St. Thomas Day One: Beach Day
Wondering what to do on your St. Thomas Vacation? Follow our series, St. Thomas With Kids, to see what we did on our 6 days in St. Thomas with our 7 year old, Ella, and 3 year old, John. Here is Day One:
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On our first day in St. Thomas, we slept until around 8am, had a casual breakfast in the condominium, and then started getting ready for the beach. On our family vacations it’s all about relaxation, so we don’t rush around or plan too much. We like to go with the flow to feel like it’s a break from our more scheduled days back home. (Okay, “scheduled” is used loosely, since as a flight attendant and pro sailor, outside of work we have very flexible schedules. It’s necessary for our ever-changing work schedules to be adaptable in our home schedules.)
As we began prepping for the beach, John said to me, “Mommy, can you put me in my bed?” Well, when a preschooler asks to go to bed, you take it seriously! If you have a three year old, or have been through that stage already, you know what a rare request this was. So I put him in bed and he napped for about 3.5 hours! While he napped, Wally (my husband) and Ella went snorkeling. Wally spotted a sea turtle, but couldn’t direct Ella’s attention to it in time. The turtle got out of their line of vision and they couldn’t find it again. Ella saw lots of Angelfish, a school of “teeny tiny fish in the shallows all around me”, and some beautiful fan coral, and a coral reef “a lot of white coral on the coral reef”. They were snorkeling for about 45 minutes. I’m still amazed that Ella is a strong enough swimmer to go snorkeling without floatation. I’m not such a water person myself, and I use a snorkel vest when I go snorkeling. Without it I can keep afloat, but I panic.
Preschooler ready for the beach: Sun Hat
, Surf suit, Sunglasses, Life Vest, Crocs.
Once John woke up I headed to the beach with him. He played in the sand and explored around the tree that Ella was climbing. She loves to climb and there is an amazing tree on the beach just perfect for climbing. She climbed up while “hunting with her eyes” for iguana. She spotted one high in the neighboring tree. We watched some ducks walk along the shoreline, and Ella finished the day off with “surfing” on a body board. “Cowabunga!”
John wanted to be just like Ella and climb the tree too. He was very excited to sit on the tree branch.
I have been trying to get away from sunscreens with harmful chemicals in them. Particularly trying to avoid oxybenzone, an endocrine disruptor, which is in our most tried-and-true sunscreen, Aveeno Baby. I tried Burn Out Kids Broad Spectrum 35spf, and sadly discovered that, at least for water sports, this sunscreen is ineffective. In their defense, it does not claim on the packaging to be water resistant. Poor Ella got badly burned on her face and hands. Fortunately she was wearing long sleeves and long pants with SPF protection (Tuga board shirt and Coolibar Skirted Swim Tights). John and I used the Burn Out Kids sunscreen too, but we were mostly in the shade, so didn’t really put it to the test for effectiveness out of the water. Continuing the quest for safe and effective sun protection….
(Update 2/10/2017: I found a safe and effective sunscreen! My daughter Ella used it all summer at beach camp and never got burned. Babyganics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen, SPF 50, rubs on easily and stays on great. It’s the only sunscreen we use now.)
One of the best things about staying in a condo right on the beach is the flexibility of schedule. We’re staying in a condo adjacent to the Grandparents’ condo, which is so nice. Our porches join with a door between but without going outside. John likes to go over to play with the Grandparents and it’s nice that we can give him the freedom to walk over on his own. After dinner Ella did some coloring with her Grandma.
Everyone was exhausted by the end of the beach day and Wally and the kids were in bed by 8:30. Actually, Wally just laid down for a moment and fell asleep with a headlamp flashlight on his head and his shoes still on! He woke up about an hour later to get ready for bed properly. Ella was asleep within ten minutes, which is amazing for her since she often takes an hour to fall asleep. It was a good beach day!
Tips for the Beach:
- Always wear sunscreen, remembering to reapply after being in the water. SPF protective clothing is a great way to ensure protection for especially active kids.
- Baby powder works wonders for removing sand. A great way to use the powder without risking harmful inhalation is a powder mitt, available here
- Don’t forget bug spray. Right now in many beach destinations, Zika virus is a big concern. But even aside from that, mosquitos and “no-see-ums” can be a real pest. Bug spray isn’t first on my mind when I’m headed to the beach, so I just wanted to remind you here.
What’s in our Beach Bag:
(A few of these things we didn’t pack this time in our beach bag, since the condo is only 2,000 feet away. But on a beach day trip, this is what I recommend):
- Baby powder/Sand-Off! Sand Wipe Off Mitt
- Spare swim diapers
- Baby wipes
- Hand Sanitizing Wipes
- Small bottle of vinegar (in case of jellyfish stings—see tips below)
- Swimsuit cover up
- Beach towels
- Insect Repellent
- Waterproof Band-Aids
- Snacks (We love using Snackeez for the kids. It makes it easy to have your drink and snack in one place. Just be careful if you put the cups into your beach bag. They will leak from the straw hole if tipped over.)
- Hats and sunglasses
- Sand Toys
- Tissues, packed in a Ziploc bag to prevent getting wet
- A few spare Ziploc bags for shell or trash collecting
How to Treat Jellyfish Stings:
This is a tip you should read before you are stung by a jellyfish. I honestly never thought about it until last year when Ella was stung by a jellyfish while snorkeling. I was trying to look up treatment on my phone with a very poor cell signal, while at the same time trying to calm Ella and it was very stressful! Reading these tips from WebMD will have you prepared in case of the unfortunate event of a jellyfish sting: Jellyfish Stings Treatment (WebMD).
That’s how we enjoy a day at the beach! What do you and your family enjoy most on the beach? Do you have any beach tips to add? We’d love to hear about your beach adventures and tips in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. Share a beach picture and tip with us and we’ll share it with credit to you on our social media pages.