Sand. Sun. And the smell of salty, sea air. Whether you’re in it, on it, or just adjacent, gazing at it fondly, there’s nothing like spending time by the ocean.
Yet, despite the simplicity of the setting, however, those rolling waves and coastal days require complicated packing lists, accouterments for every eventuality, and snacks to fuel all the fun. In short: don’t let those ads fool you. Unless you’re traveling solo or have the good fortune to live on a beach—We mean literally, on it. Like 10 feet from a working restroom with soap and chaise lounges on which to rest—it is, scientifically speaking, impossible to take a trip to the beach without a carful of things.
Things like towels and sunscreen. Things like extra bathing suits and swimming trunks. Things like wetsuits and boogie boards and plastic shovels and sandwiches that will surely be soggy before you arrive. Still, there are elegant ways to enjoy the ocean—with or without actually going. For those ocean-lovers in your life, here’s a list of our favorite ways to enhance, enjoy and protect that vast, life-giving body of water that brings so much joy. And so much stuff.
Sanuk – Cozy Vibe Surf Check booties
Move over, Ugg. These go-everywhere booties were made with natural materials like hemp, Tencel, sugarcane and responsibly-sourced leather. The Cozy Vibe Surf Checks have all the wooly, comfy insides you want, plus a cotton-canvas upper that’s lightweight enough to work through the seasons. Plus, the button-close sides and heel-pull at the back make them perfect for easy-on, easy-off jaunts to the sand and back, and everywhere in between.
Picture – EicoPrene wetsuits
Started in 2008 by three enterprising, adventure-sport-loving friends, Picture is a French outdoor wear company on a mission to combine care for the planet with carefully-crafted gear. The company started with snowboard jackets, incorporating recycled and upcycled fabrics, and moved on to create everything from men’s surf board shorts made of recycled polyester to ski helmets from recycled rubber. Along the way, Picture has continually refined its manufacturing processes to minimize its carbon footprint and maximize its sustainability. For ocean lovers, however, it’s their eco-friendly wetsuit that caught our attention. Picture created a line of men’s and women’s wetsuits from EicoPrene, a material composed of limestone (70%) and recycled tires (30%), plus a solvent-free glue in its construction. Surf lovers, rejoice.
Nixon – Time Teller OPP
Nixon has long been a staple brand in the surf, snow and skate worlds, offering a range of watches for life on land and in the water. With Time Teller OPP (other people’s plastics), Nixon brings a dose of planet-friendly material sourcing to its wristwear game. In recent years, the company has been increasing its use of reclaimed plastics in its products, and the Time Teller is an incredibly durable-but-stylish addition. With a soft, rubber strap that fits a surprisingly wide range of sizes and a low-profile, 39.5mm case, it’s an all-purpose piece that goes easily from beach to street and surf to desk.
Left on Friday – women’s swimsuits
“I’d love to try on bikinis today.” Said literally no one, ever. That was before Left on Friday, a woman-owned, premium swimwear brand that makes the seasonal bane of every woman’s existence elegant, fun and—wait for it—comfortable. Made with two layers of compression fabric that stays put in the water and out (LOF calls it “Smoothing Dream Fabric ™.” Yes, that name is trademarked.), their suits come in a range of on-trend, mix-and-match silhouettes and colors. Simply put, this US-Canadian company is simply a game changer. Get your female ocean-lover a gift certificate and call it a summer trousseau.
Perhaps nothing says “I love the ocean” more than putting one’s salt-crusted, sweaty money where their do-gooder mouth is. One of the biggest and oldest organizations fighting to keep oceans clean and healthy is the Surfrider organization. Founded in 1984, the national nonprofit has grown from buddies who were worried about the impact of development at their local surf break into a massive force for change with 80 chapters and more than one million supporters and volunteers. From plastic reduction to clean water and beach access to coastal protection, Surfrider is the ocean’s biggest ally. With a gift membership, your ocean-loving loved one will be, too.
Little Hands – Body & Face Mineral Sunscreen Tin
Little Hands mineral sunscreen is often sold out for a reason. It’s not only safe for oceans, reefs and humans, but unlike other brands it smells like a dream and goes on skin like butter. Butter, that is, that’s been out in the sun just long enough to be spreadable. Made in Hawaii with zinc molecules too big to be absorbed in the skin (known as “non-nano zinc”), it also has ingredients like organic jojoba oil, vitamin E oil and local beeswax. Not only do those additions soothe and hydrate skin, but they also feel fantastic. Finally, Little Hands has been part of Mana Up, a collective that promotes and supports Hawaiian entrepreneurs and businesses.
Almond Surfboards – R-Series Recycling Program
Since the global pandemic shuttered gyms, yoga studios and every other indoor place, outdoor sports saw a surge in participation unlike any other. Bikes of all kinds became hot commodities. Running shoes saw a run on sizes and availability. And in places where waves break (everywhere from Maine to Florida and Tofino to San Diego), surf lineups suddenly became filled with first-timers who took the opportunity to test their wave-riding mettle. They started buying soft-top boards in droves—made of soft foam on top and sturdy plastic underneath, these beginner-friendly boat-like boards were suddenly ubiquitous. And one company, the independent boardmaker Almond Surfboards, decided to make them part of a more sustainable solution to plastic pollution—not just another plastic thing adding to the problem. Enter their R-Series Recycling Program, which not only reuses the materials in their own boards, but incentivizes customers to recycle by offering a $50 voucher for those who retire their R-Series sticks. It’s a virtuous circle, laden with salt, surfwax, and water. Ocean not included.