Is a visit to one of the Pensacola Bay area beaches in your future? Putting a little thought into what you bring to the beach can make your stay more enjoyable. By planning ahead, you can have more time to relax and have fun doing the things you want to do while you’re here.

Beach Essentials

Book

Even though I live in a beach community, I still need to pack a few essentials for a day at the beach. In my beach bag, you will find:

  • Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Flip-flops
  • Beach towels
  • Water to drink (Your choice of cold beverage is fine so long as it is not in a glass container!)
  • Sand toys and a volleyball
  • A good book or magazine
  • A small bag or container to keep cash, an ID and cell phone protected from the sand and water

Other items you might want to take along are a cooler for drinks and snacks, beach chairs and an umbrella, a rod and reel for fishing, a kite or pool float. If you are wading in the Santa Rosa Sound or any of the area’s natural preserves, consider bringing water shoes to protect your feet from shells. Of course, don’t forget your swimsuit and plenty of comfortable clothes and shoes for the duration of your stay.

Beach Rules

Our family’s rule – especially for beach toys – is: If you carry it to the beach, you have to carry it back from the beach. This prevents Mom and Dad from having to lug every last bucket and shovel back to dry land. It’s also just a good lesson in being a responsible human being (Hey, we try!). Also, leaving personal property on the beach after sunset is illegal in Escambia County, and items will be discarded.

Sand Toys

Trash cans are provided near beach entrances, and you are asked to fill in any holes you may dig in the sand as they can trap sea turtles that nest on the shore from May through October. Protecting the sea turtles is also why you are asked to turn off beach-facing porch lights after dusk and refrain from using flashlights on the beach at night. Motorized vehicles, generators, grills and open flames are prohibited on the beach, as well.

Are you bringing a dog to the beach? My dog is not a fan of sand, but many dogs love the chance to play and exercise on the coast. Dogs are welcome at designated dog beaches. You’ll find two dog beaches at Pensacola Beach for dogs on leashes and their owners. Perdido Key has a designated space for dogs to play off leash. As always, please be courteous and remove pet waste.

If this seems like a lot of rules, the easiest thing to remember is to leave only footprints. If you follow that advice, you will help to preserve the natural beauty of the beaches and ensure that all residents and guests can have an enjoyable experience.

Beach Safety

At Pensacola Beach, you may notice colored flags flying at lifeguard stations and other beach entrances. These are part of the flag warning system designed to alert the public about surf conditions. You may see green, yellow, red or purple flags, and here’s what they mean:

Pier Flag

Green flag – Conditions are calm. Swim with usual caution.

Yellow flag – This represents moderate surf and currents. Swim with extra caution.

Red flag – This means high surf and dangerous currents. No swimming or wading is allowed in the Gulf of Mexico.

Double red flag – Only used during hurricanes or natural disasters, this indicates the water is closed to the public. No swimming, wading or surfing is allowed in the Gulf of Mexico.

Purple flag – Dangerous marine life is present. Exercise caution when in the water or on the shoreline.

Current flag colors and surf conditions are also accessible online at pensacolabeachlifeguards.com.

Most importantly, know how to swim if you are going into the Gulf. Lifeguards are located at various points along Pensacola Beach daily from May through September. In the case of an emergency, notify a lifeguard or call 911.

Visit Pensacola Beach is a good resource for more information if you have any questions about specific beach rules or beach safety. The Gulf Islands National Seashore also provides safety tips.

Hopefully this information is helpful as you prepare for your visit. With a well-packed beach bag and knowledge of beach rules and safety, you’ll be ready to explore the beaches in Pensacola. Here’s wishing you safe travels and many green flag days!