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Sun, Sand & Snacks: The 9 Best Foods to Take to the Beach

By , Sun, Sand & Snacks: The 9 Best Foods to Take to the Beach
Swimming and sunbathing can work up a ravenous appetite, but what with the wind, waves, heat and just a few trillion grains of sand, sometimes the best of culinary intentions can go awry when they're brought to the beach. Cheese melts, most fruit wilts and anything egg-based won't smell too great after any length of time in the hot sun.
But that doesn't mean you have to stay hot and hangry until it's time to pack up. With some smart planning, you can pack an easy, appetizing beach spread that will tide you over until the sun goes down. The best coastal cuisine is non-melting, perfectly portable and (more or less) still edible when wet.
Read on for some smart summer snack ideas.
  1. Nuts: Chock full of fiber and protein, nuts will keep you fueled and energized for a full day on the beach. Plus, they're low-maintenance and easily portable. Bring a medley of the classics, such as cashews, pecans, walnuts and almonds. For added sweetness, mix in some dried fruit.
  2. Carrots & Hummus: Curb your salty cravings, load up on filling fiber and get plenty of vitamins, without the empty calories of chips. Buy ready-made single servings of hummus at the supermarket (or make your own), pop them in the cooler and peel back the foil when you’re ready to dip. (No carrots? Bring some homemade pita chips or kale chips instead.)
  3. Celery with Nut Butter: Between surf sessions, your sandy sweeties will love fueling up with this fun, healthy and beach-friendly snack. Simply spread celery sticks with peanut butter or almond butter as needed. Better yet, some nut butters come in single-serve packs you can wait to open until you’re ready.
  4. Lettuce Veggie Wraps: No worries about soggy bread with these Swiss chard-wrapped snacks. For optimal oceanside freshness, wrap them at home in plastic wrap and bring them in a small cooler. (Non-bread sandwiches are also a great way to avoid belly bloat at the beach.)
  5. Watermelon Wedges: Nothing screams summer like fresh sliced watermelon—and as a bonus, they hold their shape and flavor well even in the hot sun. They're best kept in a cooler until snack time.
  6. Granola Bars: It doesn't get much more portable or convenient than bars. Instead of the store-bought versions, try making Coach Nicole's Chewy Oat & Nut Granola Bars—they're packed with satisfying fiber, energizing protein and kid-approved flavor.
  7. Dry Edamame: Who knew young green soybeans could be so satisfying? Dry roasted edamame offers a delicious flavor combined with a crispy, crunchy texture, without the excess sodium or calories of chips. Just a single half-cup serving of edamame packs 14 grams of protein and eight grams of fiber, along with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For more ideas, explore our edamame recipes.
  8. Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds: These durable, portable snacks will survive even the hottest of beach days, and kids love the novelty of them. Don't be fooled by their small size—like most seeds, they're big on vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  9. Trail Mix: It's hard to beat the flavor combination and go-anywhere convenience of trail mix. Kids love the novelty of eating a bunch of yummy ingredients at once, and you'll have peace of mind knowing they're getting protein, fiber and vitamins. Instead of the high-sodium packaged versions, try making it yourself with a blend of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, with the occasional dark chocolate chip (if it’s not too hot out) for a burst of sweetness. 
Tips for Smart Beach Snacking
Now that you've got your snack list, keep your beach picnic peaceful with these tips.
  • Bring a sun shelter. A beach tent or large umbrella will allow kids to fuel up in the cool shade.
  • Don't forget hand sanitizer. Salty, sandy hands don't mix with food. Wet wipes work well, too.
  • Pre-freeze bottles of water. They'll still be refreshingly cold when snack time rolls around.
  • Keep it simple. Go with snacks that have few ingredients and don't require many (or any) utensils.
  • Bring a plastic tablecloth or beach blanket. You won't have to worry about food or drinks staining your blankets, and can easily hose off the tablecloth or wash the blanket at the end of the day.
  • Practice mindful eating. Snacking mindlessly while lounging on a chair and paging through a magazine is a surefire way to overindulge. Pay attention to how much you're consuming and stop when you're full.
  • Observe food safety protocol. Foods that can spoil quickly in the sun—such as salads or casseroles, dishes with mayonnaise, cheeses and meats—should be wrapped and stored in a cooler.
Share your sand-friendly snack tips! What's your favorite food to bring to the beach, and what should be left at home?

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BONNIE1552 4/12/2021
Like the comment to freeze water bottles. Might make for cold water later even on a hot day. Report
SNUZYQ2 1/14/2021
Great idea to freeze some water bottles! Ice cold water on a hot day sounds so refreshing! Thank you for sharing! Report
NOTALOSER1 12/26/2020
Lots of great ideas for my return to the beaches post COVID! One suggestion would be a gallon storage bag with ice in it. Pack snacks in smaller size bags and place inside the larger to keep cold and dry! Report
JAMER123 6/27/2020
We only walk the beach but do carry water. Good suggestions for those that spend time on the beach. Report
FITNIK2020 6/19/2020
The article was really good, and many of the comments asvwell. We only walk on the beach, never lay out in the sun, even in Hawaii. Report
Rather than a blanket or plastic tablecloth (try getting the sand out of that flannel backing), use a very large flat bed sheet. Because the weave is so tight, sand is kept from squeezing through. It's a cinch to shake off and throw in the washer for next time. Report
Small snack packs w/ tuna, salad & crackers work or make tuna using seasoned rice vinegar instead of mayo. We take hard boiled eggs peeled & kept in coolers w/ ice. Pretzels give you some salt. Radishes & scallions wrapped w/ deli meat slices & mustard all work for heartier foods. Gardeneria makes a nice change of pace alongside good old PB&J. Pack the sandwiches in a square Tupperware style container & no squished or soggy bread. V8 or fruit juice in single serve cans is easy to include in the cooler too. Report
Small snack packs w/ tuna, salad & crackers work or make tuna using seasoned rice vinegar instead of mayo. We take hard boiled eggs peeled & kept in coolers w/ ice. Pretzels give you some salt. Radishes & scallions wrapped w/ deli meat slices & mustard all work for heartier foods. Gardeneria makes a nice change of pace alongside good old PB&J. Pack the sandwiches in a square Tupperware style container & no squished or soggy bread. V8 or fruit juice in single serve cans is easy to include in the cooler too. Report
Great ideas. I don’t usually eat on the beach though. I usually take it up on the boardwalk. :) Report
Thank you for these great ideas! Report
I don't usually snack at the beach, but these are good healthy suggestions! I remember having beach days when I was a kid, and fried chicken is the best on the beach, and potato chips... not so healthy for SparkPeople! I like baby carrots and hummus, or just a plain apple would be nice! I agree with another commenter, throw away your organics and don't bury it because it's gross to find someone else's trash who was there before you. Report
Great tips. Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Thanks Report
Great article! Report
Never snacked at the beach, but when we went to the beach, our rooms were right on the beach. Easy to return to to eat. Report
Great suggestions! Report
Great article! Report
Good suggestions. We like to take grapes and baby carrots. I take a small spray bottle of water to rinse the sand off our hands. We would never even think of leaving any trash behind. Report
These sound good but mostly snacks and not a meal if you plan to stay all day. Report
I like to take fruit and veggies and lots of h2o. Never bury your trash in the sand. Report
Great reminders! Thank you! Report
Interesting comments. My best advice: don't snack! Let your body rest from all that insulin stimulation! My best discovery: time restricted eating, a meal at noon and a meal at 5 pm. No snacking, no sweetner in drinks in between meals! Amazing results. A new and easy lifestyle since Oct 2018 = weight loss maintenance, muscle gain, fat loss, improved skin, healed joint inflammation, mental clarity. Report
Nuts and sunflower or pumpkin seeds are the same thing essentially, and trail mix isn't too far off Report
Please, for the love of the ocean, do not bury your trash. Also do not feed the seagulls, though many tourists think this is fun. It's really unsanitary. I have the kids rinse their hands in the water, or pour water over their hands to rinse prior to eating. Wet wipes are good to use after the rinse. We live in Florida, so we live at the beach! Report
Thanks Report
Great list! Thanks! Report
Great tips! Thanks! Report
Great ideas Report
Very appealing suggestions Report
Good ideas. Report
I live at the Atlantic Ocean. Probably tried all these snacksat one time or another. Thanks for reminding me of some I've forgotten.
And please take your trash with you when you leave. The beach is my front yard. Report
I did zumba on the beach and want to bring the family to my next class, so these ideas for food are perfect. Report
We have a bunch of thirty-one thermals and rubbermaid sectionals to keep fresh fruits and veggies cold and sand free Report
Burying your trash in the sand isn't a great option considering that other people's kids will be digging around in the sand.

Hand wipes are a good choice but handwashing is always the best whenever possible.

I thought the article had good ideas for toting HEALTHY foods to the beach. And don't forget plenty of water, not soda.

The point of SparkPeople is to encourage each other to live a healthier life. Otherwise what's the point of being a member? Report
Who the hell totes their organic trash home from the beach?? Bury it in the sand, for pete's sake - - you're on vacation!
I'l agree with packable things like nuts and granola bars, but I'll be damned if I'm going to futz around with carrot sticks and things that require refrigeration. And as I said: it's my vacation - it's liquids all day and delicious horribly unhealthy boardwalk food at night.
Also: use of hand sanitizers screws up your immune system; avoid them. Report
Oregon Coast here. Hot cocoa & a thermos of chili. :-) Report
I totally disagree with the hand sanitizer - except for use AFTER a wet wipe or wash. The sanitizers do nothing to get rid of the sand and salt and sweat and dirt, so you do need to physically wash that off first. Unscented, biodegradable wipes are a good choice when there is nowhere to wash your hands properly, but I also carry biodegradable soap with me with a washcloth and enough extra water to rinse off.

As for snacks, our favourite is a container for each person with sliced cucumbers, carrot fingers, celery fingers, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. These are always sweet and refreshing.

For fruit, I include honeydew melon or cantaloupe along with the watermelon. I have never had oranges, apples, grapes, or pears "wilt" in the heat, but keeping them in the cooler can make them a bit more refreshing.

Don't forget to bring along a few separate garbage bags - one each for trash, recycleables, and organics. A disposable plastic container with a lid is ideal for sunflower seed shells (if that's one of the snacks that you chose to bring). Report