What’s in my summer bag

It’s summer! Summer! My favorite time of the year! A time to dream of the beach, get to the beach, swim in the ocean, and everything else that comes after ๐Ÿ˜€ As a proud veteran of 6+ years of island living, I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the art of packing for the beach ๐Ÿ™‚ So here goes: what’s in my (waterproof) gear bag for Summer 2014!

Clockwise from top left:

theislandergirl gearbag_small

Dry Pak waterproof pouch – essential for all electronics. The pouch is padded so it floats when dropped in the water (awesome!). The yellow sealing clip makes it easy to spot too. Comes with a lanyard and a carabiner. You can still use your phone through the pouch (only a very slight muffling of the sound) though using a touchscreen takes some practice. Good thing I use a Blackberry Q10 then ๐Ÿ˜›

Aquazorb travel towel – superior water-absorbing capabilities at the fraction of the weight of a regular terrycloth towel

Panasonic Lumix TS4 camera – 12 megapixels, waterproof up to 12 meters, shockproof up to 5 feet, and dustproof. Easy to use too. The default “Underwater” white balance setting is excellent in shallow water though it does lose something as you go deeper. But since I use this mainly for beach and snorkeling photos versus a Canon S95 with Ikelite underwater housing for diving photos, it’s all good. This camera has seen action in Orlando, El Nido, Leyte, and La Union. And remember the #1 rule of traveling: take only pictures! ๐Ÿ˜€

VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Sport 70 sunblock – the best sunscreen you’ll ever use. Excellent protection from UVA and UVB rays, easy to apply, absorbs easily into the skin, no greasy feeling afterwards, and no smell so you can also apply it to your face. I’ve used this for the past 5 years and have no regrets.

VMV Hypoallergenics Essence Skin-Saving Milk Conditioner – something for after the beach. I have sensitive skin so I can’t use just any shampoo or conditioner since whatever I apply to my hair will eventually end up on my face as it washes off when I shower. I love this conditioner because it makes my hair all smooth and shiny and doesn’t cause my face to break out.

O’Neill Superkini – my favorite bikini ever. I have this one plus another Superkini in teal. It’s made of Nanofront fabric that develops 200% more grip between the suit and your skin when wet. Read my full review.

Rusty boardshorts – top tip: shop for boardshorts in SM’s Surplus Shop. They stock brands like Roxy, Volcom, O’Neill, and Rusty but selling at much lower prices compared to other retailers.

Not included in the photo are my Fluidsurf rashguards (Filipino brand, great quality, good price compared to rashguards from Billabong and Roxy) and Flopeds filpflops (the best flipflops ever IMHO).

I brought all the gear described to San Juan, La Union last April and they worked perfectly. I’ll also be bringing the same gear to El Nido and Sagay, Negros Oriental in June when I help MSI in the training of DENR personnel. Yay for thorough field testing ๐Ÿ˜€

The O’Neill Superkini – the island girl’s best friend

I stumbled upon the O’Neill Superkiniย when I was browsing through the main R.O.X. branch in Bonifacio High Street. I knew I wanted a new swimsuit – just “wanted” because my trusty Speedo suit was still in excellent shape and didn’t need replacing – but didn’t have anything in particular in mind. There I was, walking among the racks of suits and idly pulling out the ones that caught my eye when I spotted a small sign in the O’Neill section that just said “Introducing the Superkini”. Okay, catchy name that one. Checked out the information tag. Non-slip Nanofront fabric that develops 200% more grip between your skin and the suit when wet compared to ordinary Lycra? Sold! Well, not quite that fast. I Googled and looked it up (never heard of it before!) and boom! I wanted the Superkini. I wanted it so much that I ended up getting two of them – black and striped one from the O’Neill online shop (it was on sale and my balikbayan aunt and uncle brought it home for me) and the teal one from R.O.X.

superkini flat

The verdict after more than a year of swimming, snorkeling, diving, and surfing? The O’Neill Superkini is officially the Islander Girl’s best friend.

macy1_edited
Loving my Superkini!

Okay, so I only had my first-ever surfing lessons last weekend in La Union (which deserves its own blog post!) but I did swim and snorkel regularly in El Nido and El Nido’s waves can get a bit rough at times.ย I’ve also been the unfortunate victim of a bikini top that slid up when I jumped in the water. I tested the Superkini by doing what their models did – I jumped in and the suit stayed put! Huzzah! I’ve also tested it by swimming straight into incoming waves and feeling them crash over me. The Superkini felt so comfortable and so lightweight – like a second skin even – that during its first field test, my frantic brain insisted that I peek every five minutes to check if the suit was still there. Ironic that a suit that was designed to give me piece of mind made me even more anxious because it worked too well ๐Ÿ˜› Luckily, my brain quieted down after the first few field tests as the suit proved itself. I also wore it when I went surfing but can’t say how it fared because I covered it with a rash guard to protect against myself against scratches.

superkini hanging to dry
Hanging out to dry

The only downside I can think of is the price. It’s definitely more expensive compared to other bikinis, as it’s easily about twice what a non-branded bikini would cost. I had no guilty feelings about the black suit because I got it during the O’Neill clearance sale. In comparison, I turned away when the ROX cashier swiped my credit card to pay for the teal suit. I kept telling myself that these will be my bikinis for at least the next three years. Based on the minimal wear and tear even after sitting on a banca, there’s a good chance that this will be true.

The verdict? The O’Neill Superkini is my favorite bikini and it’s absolutely worth the price I paid for it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to switch to a different one. Incidentally, the black design is part of the 2012 collection (hence why it was on sale) so I’m not sure if it’s still available. Call me picky, but I didn’t like the 2013 prints. The 2014 print is a nice combination of purple and pink and looks cute.