I’m in palm tree heaven currently poolside at the gorgeous El San Juan Resort on the lush island of Puerto Rico. It seems as if the trees instinctively sway to the beat of the reggaeton music played by the DJ. My roots are in the Caribbean, and when I am homesick, nothing makes me feel better than one of my favorite songs: “No Letting Go” by Wayne Wonder.

To be surrounded by tropical flora is a grounding experience.  The natural beauty encourages me to slow down, breathe in the fresh air, and feel the sunshine on my face. It reminds me to appreciate the simple things in life, enjoy the moment, admire the wild flowers, feel the sand, and dip my toes in the waves of the sea. As I’m hypnotized by the fronds swaying, I truly get lost in the moment. For a brilliant second in time, I feel completely at one with the world. My cares slip away, my body sinks into my chair, the sunshine kisses my face and the warm, salty air is just right. Pure relaxation; the promise of island life. Easy-breezy worry free days, and I begin to wonder, why do I ever leave the Caribbean? Deep inside though, I have the heart of a wanderer, and for me it’s all about the journey. So I take this sweet moment, bottle it, and keep it with me as a reminder of who I am and the islands from which I came. When packing for a relaxing island getaway, I have six essentials for being beach ready:

1. A variety of swimsuits: In a combination of solids and patterns, I pack a classic style bikini that fits perfectly and makes me feel beautiful, a Brazilian bikini for tanning, and a sporty bikini for water sports or excursions . I always have the intention of finding a new swimsuit while on vacation; it’s a fun souvenir and supports local stores.

2. Mix and match cover-ups: I prefer cover ups I can throw on and instantly feel chic, like this one from Lisa Cappalli.  Right now I love kimonos with lace or fringe details that just hang low enough to cover my suit.

3. A hat: From poolside to exploring Old San Juan, a Panama hat is perfect for Puerto Rico.

4. Polarized sunnies: I love sunglasses with gold accents, especially these Ray Bans.

5. Sunblock: I use Eminence Bright Moisturizer 30SPF on my face and Kiss My Face 30 SPF on my body. I would love to make my own SPF Moisturizer, if anyone has any good tips on recipes!

6. Sandals: I pack two pairs of chic flat sandals that can easily transition from poolside to lobby to evening, and a simple flip flop in a neutral color that can get sandy and wet at the beach.

My next beach destination is the Bahamas. When is your island getaway? What are some your beach travel must haves?

Photographer: Hannah Schuck, Enchantment Photography

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