Headed off on an exciting beach vacation? Let go of your beach packing list stress by reading this beach packing list before you go. We have listed our top must-have beach essentials and some fun extras if you have the room to pack them.
Packing ahead of time will ensure you don’t forget items and that you will save money. Most must-have beach items cost more money on location than what you would pay for them at home.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, and refine your list of beach items so you are prepared for every activity you want to do on your beach vacation. Here is our must-have list of the beach!
Beach Essentials & Ultimate Beach Packing List
Skin cancer is a real threat, and any great beach vacation can be ruined by a bad sunburn on your first day. This is why sunscreen is the ultimate in beach essentials.
We recommend packing your favorite sunscreen before leaving the house as you’ll pay high prices for sunscreen once you’re at your beach destination.
We highly recommend bringing sunscreen you are familiar with. There is nothing worse than buying a sunscreen for a trip just to find out you don’t like the scent or feel of it.
Another tip, look for an eco-friendly sunscreen like REN Clean Screen SPF 30 sunscreen, that does not contain harmful chemicals. They are mineral-based and help protect our oceans.
2. UPF Clothing
In addition to bringing sunscreen, you should also pack some lightweight UPF clothing. UPF clothing has built-in sun protection in the fabric.
If you are a person who hates applying sunscreen repeatedly throughout the day then UPF clothing is definitely for you!
Thanks to the rise in skin cancer awareness, there is a variety of stylish UPF clothing available for both men and women. Coolibar makes a great selection of clothing items for men and women.
3. Rash Guard
If you plan on spending a large amount of your beach vacation doing any surfing, snorkeling, or diving, you won’t need a full wetsuit but you should consider adding a rashguard to your beach packing list.
A rashguard not only protects you from skin rashes, but also keeps you warm, and contains UPF which protects from the sun.
For women, I really like O’Neill’s UV Sun Protection Long Sleeve rash guard. It offers UPF 50 sun protection and comes in a variety of colors for everyone’s needs.
For men, Dave likes the Columbia Men’s Terminal Deflector Long Sleeve rash guard. Columbia’s UPF 50 Omni-Shade blocks UVA and UVB rays to help prevent sunburns and long-term skin damage.
4. Sun Hat
When packing for your beach vacation do not forget that you should have something to protect your head, ears, and neck such as a good beach hat.
Buy a hat with at least a 3-inch brim, like the Columbia Unisex Bora Bora II Booney Hat, to provide ear and neck coverage.
Your ears and neck are the most commonly forgotten areas when it comes to applying sunscreen, so save yourself some time and a painful sunburn by bringing a sunhat with.
Just like a beach towel or monkey mat is a must-have, so is an umbrella if your luggage has enough room.
Even when you want to get some sun, it is always nice to have an area of shade to sit under when you need it without having to leave the beach. This is one of our beach packing list staples.
Sunglasses are equally as important for your eyes as sunscreen is for your body. There is a wide variety of sunglass brands that provide UV protection in their lenses but our favorite brand is Oakley.
They offer a wide range of men’s and women’s styles with many different designs.
Another great feature to look for in sunglasses is polarized lenses. This helps to cut and reduce glare making your vision in the daylight much more clear.
However, polarization does not provide any extra UV protection so make sure, first and foremost, that your sunglasses have UV protection.
Sun protection is a given in regards to your body, but protecting your lips is equally as important. Your lips are very sensitive and it’s a common area to receive a burn.
Make sure to bring some sun-protective lip balm for your lips when you are putting together your beach packing list. There is nothing worse than getting to the beach and not having it!
Beach Essential Clothing
8. Bathing suit
Heading on a beach vacation undoubtedly means you will need to add a swimsuit (or two!) to your beach packing list. We always bring two swimsuits each with us so there is always one dry suit to put on.
Ladies, if you’re planning on being quite active on the beach and in the water you may want to opt for a supportive one-piece swimsuit.
For men, I would say one to two is a good number of swim shorts to travel to the beach as well.
Look for shorts that are lightweight and built for surfing, so they stretch and move with the body. Also, try to stick with dark colors as they will hold up longer in the sun, sand, and sea.
With all the time you will be spending going in and out of the water, a great pair of sandals is one of the top beach essentials for any warm weather vacation.
If your beach vacation will include some hiking or walking in the water, choose a good waterproof sandal such as the Merrell Women’s Jacardia Sandal and the Teva Men’s Katavi Sandal are great multi-use sandals that we love!
10. Tank Tops
Lightweight breathable tank tops are a great versatile clothing option for men and women traveling to beach destinations. They are great for layering under nicer tops or for wearing by themselves.
Even though they don’t cover a lot of skin, opt for a UPF tank top, like this Coolibar UPF 50+ Women’s Basic Tank or Men’s Dri Fit UPF50+ Tank Top, for a little extra sun protection on your midsection.
As with tank tops, shorts are a great beach going item for every traveler. We recommend buying lightweight, breathable, flexible and lightly colored shorts to help keep you cool even on the hottest days.
Another great bonus to lightweight flexible shorts is that if you get them wet they will still be quite comfortable and will dry quickly.
Great beach shorts we love are Women’s Amazon Essentials drawstring linen short and Men’s Amazon Essentials Classic-Fit Short. Both of these shorts are nice enough to wear out to dinner but comfy enough for all-day wear as well.
They have several pockets, are very lightweight and offer multiple color options.
12. Beach Cover-Up
A cover-up is one of those beach vacation clothes you should always have in your luggage. When checking your beach packing list for a day in the sun, make sure you don’t forget one.
Not only can you choose from a variety of cute styles, like the Coolibar UPF 50 Catalina beach cover-up, but many establishments don’t allow beachgoers to wear just a swimsuit, so this is where the cover-up is essential.
13. Comfy Pants
Comfy pants are a great clothing addition for late afternoon and evenings when the sun goes down and the weather starts to cool. We both like linen pants since they are lightweight and very comfortable.
Some great choices for linen pants are Roxy Women’s Oceanside Pant and Men’s Casual Linen Beach Trousers. These two options are very comfortable, come in many colors, and are a great price!
14. Warm Top
Packing a warm top is solely dependent on what the weather will be like at night at your beach destination.
For those heading to the beach in colder climates or coastlines like the East or West, you may want to pack something a little warmer for those cooler nights.
We both really love fleece pullovers for those breezy beach nights and always pack these two by Eddie Bauer: Women’s Brushed Fleece Hooded Pullover and Men’s Cloud Layer Pro 1/4 Zip Pullover.
15. A good book or E-Reader
No beach vacation is complete without a good book to dive into. Whether you are an e-reader person or still love the feel of a real book, be sure to pack/download your favorite books for your vacation.
There are several e-readers available now, but a favorite of ours is the Kindle Paperwhite, simply because the battery life is 8 weeks and the newest version is waterproof.
A GoPro is one of the best cameras for the beach and the activities you will likely be doing while there. The new GoPro Hero 8 is waterproof down to 30 ft. Needless to say this comes is one of your beach essentials.
Looking for some great accessories? Before you go, read this The Best GoPro Accessories for Adventure Travelers. Our top purchase recommendations are a shorty grip and a dome port!
Read more How to Decide Which GoPro to Buy
17. Power Bank
Worried about your phone running out of battery while you are out exploring? Don’t leave home without packing a rechargeable power bank.
Purchase one with at least 10,000 mAh to ensure you can get a full charge or two throughout the day if needed.
If you know you will be spending your days on the beach in full sun, you can also purchase a solar power bank, which will use the sun’s rays to keep the power bank charged for when you need it.
18. Portable Waterproof Speaker
This all depends on what the atmosphere will be like on the beach, of course, but a portable Bluetooth speaker is great to have when you’re in a group.
Traveling with a small speaker is convenient and it takes up very little space. Just think twice about what your beach situation will be before packing it, nobody likes loud music blaring on a quiet serene beach.
One of my favorite things to do on the beach is to plug into my favorite playlist and relax while lying on the beach.
Of course, headphones are an essential part of this plan and therefore you should make sure you have a great comfy pair you won’t mind wearing in the hot sun during the day.
Beach Packing List Necessities
20. Goggles, Snorkel & Fins
If you’re into snorkeling, then pick up some fins, a mask, and snorkel, so you don’t get stuck paying to rent them once you arrive.
We both like Aqualung masks and which can be used for snorkeling and diving. Alternatively, if you’re staying at a resort or hotel while on your beach vacation, check to see if they offer equipment rental for free.
21. Beach Towel or Monkey Mat
One of the most important beach essentials you can put on your list is a towel. Everyone needs a good beach towel to dry off after a swim or lay down in the sand.
Monkey mats are specifically made for outdoor activities and have four weighted corners to keep the mat down and in place on the sand while in use. They come in multiple sizes and colors for everyone’s needs.
22. Water Bottle
Traveling to the beach with fresh water in hand is important as it is easy to get dehydrated in the sun on the beach.
We like to use insulated stainless steel water bottles at the beach because they are well insulated and great for the environment. A favorite water bottle of ours is the Camelbak Chute.
23. Dry Bag
We always travel with a dry bag whether or no matter where we are traveling.
They pack up easily and are lightweight so there really is no reason not to have one. They are great for protecting your belongings from the water and sand.
If you like to bring camera gear on vacation, this is one of those beach essentials that you won’t be able to live without.
Read more Best Dry Bag For your Next Adventure
24. Beach Blanket
Another great option is to pack a beach blanket. A great multi-use blanket is the Wellax Sand Free Beach Blanket.
At 9’ x 10’ your whole family or friends can take advantage and chill on this amazingly soft and HUGE blanket!
The best part: it collapses to 4” x 8”. The integrated storage sack makes it so EASY to store and carry around!
25. Beach Hammock
Travel hammocks are an awesome addition to your packing list for a beach vacation. They offer the perfect way to relax in the shade under two palm trees. We love this ENO portable Hammock for two.
This design is versatile, durable, and compact, making it perfect for camping, hiking, or lounging around with a friend.
Weighing in at only 19 ounces, this hammock stuffs easily into the attached storage bag taking up very little room in your luggage.
26. Insulated Tote
For any day trip to the beach, you’re going to want some cold drinks. After we throw our bathing suits on it’s the first thing we pack up.
Traditional coolers are heavy and a pain on the beach so we use a portable travel cooler.
Not only does it make the list of beach essentials, but if you like spending time in the outdoors it can be reused on other trips.
A portable cooler is an especially great investment if you like to go camping, canoeing, or just lounging at the park. Make sure to buy one that is durable, waterproof, and comfortable to carry.
27. Reusable Plastic Bags
It may seem like an obscure item, but reusable plastic bags come in handy on the beach. If you are changing at the beach they make for great storage of a wet swimsuit.
They are also a cheap way to protect items you don’t want getting full of sand and water.
Note: Please make sure you pack out what you pack in, reuse your plastic bags for feature adventures.
Beach Items for Family Vacation
28. Beach Tent
Beach tents are great for those that want to enjoy the beach, yet stay out of the sun at the same time! It’s also very important to protect young children and babies from sun damage.
The added layer of protection from the wind and sand is also nice on those windy days. Plus if you need to change your kid’s clothes at the beach it provides an added layer of privacy.
29. Sun Protective Bathing Suits
I swear by rash guards because they protect backs and shoulders—prime real estate for sunburns—without having to reapply sunscreen all day, which is a definite plus when you are worried about little ones.
Swim shorts help, too, for boys of course, and for girls as long as they’ll wear them. UVSkinz is a great kids brand because they have built-in UV protection and offer several different styles of boys and girls suits.
Tuga swimwear is also great for the tiny travelers since they offer an abundance of colorful prints to choose from. Sure to please any kiddo your buying for.
Packing snacks is a smart thing to do for any beach vacation. Snacks and meals can be quite expensive, especially when located right on the water. Bring non-perishable type items for easy storage in your day bag.
31. First Aid Kit
When traveling with littles it is always a good idea to bring a small first aid kit. Just pack the essentials for minor cuts and scrapes and a basic medicine kit in case they get sick while you’re on vacation.
But who’s kidding who here? Even if you’re not traveling with kids, a first aid kit is one of those beach essentials you should pack regardless.
32. Beach Toys
If you’re heading to the beach with some little ones then bringing along a few beach toys and beach balls never hurt. You can never go wrong with a set to build some sandcastles.
Sometimes it’s worth considering if you want pails and shovels that are cheap enough to leave behind when vacation is over. But some sand toys, the ones that nest for easy packing or a few toys in one, are worth hanging on to.
A great option is Eduplay nesting soft buckets. Pair them with the Triplet digging tool and you’re set, with plenty of room in your tote for a book, snacks, and water.
Floaties are great items for ensuring some safety and entertainment for your littles while playing the water. There are several different kinds depending on the age and weight of your child.
This is a really great floatie/swim trainer for any young kids that need some extra support. It wraps around the waist and has attached arm floaties.
34. Games (Deck of Cards)
Depending on the age of your children, it may be a great idea to have some games to play during the downtime when they need a little entertaining.
I have been on countless trips and never leave without my UNO cards. They make my beach essentials packing list every single time.
35. Disposable Wipes
Always a great item to have on you for a beach trip. Odds are you will be eating some snacks while out on the beach and this way you can wipe your hands down before eating.
Another plus to packing disposable wipes they can double as toilet paper if those beach toilets run out.
36. Baby Powder
Baby powder is a beach essential because it’s brilliant for getting sand out of all those areas where kids inevitably get sand.
A great refillable baby powder-like Powder Pouch, lets you de-sand hands before lunch and de-sand feet at the end of the day, without baby powder going all over.
The best part, it’s small enough that you don’t mind one more thing in your tote bag.
37. Tote Bag
The kind of your beach essentials list is the beach bag. Besides, you’re going to need somewhere to put all this stuff you’re bringing!
The ideal beach bag is mesh so that you’re more likely to leave water and sand behind. Make sure it’s sturdy, roomy, has lots of handy pockets, and folds up nicely in your suitcase.
38. Family Size Beach blanket
A great child-friendly beach blanket is a necessity for any family vacation. This JJ Cole outdoor blanket takes up a little bit of room in the suitcase, but it’s water-resistant, easy to clean and folds up pretty compactly (for a blanket). Plus, the fun patterns will keep non-walkers entertained.
We hope you have found everything you were looking for and maybe even some new ideas to help make your beach vacation stress free and fun!
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