5 Ways to Make Any Beach Your Personal Paradise

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Every summer, locals and tourists alike flock to the beautiful waters of the Myrtle Beach area. Surfside Beach, Garden City Beach, North Myrtle Beach–each has its own charm, and everyone has their favorite.  But how do you make sure the flock doesn't spoil your fun in the sand? Here are five ways to create your perfect beach spot:

Claim your turf. If you're at a resort or beach that rents chairs and umbrellas, take advantage! You can have two chairs and an umbrella for the day for $25 from the parks department of North Myrtle Beach.  No one will want their view of the waves blocked by your shade, so other beachgoers will spread out.

Bring an extra towel. You won't want to be under your umbrella the entire day, so grab a little extra sand next to your chair with a beach towel. Skincare experts will tell you to wear long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat when you're out of the water, but at least be sure to slather on plenty of sunscreen, every two hours and just after you've come out of the water.

Don't forget the entertainment. Load up your iPod with Beach Boys hits, or use your radio-enabled MP3 player to tune into 94.9 The Surf for beachy oldies. Charge your ebook reader and fill it with beach reads set in Myrtle Beach, like The Sound of Us by Ashley Poston or SOS by Barbara Arntsen.

Stock the cooler. Keep your food cold with a flexible ice alternative like the MaxCold Natural Ice Sheet, which is filled with water but won't leave your ham sandwich soggy. A mini condiment set from World Market will let the kids cover their lunch in ketchup without having to lug along half of the refrigerator. The Define Bottle will keep you hydrated with fruit-infused water as the sand heats up.

Arrive early. One of the incredible things about the ocean is the way it holds its heat even when the land goes cold overnight. So even though you're most likely to get a sunburn in the afternoon, the ocean is plenty warm for swimming in the morning. Beat the crowds when the sun is still low in the sky and hop right in the water to warm up.

If you dream of your own private island but don't have the bank account to back it up, these five tips will help you turn any beach into a paradise.

(posted 3/21/14)