Looking for new ways to make your family’s beach days more fun and convenient? Look no further than the Surf Expo, the premier watersports and coastal lifestyle trade show in the world.

Remember when a beach day meant listening to the sound of the surf while lying on a fresh beach towel and sipping your favorite adult beverage while reading your favorite book? 

Yeah, me neither. That was a long time ago for us moms, right? 

Nowadays our beach days are filled with sandy swimsuits, tears about sand or salt in the eyes, and uncomfortable walks while hauling lots and lots of beach toys across hot sand. 

I figure there has to be a better way. 

Then I found out one of the surf industry’s biggest trade shows happens here in Orlando. The Surf Expo is an industry insider show where manufacturers show off their latest and greatest to retail buyers. It is not open to the public, but I wanted you all to get a sneak peek. 

Mostly, I wanted to see what kind of game-changer sun, swim, and surf products might be out there for families. Here’s what I found: 

Surf Expo Star: A mom who wanted more stylish life vest options for her kids 

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I met Amanda Horan, the co-founder of a small family-owned brand called Line + Cleat. Her stylish line of children’s life jackets and UPF wear looks perfect for a day on the boat. I love their modern designs and choice of colors.

Amanda, being a mom herself, knew her life jackets had to be safe! That’s why she made sure her line is U.S. Coast Guard approved as Personal Flotation Devices (PFD). They start with an infant-sized life jacket for 0-30 lbs and go up to a toddler size that fits 30-50 lbs. She hinted that bigger sizes may be coming soon. 

An inflatable pool pony to get you kickin’ in the water

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Two ladies sitting under a big umbrella drew me into their booth to check out the bright yellow Pool Pony. They told me this toy has been popular in Australia for a while now, but is new to the U.S. I have a couple of samples that I haven’t had a chance to test out yet, but it honestly looks like a blast!

Don’t expect this to be a lazy day pool float though. Part of the fun and challenge is that you have to balance yourself to keep it right side up. It can make for a hilarious game of pool basketball or a water relay race. It’d be perfect for teenagers who like to roughhouse in the water. 

A Surf Expo participant that wants to do better with trash bags 

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When I saw the Trshbg, I knew I needed to hear the story behind it. The women who created the product are actually SCUBA divers who run an organization in South Florida called the Trashy Girls Collective. They’re on a mission to clean up the waters by collecting trash from the waterways during their dives.

As you can imagine, it isn’t exactly easy to swim with a trash bag, so they need a place to pack out the human garbage they come across in the water. That’s why they created the Trshbg. It comes in three sizes: one that sits on your waist, a small one for the ankle, or a big beach bag-sized tote for larger cleanups. These aren’t just for divers. They’re for anyone to use while they help keep our beaches and waterways cleaner. 

A towel and tote bag all-in-one 

Towel Tote - Surf Expo
Photo from: Towel Tote

The Towel Tote is exactly what it sounds like! It’s a beach bag and towel combo designed to simplify your day at the beach. The towel unrolls from its pouch so you can lay out on it. Whenever you’re done relaxing, you just roll the towel back into the bag. There’s also a water-resistant outer pouch to store sunscreen, snacks, and whatever else you may need. I met the inventor, Jordan. He says he created it with convenience in mind. I cannot wait to see these in stores! 

Shorts that will save Dad’s phone if he falls into the water

Dry Pocket Apparel - Surf Expo

Check these out! These swim and adventure shorts from Dry Pocket Apparel have a waterproof pouch built into the shorts. If you know the type of guy who accidentally gets into the water with his phone or keys in his pocket, these are made for him! Perfect for dads or teenage sons!

I met the guys behind the brand. They’re from Florida, so you know they know a thing or two about soaking rains, accidental overboards, and pool party mistakes. They promise the seal on the waterproof pocket is as good as any other drybag at protecting your items! They also have a really awesome-looking backpack cooler that floats and a few other items.

Right now, the shorts only come in men’s styles. But the brand tells me that a women’s line is coming soon. 

Stylish “pearls” to cool you down on a hot day 

Hot Girl Pearls - Surf Expo

I hate looking like a sweaty mess. I’m a mom who lives in Florida, so I look like a sweaty swamp monster A LOT! I’ve been following Hot Girl Pearls for a while now, so I was happy to finally get the brand’s line of freezable cooling jewelry. I imagine pulling these out of the cooler during my kids’ outdoor activities just as I start to feel the makeup melt on my face. Putting them around your neck provides instant relief from the heat. And this is sooo much more stylish than walking around with a cold, wet washcloth on your face. 

A more fashionable way to carry your water bottle

WanderFull - Surf Expo

One of my colleagues raves about the WanderFull HydroBags. It’s a fashionable crossbody bag designed to hold a water bottle. While it works great for all kinds of women, I imagine it would be extra perfect for a toddler mom whose hands are always full. Hey, it’s important to hydrate! The HydroBags also have a pocket for storing your phone, keys, and wallet. The company has expanded to carry all kinds of styles — including their larger HydroDoubles, the HydroBeltbag, a hobo bag, and more!

Loads of stuff that reminds me of the 90s! 

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I saw a lot of ’90s-inspired products at the Surf Expo. (Remember THESE Rocket Dog platform sandals? Yeah. They are back!) But of all of the retro-inspired products at the show this year, I really enjoyed the Impala Skate booth. They had these bright yellow Barbie inline skates and pads that I thought would look super fun at the beach or in the neighborhood. They had some fun skateboard designs on display as well. 

So many innovations in sun protection 

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It’s a Surf Expo, so of course several sunscreen brands had their newest products on display. Personally, I like supporting smaller brands and I look for products that are mineral-based with reef-friendly ingredients. CōTZ gave me a sample of their products. I really like the tinted sunscreen. It didn’t feel greasy or cakey at all. 

I also got to try some of the sunscreen sprays from Seaweed Bath Co. I really like the convenience of their mineral spray. You’ll find me chasing down my kids to reapply as they run away from me. It’s just an easy, hands-off way to apply sun protection! They offer other skin and body products as well. 

The most clever way to snorkel that I’ve ever seen 

Snorkelboard - Surf Expo

I think a lot of people don’t realize just how much effort it takes to snorkel. That’s why I instantly smiled when I saw the Snorkelboard at the Surf Expo. The concept here is basically a bodyboard with a built-in snorkel mask. It makes it easy to watch the fish and reef life without accidentally stepping on delicate coral or getting tired too fast. For this reason, I think it would work really well for kids. I also imagine this would be a great way to safely view the manatees since we’re coming up on manatee season. 

An easy way for the doggo to get back on the boat

Paradise Pad - Surf Expo

My dog doesn’t know how to climb a ladder to get back on a boat. We have to pick him up and practically drag him out of the water, which leaves us all scratched up because he totally freaks out about it. I’m sure I’m not alone in that experience, so that’s why I really liked seeing this innovation from Paradise Pad. The inflatable dog ramp gives your dog a place to float and easily climb back on board. They have lounge and watersports products for humans too, but this particular pet product caught my attention as a great problem solver.

Perfume made from actual seawater

True Ocean - Surf Expo

If my husband is reading this article ::hint hint:: think about this for Christmas. I was standing at the True Ocean booth checking out the products they had on display, not even realizing what I was sniffing! They use seawater in their fragrances and, man, their scents will take you right to the beach! It doesn’t have that fake “tourist special” scent as I call it — you know what I mean. That super fake “tropical” aroma that seems to fill every tourist beach town in Florida.

This product puts out a natural, breezy vibe, one that lets you hear the seagulls if you listen real closely. Using real seawater has some other benefits aside from the scent — it provides a mineral boost that is known to refresh and rejuvenate. In addition to the Eau De Parfum, they also produce body spray, pillow mist, candles, scrubs, soaps, and other body care goodies.

Magical T-shirts that change color in the sun

Magic T-Shirts - Surf Expo

I can’t imagine a child who wouldn’t think these T-shirts are cool. Magic T-shirts start out black and white indoors, but they have a type of UV ink technology that makes them turn colorful when you walk outside into the sunshine. They had a whole wall of fun designs on display at the surf expo.

I don’t understand why we don’t see these all over the place, because they’re really cool. On top of that, the company is from Fort Myers, which is where I grew up, so these shirts seem extra special to me. 

The coolest games, puzzles, and gifts 

Surf Expo

The Surf Expo caters to retailers who have gift shops. So, in addition to all kinds of surf and water-related products, I also got to check out a lot of home decor and “giftable” products. That’s where these cool maps from Woodchart come in. They make nautical wooden maps.

Puzzles are always a great pastime for families and they make great family gifts. Here are a few pictures of some of the other giftable products I saw at the show. 

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Many companies with a mission to make the world better

Surf Expo

One of my favorite mission-driven brands that I met during the show is Colors for Good. The brand’s founder told me that they create social impact by empowering the women who make the bracelets in Mexico. They also give back to projects that support making the world a better place. The bracelets are cute, too — which helps! 

A mom who wrote a book about saving Florida’s wildlife

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Education is key to preservation. That was the thought behind the Turtle Tracks children’s book series. The author and illustrator, Sue Trew, creates beautiful stories of animals on adventures to teach children about the different types of wildlife that live in Carribean environments. There are plush stuffies to go along with each book. Stories include Turtle Tracks, Calypso Conch, Manatee Magic, Gecko Getaway, and many others in this colorful series. 

Perfect bags for adventurous girls


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#momlife is basically #baglife. I’m always carrying around different totes, duffels, and backpacks for various kid and family activities. I like these colorful bags from Girlie Girl Originals. Not only do they seem sturdy, but they’ll keep you organized because the activity they’re for is printed right on the bag! 

An easy way to carry your tumbler 

Surf Expo

So, earlier I told you about the cute bag for your water bottle. Now check out this handle for your tumbler! Muggiez was invented a few years back by a guy in Texas (I met his friend at the show who was manning this booth). It’s definitely one of those brilliant “why didn’t I think of that” type of products — essentially two bungee cords connected to a handle. It wraps around any size beverage from a can of soda to a giant tumbler, so you’ll always have a handle and never spill. It’s Made in America, too. 

By the way, there were A LOT of cool beverage bottles and tumblers at the show. I even saw one that had a speaker built into the bottom of it. I didn’t take pictures of all of them, but it was pretty neat.   

I’m barely sharing all the cool items I saw at the show. I love all of the creativity and ingenuity in product design. Some of these products are just now starting to get into retailers and some of them are already available online. I don’t get anything back if you purchase from them — as in I’m not an ambassador or anything — but do let us know if you buy something from this list. I’d like to hear how it works out for you!


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