How to Pack the Perfect Beach Cooler
*UPDATED JULY 2019
We can all agree that beach days are the best days! The sun high overhead, the sand between your toes and the ocean surf just waiting to be splashed in. Your Emerald Isle beach vacation means fun times, family memories, and some of the best moments. What could make that any better? In our experience, food can make any day go from good to better to best. That being said, it can be a bit of a challenge to gather the beach toys, towels, sunscreen, and get the family ready to hit the beach while also trying to pack a cooler to fit everyone’s favorite beach snacks. Well, no worries! We have the 101 on packing the perfect cooler for the beach. Read this before you head out of your Emerald Isle rental and onto the sand.
1. Pick the right cooler.
One of the most important steps of packing the cooler is actually having a cooler to pack. The size will obviously depend on how many you will be feeding and whether or not you’ll be bringing a lunch or just a snack. However, no matter what size cooler you’ll be bringing, it’s best to get a cooler with thick, hard walls so that it will be guaranteed to hold in the cool air.
A good rule of thumb is to bring a cooler big enough for everyone to have room for one medium size Tupperware with their food and a water bottle. Keeping that in mind will help you determine a good sized cooler. Once you have decided on your cooler, make sure that you remember to wash it out before you use it. Keep your food from being contaminated and take that extra step.
2. Skip loose ice and try this instead.
Filling your cooler with ice is the next step and probably one of the trickiest. Not enough ice means that everything melts faster and you’re left with a bucket of lukewarm water by the time to you make it to the beach. Too much ice will result in not being able to fit everyone’s snacks, which is a big beach faux pas!
To avoid a big ice disaster, try freezing water bottles or using ice packs instead of pouring loose ice directly inside your cooler. Loose ice is going to melt pretty quickly and get everything very wet. No one wants to eat soggy beach food. Yuck! If you're going to use ice cubes or loose ice of any kind, be sure to put it into freezer bags or containers first so that when it does melt, the water is kept off of your food supply. Freezing water bottles serves a double duty: it keeps your cooler chilled and it quenches your thirst later in the the day. It's a win-win!
3. Pack your cooler wisely.
Begin by packing some of your ice containers on the bottom and sides of the cooler and putting the food and drinks you want to keep cool in the middle. Then, instead of piling ice on top of your food, put some pre-chilled water bottles on top. That way, you can get the most use out of your space and you won’t have to dig through mounds of ice containers to get to your food and beverages!
Another great cooler packing tip is to keep in mind the order that you will be eating your snacks. Pack the food you will be eating later in the day at the bottom, so that you don’t have to dig through the cooler to try to get the food that you packed down there. This will definitely be a time saver, especially when the little ones are hungry and wanting food—and wanting it now. Also remember that if your food is in plastic bags instead of containers, you’ll want to make sure that they are placed near the top so that food inside won’t get crushed on the journey to the beach. No one likes smashed sandwiches and bruised fruit.
4. Keep your cooler cool.
Once you get to the beach, you may think that maintenance of the cooler is now over, that you are finished, that nature will take its course and all you can do is sit back while the ice slowly melts away. Not so! There are few things that you can do to preserve the cool temps in your cooler while at the beach.
The first and most obvious answer is to try and limit the opening and closing of the cooler. This one can be a little difficult when one child after the next gets thirsty, and they all seem to want water at different times. An idea for this one might be to call everyone in at the same to get water together to prevent staggered water times and continuous cooler openings.
Another great hack is to actually bury the cooler about halfway into the sand. The sand further down is cool and can help keep the temperatures cool. If you packed an umbrella, you should share the space underneath with your cooler as well to keep the sun off. Every little bit of shade helps.
One more tip to remember is to limit the food in the cooler to only food that must stay cold. A common mistake that people make is by throwing in chips or crackers in the cooler to save space, but adding food that is warm or room temperature to the cooler will immediately raise the temperature of the cooler. It’s also a waste of space for your other yummy chilled treats.
We hope that these tips and tricks for packing your cooler for the beach and keeping your food nice and chilled will help you to get through your next beach day. Make sure you follow Sun-Surf Realty's blog for more awesome beach tips, tasty recipes for snacks and lunches that you can take with you in your perfectly packed cooler. You can find more beach inspiration on our Pinterest boards, so go ahead and follow us on there too.
HOW DO you PACK YOUR beach cooler? ANY TIPS FOR US?
Now that your cooler packing skills are on par, try these refreshing beach treats! ⤵