable and naturally anti-bacterial. If they get wet, they dry nicely with no lingering wet shoe smell. And they are so soft, I can wear them without socks – they’re the comfiest runners I’ve ever owned. They are perfect for travel days, exercise while away and hiking – if that’s something you end up doing. Hiking was definitely a part of my beach vacation to Hawaii so I was glad I had them. 

a hammock hangs over the ocean

Packable Travel Hammock

Depending on where you go, a travel hammock can be a fun addition. You may not need it if you are spending a week at a resort, but it can be great if your beachside Airbnb doesn’t have one, or to hang between a couple of palm trees on a day trip to a deserted beach. Mine is definitely coming on my next beach holiday so I can re-create this photo.  It’s amazing that something that packs up to the size of a grapefruit can so much fun.  I have the XX brand. If it’s not available these ones are very well-reviewed and super lightweight. 

Underwater view a surfboard in the ocean off Kaanapali Beach Maui

GoPro Waterproof Camera

I finally got a waterproof camera for a recent beach vacation to Hawaii and am so glad I did. I was able to get wonderful photos of our snorkelling and surfing adventures. For me, capturing our special holiday moments is a beach vacation essential. 

I have the GoPro Hero 9 Black if is out of your budget, consider an older model, such as the GoPro Hero 7. It’s  a great quality camera for half the price.

Susan Heinrich snorkels near Kaanapali Beach Maui

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For more on planning and packing for a vacation, you might enjoy my story: Smart Pack Hacks: A Guide for Overpackers.

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About - Midlife Globetrotter

Hey there,

I’m glad you’re here. Can we talk about midlife? I reached my late 40’s, realized my kids were growing up, and adventure began calling in a new way: big travel adventures as well as everyday ones. I want Midlife Globetrotter to be a place where we explore how to add a sense of fun, freedom and meaning to these precious years. Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, and all that’s ahead.




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