Hawaiian Tropic? Check. Walmart beach towels? Check. Lilly Pulitzer? Check.

couple on beach overlooking balcony
Hawaiian Tropic? Check. Walmart beach towels? Check. Lilly Pulitzer? Check.

When it comes to our beach destinations of choice, Southerners are loyalists. Sure, we'll occasionally experiment with a new place to broaden our horizons—say, forego Destin this year and try Pensacola for a change. But for the most part, an Outer Banks diehard is not likely to spring out of bed one morning and announce, "I'm thinkin' South Padre this year!"

When we do venture out, we tend to judge this new upstart of a beach against the very high standards set by our longtime favorite. Mama will say things like, "Well, isn't this different?" or "I guess it suits some people." Atlantic Coasters visiting the Gulf for the first time wonder where all the big waves are, while people who grew up vacationing on Gulf beaches in Alabama and Mississippi will take one look at the pounding surf on Hatteras Island and think, "That's gonna chew our floats all to pieces."

Whether you're packing beach essentials for a trip to Myrtle Beach, Key West, or Port Aransas, we think we know what's going on your beach packing list. Why? Because despite our differences regarding destinations, we are, for the most part, together on what to take to the beach. There are some things we simply cannot live without when we're surfside.


"Let's plan on eating breakfast in."

Bagels & cream cheese

"Why don't we just cook us a hamburger for lunch today instead of fighting that crowd at Pineapple Willy's?"

Seasonings and condiments (salt, pepper, Duke's, Dale's, Wickles, mustard, ketchup)
Bread/buns/BBQ bread
Hamburger meat
Pound of BBQ from favorite joint on the beach route
Basket of peaches, plus Vidalia onions and five or six tomatoes, from our favorite roadside stand on the beach route

"Bless their hearts, their water tastes awful."

bottled water
Diet Coke
Special "beach beverages"
"Is it me or does the beach make you crave salt?"
potato chips
corn chips
nacho chips & salsa
snack crackers

"Let's just stock up, and then we won't have to worry about running out of anything."

Paper towels
Bar soap & an array of hair products
Toilet tissue
Garbage bags
Dish washing detergent
Laundry detergent


Walmart beach towels
Big cooler for carting fresh shrimp home
Small cooler for carting beverages to the beach
Beach chair and umbrella in case those rental guys at the Phoenix are charging too much
(Scratch that. Who cares what it costs? We're on vacation!!!)
Enough beach toys to entertain all the children of the entire world
Daddy's fishing gear


Hawaiian Tropic
Banana Boat
Aloe vera post-sun lotion/gel
Super-cute new sunglasses
Super-cute new beach cover-up
Super-cute new flip-flops
Super-cute new sun visor with a sea horse or starfish on it


Super-cute new swimsuit with industrial-strength Lycra
Super-cute new shorts and tops
Super-cute new Lilly Pulitzer sundresses
Super-cute new sandals (6 pairs)


Homemade fudge
Boogie board or float
Cheesy salt and pepper shakers shaped like flamingos
"I Slept on [Destination of Your Choice] Beach Last Night" airbrushed tee
Big floppy hat we will never wear again, but it seemed entirely appropriate on vacation
Hooded sweatshirt in white, pink, or dreamsicle orange, emblazoned with the name of whatever beach we're strolling (because it can get a little chilly with that wind coming off the water at night)

WATCH: Southern Places You're Probably Mispronouncing

We could've filled a whole video with places from Louisiana alone. Next time those older kids restless on the way to the beach, make a game of pronouncing road signs . . . especially if you're crossing Mississippi's Tchoutacabouffa River.