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The 11 Things I Always Bring to the Beach (And I’ve Gone Weekly for 16 Years)

The author under her Neso tent at the Rockaways. Photo: Bianca Buchanan

In last week’s issue of New York, Bianca Buchanan, a dental hygienist who has been visiting different New York beaches weekly every summer for the past 16 years, shared her recommendations on the city’s best — from the best beach for swimming if you’re afraid of waves (it’s in Staten Island, apparently) to the quietest stretch of the Rockaways (the low 60s, where, if you go during the week, you may see only five other people). In all her years of beachgoing, Buchanan has not only discovered the best local stretches of sand, but also the best things to bring with you when you’re planning on spending a day in the sun — including an extremely light tent and a brightly colored flag (so your friends can find you when there’s no cell phone service). Below, she shares her 11 beach essentials.

I have a whole bunch of these waterproof mats that fold up and have a little handle. They’re super easy to tote around. Plus, they’re thick and comfortable to lay on, so you don’t really need to bring a towel if you’re just going to catch some rays.

I’ve also heard about, but haven’t yet used, these blankets that are apparently totally sand-repellent. I am very interested in trying one this summer. It seems like a good way to make sure the backseat of your car never gets gross and sandy.

Cooler-wise, I like Coleman’s soft ones. They’re light, easy to carry, and they have pockets for ice packs so you can keep whatever’s inside cool all day.

Everyone has a Sport-Brella for a tent, but I prefer portable canopies from a brand called Neso. They look like a tarp held down at the corners by sandbags (which you fill with sand when you get to the beach). It’s great in the wind, and keeps you cool underneath. And when the sandbags are empty, each tent weighs just four pounds.


I have an Anker phone charger so I can charge my phone on the beach. But the Rockaways has solar-powered charging stations now, so if you’re going there, you’re all set.

Here’s a funny tip: Crocs has all of these cute sandals that are very waterproof and very comfortable. They are like Maryam Nassir Zadeh meets, well, Crocs.