What’s in your cooler?

Vineyard beachgoers share their favorite fun-in-the-sun staples. 


They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but it’s what’s stashed away inside that really makes a beach day.

Whether it’s a crisp new Yeti, or a beat-up old Igloo that’s seen more than its share of days at Norton Point, choosing the right goodies to put in your beach cooler is an important part of any sunny day getaway.

The role of cooler curator has been coveted ever since the dawn of beach excursions, and with so many different snack and drink paths to go down, sometimes the selection process can be daunting.

But folks on-Island know how to pack a cooler — a sensible skill to have when anywhere you live is little more than 10 minutes from the ocean. 

The Local set out to several Vineyard beaches on scattered days to ask folks, “What’s in your cooler?” in hopes of finding the most outstanding cooler comestibles and icebox beverages.

On a calm afternoon at State Beach, Drew Honeycutt and Taylor Gramkowski were preparing to pack up shop after a relaxing beach outing.

Honeycutt said his parents live on the Island, and State Beach is one spot he frequents when he visits, although it was only his second time there this season.

The two had just finished up some homemade sub sandwiches, but their cooler was still filled with Ruffles, French onion dip to pair with the salty chips, and a Crunch bar to take care of those sweet cravings after a long day listening to the lapping waves.

A little ways down the beach, Kate Goldberg sat with her family and watched her children bounce in and out of the water in their bright patterned floaties. 

“This is the first time we’ve come to the Vineyard in a while. We have a family trip, so we are here for the week,” Goldberg said, “We were here at the beach yesterday and today — State Beach was recommended to us by another family member.”

No doubt the jewel of Goldberg’s cooler was a container of Grillo’s Pickles out of Needham, Mass., but the family had all their bases covered for their day at the beach.

“We are huge fans of Grillo’s, of course. We’re from Needham, so they’re a local buy for us,” Goldberg said.

The family also had ham-and-cheese sandwiches they made at home, some string cheese for the kiddos, and some Starbucks coffee drinks for added energy toward the end of the afternoon.

“We don’t usually drink those, but it’s vacation, so why not,” Goldberg laughed.

Just before the terns began to dive for their evening meal, and the sun started to sink below Sengekontacket Pond, two sisters sat and soaked up the last bit of Vitamin D for the day.

One of the sisters, Simone, said she has a house here but is visiting her sister, who lives in Edgartown.

“It’s sister day,” Simone said, “so we are meeting up late in the afternoon to catch up. We did errands all morning, so now it’s fun, drinks, and snacks at the beach.”

Simone added that her son also lives on the Island, and he entertained her at his home the prior weekend with some drinks and food. 

“I grabbed a couple Coronas for later,” Simone laughed. “I also took some water bottles with me, because you have to stay hydrated at the beach.”

As folks strode by on the way to their cars, Simone commented on the pleasant conditions that they happened upon for their beach get-together.

“State Beach is such a beautiful spot. It’s really simple to find parking, easy walk on, and easy walk off. A little waves, plenty of people watching, and you’ve got yourself a beach day,” she said.

Simone’s sister, who preferred to remain anonymous, said she went with the “hydration theme” for her cooler selection, with some Bubly sparkling water, a Synergy kombucha drink for some healthy probiotics, and a couple of High Noon hard seltzers (please beach responsibly).

At South Beach on a particularly beautiful but blustery afternoon, another anonymous beachgoer from Newport, RI, was kicking back underneath his beach tent sipping on some adult beverages and snacking on some tasty homemade tapenades when The Local asked him “What’s in your cooler?”

He held up a box of pub crackers, and then brought out what might take the podium in the snack category of the cooler competition — homemade olive tapenade and spicy jalapeno dip.

“I make it all myself, besides the crackers,” he laughed. “You could call it a hobby, but I really just think they taste better than the ones you buy in the store, and they’re not too tough to throw together.” 

Down on South Beach on the right fork side, Greg Whitaker reclined in a chaise lounge next to his wife as they watched their kids dance along the shoreline while dodging the crashing beach break. 

He munched on some honey roasted peanuts while sipping a classic Pepsi. When asked whether he is team Coke or team Pepsi, he said he is a “die-hard Pepsi fan,” although he won’t pass over another soda or sweet soft drink.

“Coke is a close second,” he said.

Whitaker said his family lives in New Hampshire, and it’s their first time visiting the Island.

“There aren’t many beaches up there, and I’ve never even been to a beach like this,” he said. “I’m amazed at how clean it is here. It’s a great place to bring my family and just unwind. We are only here for the weekend, but it’s been such a great time — I’m confident we’ll be back soon, and we are definitely bringing the cooler.”