Sunset, Sand, and Romance: Plan the Perfect Beach Picnic for Two!

Picture a place where a soft sea breeze touches your skin, the sound of waves is like music, and the view goes on forever – a great spot for a romantic beach picnic. This timeless date idea mixes a simple outdoor meal with the stunning beach setting, making a memorable and intimate experience for you and your partner.

Planning the Most Romantic Picnic on the Beach

Perfect Spot

Having a great beach picnic often depends on picking the right place. It’s more than just finding a spot on the sand. You need to think about things like comfort, privacy, and the whole experience. In this post, I’ll go into detail about what to think about when choosing the best spot for your beach picnic.

Consider the Crowd

The first factor to consider is the crowd level. Popular beaches can be crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. If you’re seeking a quiet, intimate setting, aim for less popular beaches or visit during off-peak times, such as early mornings or weekdays. Sometimes, a short walk away from the main area can lead to quieter spots.

Assess the Terrain

The physical characteristics of the beach are crucial. Look for flat areas as they are more comfortable for sitting and setting up your picnic. Avoid rocky areas or places with a lot of seaweed or debris. Also, consider the tide; setting up too close to the water can be risky if the tide comes in.

Check Accessibility

Consider how easy it is to get to the spot. If you’re carrying a lot of picnic supplies, a long walk or a challenging hike to a secluded spot might not be practical. Accessibility is also important if one of you has mobility concerns.

Proximity to Amenities

Being close to public amenities like restrooms and parking lots can be convenient, especially for longer picnics. However, these areas might be busier, so find a balance between convenience and privacy.

Sun and Shade

Think about your sun exposure preference. Some people love basking in the sun, while others prefer a shady spot. Beaches with natural shade from cliffs, trees, or large rocks are ideal for those who prefer to stay cool. Alternatively, consider bringing a beach umbrella.

Wind Conditions

Beaches can be windy, which might affect your picnic. Check the weather forecast for wind conditions and plan accordingly. Windbreakers or a spot near natural wind barriers like rocks or vegetation can be helpful.

Privacy Matters

For a romantic picnic, privacy is key. Look for spots that are out of the main foot traffic paths. Secluded coves or nooks can provide a more intimate setting.

Scenic Views

The view can make your picnic spot special. A spot with a view of the sunset, for example, can add a magical touch to your evening.

Safety First

Always consider safety. Avoid areas that are too isolated, especially if you plan to stay until dusk. Also, be aware of local wildlife and avoid areas that might be home to intrusive animals.

My boyfriend and I often enjoy picnics together, alternating who plans and sets them up. Living in Southern California, beach picnics are a regular activity for us. Sometimes, we take a fun bike ride to the beach, which helps us find less crowded spots. The baskets on our bikes are handy for carrying essentials, though we're limited in how much we can bring.

When we're not biking, we drive to the beach, allowing us to bring more items. We usually park near the beach to avoid carrying heavy coolers too far. Crystal Cove State Park is a favorite spot of ours, though parking can be tricky. We often park below the campground and walk a short distance to our picnic spot, navigating a small water crossing under a bridge.

I've bought a small picnic table from Amazon, perfect for a bottle of wine or champagne and glasses. Our picnic food varies from salads and sandwiches to charcuterie boards with cheese, crackers, and fruits like grapes and strawberries, often accompanied by chocolates. For drinks, we bring beer, wine, sangria, mimosas, and always water.

We've had no issues with the lifeguards regarding alcohol, as we keep it discreet and behave responsibly. However, it's worth noting that alcohol and glass are technically prohibited on the beach. We also bring a Bluetooth speaker for music, keeping the volume low. Cleaning up after ourselves is a priority, ensuring we leave the beach as beautiful as we found it.

These picnics are special to us, particularly when we get to cuddle and watch the sunset. It’s a simple yet romantic way to spend time together.

Picnic Essentials

To ensure your beach picnic is as enjoyable as possible, it’s important to pack the right essentials.

The Right Picnic Basket or Cooler

Choose a sturdy and spacious picnic basket or cooler to keep your food and drinks fresh. Coolers are ideal for hot days to keep perishables and beverages chilled. Ensure it’s easy to carry, especially if you have a bit of a walk to your chosen picnic spot.

Comfortable Seating

A large, comfortable blanket is essential for any beach picnic. Look for one that’s sand-resistant or easy to shake clean. For added comfort, consider bringing beach chairs or cushions, especially if you plan to stay for an extended period.

Food and Beverages

Pack a selection of easy-to-eat, non-perishable foods. Sandwiches, wraps, fruit, salads, and snacks like chips or nuts are great options. For beverages, water is a must to stay hydrated, along with any other drinks like sodas, juice, or iced tea. If it’s a special occasion, a bottle of wine or champagne can add a romantic touch.

our picnic food

Utensils and Serving Ware

Don’t forget the practical items like plates, cups, napkins, and utensils. Consider using reusable items to minimize waste. A cutting board and a sharp knife can also be handy for preparing food on-site.

Sun Protection

The beach means exposure to the sun, so bring sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself. An umbrella or a pop-up tent can provide necessary shade and a break from direct sunlight.

Clean-Up Supplies

Always pack trash bags for cleanup to leave the beach as pristine as you found it. Wet wipes or a small hand towel can be useful for cleaning hands and faces after eating.

Entertainment

Bring along items for entertainment, such as a portable speaker for music, a book, a frisbee, or a beach ball. If you plan to stay into the evening, some battery-powered lanterns or fairy lights can create a magical atmosphere.

Extra Clothing

Depending on the weather and how long you plan to stay, extra clothing like a sweater or a change of clothes can be a good idea. A towel is also essential, whether for a swim or just to dry off after a walk along the shore.

Emergency Kit

A small first-aid kit for unexpected scrapes or cuts and any personal medications is always wise to include. Additionally, a portable charger for your phone can be a lifesaver, especially in case of emergencies.

Setting the Scene

The beauty of a beach setting offers a naturally picturesque backdrop, but with a few extra touches, you can transform it into a truly magical and romantic atmosphere.

Laying the Foundation

Spread out a large, comfortable blanket to define your picnic area. Consider layering blankets for extra comfort. Adding beach cushions or throw pillows can provide additional seating comfort and create a cozy, inviting space.

Creating Ambiance with Lighting

If your picnic extends into the evening, lighting is key to creating ambiance. Battery-operated fairy lights, lanterns, or even a string of portable LED lights can add a warm and romantic glow. Candles in wind-protected holders can also create a charming effect but be mindful of safety and beach regulations.

Adding a Touch of Decor

Incorporate simple decor elements to enhance the setting. A small centerpiece, like a vase with fresh flowers or a decorative item, can add a personal touch. Consider color-coordinating your blankets, cushions, and decor for a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing setup.

Setting the Table

Arrange your picnic spread in an appealing way. Use a serving board for cheeses, fruits, or snacks, and set out plates and utensils in an organized manner. A chilled bottle of wine or a pitcher of lemonade can be both functional and visually pleasing.

Music for the Mood

A portable speaker playing soft music can add to the ambiance without overpowering the natural beach sounds. Choose a playlist that both you and your partner enjoy and that complements the serene setting.

Personal Touches

Incorporate elements that are meaningful to you and your partner. This could be a particular type of flower, a favorite snack, or even a custom-made sign with a meaningful quote or date.

Planning for Comfort

Have a plan for shade and sun protection during the day, like an umbrella or a sunshade. As the evening cools, having a cozy blanket or shawl on hand can keep you comfortable.

Capturing the Moment

Don’t forget to bring a camera or use your phone to capture the special moments. Photos of your beautifully set scene will be a wonderful reminder of your beach picnic.

Activities

Pack a deck of cards, beach ball, frisbee or even a kite for some light-hearted entertainment. These small activities can add an element of playfulness to your date.

Savoring the Moment

The beach setting encourages a sense of connection and intimacy, making it an ideal place to deepen your bond.

Capturing the Sunset

As the day turns to evening, watch the sky transform into a canvas of vibrant colors. This magical moment can be the highlight of your beach picnic, symbolizing the beauty and uniqueness of your relationship.

How I Usually Set Up My Own Picnics

our beach picnic set up
Our beach picnic set up

My boyfriend and I often enjoy picnics together, alternating who plans and sets them up. Living in Southern California, beach picnics are a regular activity for us. Sometimes, we take a fun bike ride to the beach, which helps us find less crowded spots. The baskets on our bikes are handy for carrying essentials, though we’re limited in how much we can bring.

beach picnic with strawberries

When we’re not biking, we drive to the beach, allowing us to bring more items. We usually park near the beach to avoid carrying heavy coolers too far. Crystal Cove State Park is a favorite spot of ours, though parking can be tricky.

our picnic food with mimosas at the beach
Our picnic at Crystal Cove State Beach. Mimosas and snacks

We often park below the campground and walk a short distance to our picnic spot, navigating a small water crossing under a bridge.

picnic and sunset at crystal cove state beach
Picnic and sunset at Crystal Cove State beach

I’ve bought a small picnic table from Amazon, perfect for a bottle of wine or champagne and glasses.

beach picnic at strands beach
Simple beach picnic at Strands Beach

Our picnic food varies from salads and sandwiches to charcuterie boards with cheese, crackers, and fruits like grapes and strawberries, often accompanied by chocolates.

picnic on the beach at Strands beach
Picnic on the beach with crackers, fruits, chocolate, and Sangria

For drinks, we bring beer, wine, sangria, mimosas, and always water.

sangria and beach picnic
Sangria

We’ve had no issues with the lifeguards regarding alcohol, as we keep it discreet and behave responsibly. However, it’s worth noting that alcohol and glass are technically prohibited on the beach.

Our picnic in Doheny State Beach
Our picnic at Doheny State Beach. Chips, guacamole, and Sangria

We also bring a Bluetooth speaker for music, keeping the volume low. Cleaning up after ourselves is a priority, ensuring we leave the beach as beautiful as we found it.

picnic on the beach at doheny state beach
Sangria and chocolates

These picnics are special to us, particularly when we get to cuddle and watch the sunset. It’s a simple yet romantic way to spend time together.

our picnic table with sunset in the background
Watching the sunset

Conclusion: A Memory to Treasure

A romantic beach picnic is not just a date; it’s an opportunity to enjoy the simple and romantic aspects of life. It’s a time to leave behind daily stress and focus on the beauty of nature and spending time with each other.

beautiful sunset at doheny state beach

So pack your picnic basket, head to the shore, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

me on the beach
About the author

Hi, I'm Kat, the adventurous spirit behind TasteCaliforniaTravel, your guide to the hidden wonders of California. Having called California home for the last 15 years, I am thrilled to take you along on my journey and share the adventures that this incredible state has to offer.

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