Our favorite beach apps

Sure, you wish you could leave your phone at home when it’s time to soak up the rays on the beach, but why would you when these beach-going apps make your life so much easier?

Surfline: A ton of surfing apps are available, but Surfline is one of the best because the organization has been delivering extensive weather and wave reports since 1985, and the app is useful even if you're not a surfer. You can use it for real-time weather forecasts, to view more than 300 HD beach cameras and to read updates from users all over the globe about surf conditions. Surfline also posts surf and ocean news, videos and photos for its users, and you can personalize it by saving and organizing your favorite surf cams and swell forecasts in one place. surfline.com

PassportParking: A few of California's beaches have teamed up with PassportParking to make paying for parking with your mobile phone easy. After you register, you can pay by voice or by text. Portions of Huntington State Beach, Calafia Beach in San Clemente and Bolsa Chica State Beach use the app, which allows visitors to receive text message alerts and reminders before their parking expires. You can add time to your meter from the comfort of your beach towel instead of racing back to avoid getting a ticket. passportparking.com

The Swim Guide: How do you know the beach you want to go to is clean and swimmable? Check the Swim Guide app, which has information on beaches from New Zealand to Canada to Mexico and, of course, the United States. Each is marked with a green or red icon to signify clean or poor water quality. It will tell you the beach's water-quality history, and a time stamp gives you information on when a beach status was updated. And, if you're the kind who likes checking sources, it will even tell you who samples the water at each beach and what water-quality standards apply. theswimguide.org

Clean Swell: This app helps you keep beaches, waterways and the ocean trash-free. Use it to record each item of trash you collect, then share your effort with friends. It keeps a history of your cleanup work and tracks the total distance you've cleaned. And when you "Start Collecting" anywhere in the world, your data will upload to Ocean Conservancy's global ocean trash database. This data gives researchers and policy makers insight so they can create solutions on a larger scale. Lastly, you'll learn scientific facts about how trash impacts ocean life and ways in which you can help. oceanconservancy.org

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