In the war against sand, humans can never win. And the sooner you square yourself to the fact that going to the beach is an inherently messy process, the more you'll actually enjoy going to the beach.
That being said, there are strategies we can employ to make the whole thing less sticky and sand-encrusted, and chief among them is this: in addition to your regular beach towel, you should always bring a small hand towel with you to the beach. My friend Penelope — a genius — clued me into the Hand Towel Technique years ago, and my beach trips have been drastically improved ever since.
Picture the scene: You're sunbaking on a secluded stretch of beach with your boyfriend. Nobody is around, so you decide to remove your bikini top and work on your all-over tan. Did you just break the law? Or do conservative ninnies need to mind their own damn business?
The same logic behind bringing a larger beach blanket for sitting — versus your beach towel, which is for drying — applies here. After you've reapplied sunscreen, eaten something messy, or gotten yourself extra sandy for whatever reason, you're going to want to use a towel to dry or de-sand yourself, as the case may be.
And you don't want to use your primary beach towel for this job. That towel needs to stray as dry and sand-free as possible, the better to dry you off (without getting extra beach detritus on you) when you emerge from the sea.
Instead, for run-of-the-mill cleanup, hand-wiping, etc., break out that tiny little workhorse of a hand towel, and spare the rest of your stuff in the process. It'll barely take up any room in your beach bag, but it'll make the entire day better. Or at least, somewhat less gross.