I make a point of wiping all exposed parts of my camera gear with a silicone-infused gun and reel cloth after any exposure to a salt environment. Look for one in the gun cleaning supplies section of a big sporting goods store. This provides some small measure of cleaning and protection to the most exposed surfaces. (Makes the gear look nice and spiffy, too!)
I usually have a yellow or other filter on the lens when working at the coast, so salty mist on the lens elements is not a big concern. I do clean the lens carefully if I've been working without the filter. Just breathe on the front element after a walk on the beach, and you'll see tiny spots of dried moisture. I breathe on it again and wipe it clean. As someone said in a previous post, sand is the real danger.