Last Updated on January 9, 2021 by Anisa
As you have probably realized by now, I do really enjoy beach destinations. I love going to the Caribbean, Florida, or even beaches close to New York City. I never feel like I can get enough time at the beach though, but I think the secret is to be prepared. With my complete packing list for the beach, I can make sure I get the most of my beach time!
If like me, you enjoy your beach time, then this list may give you some ideas to make your beach day even better. This beach trip packing list contains a variety of essential things to take to the beach along with some fun items that you might enjoy. I think you will find this beach vacation checklist helpful whether you are going to the beach for a day or it’s a week long beach vacation. Click here to get your printable beach packing list.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. See Disclosure below for more information.
The Beach Vacation Essentials
My list of beach items starts with what you need for your day in the sun. Some of these items may already be available at the beach, so you may not need to pack them. For example, if you are going to the beach at your hotel, there may be lounge chairs to use, so you would not need to include a chair on your beach packing list. Also, if you are flying to the beach destination, check the baggage rules for the airline you are flying. Then, adjust your packing for the beach to make sure you comply with those rules and don’t incur any unnecessary fees.
Make sure these essentials are covered on your packing list for your beach vacation. Some could also make a nice gift for that beach lover in your life.
With the ozone layer deteriorating, everyone should be wearing sunscreen every day, but especially on beach days. There are a lot of different options when it comes to sunscreen. Ideally, I like one for my face, a lotion for my body, and then a spray to reapply. The spray is much easier to apply but it is also easier to miss a spot. I use SPF 45 for my body and SPF 70 for my face. If you are not sure what SPF to use, ask your dermatologist.
Unfortunately, sunscreen does count as a liquid, so if you are flying you will either want to get a travel size version, check your bag, or buy it there. If you can, please try to look for a sunscreen that is “reef friendly” like this Reef Safe one. Click here to check out the sunscreen options available on Amazon
You may also want to bring a 30 SPF chapstick to protect your lips and a special spray for your scalp like this. Just in case you get sunburned, put some some aloe vera gel on your beach bag list too.
I like to put several towels on my beach day packing list! One to lay on, one to fold up and use as a pillow, and one to use to dry off. If you prefer you could also use a beach blanket to lay on. There are countless options when it comes to towels, I like to go with bright summer colors and something that will dry quickly. Click here to check out the beach towel options available on Amazon.
It seems like round towels are becoming a new trend, but I haven’t tried that yet. Luckily, you can get beach towels from most hotels, if it is close to the beach or has a pool, but you may need to pack them if you stay at a vacation rental.
Bathing Suit/Cover up/Change of Clothes
Ok, this one is a little obvious, unless it’s a nude beach, you will need a bathing suit to go into the water. You might also want to get a waterproof bag to keep wet clothes separate from the rest of your stuff. Depending on the itinerary and length of your beach trip, you should probably bring more than one bathing suit. Click here to see more beachwear options on Amazon.
(Waterproof) Beach bag
You are going to need something to carry all your stuff! You may want to consider a waterproof beach bag, but it may not be necessary. Mesh is another option because it makes it easier to get the sand out. You might also want to get a waterproof bag to keep your wet clothes separate from the rest of your stuff. Click here to see the beach bag options on Amazon.
If you are flying to get to your beach destination, I would recommend getting a bag that doubles as your carryon or one that folds up easily and fits into your luggage. Again, lots of options depending on what is most important to you.
Also, check out these practical tips if you are bringing babies to the beach.
I also worry about my stuff getting stolen while I am in the water! Seriously, I hear stories about that happening all the time. Sometimes, you may be able to find a trustworthy person to watch your stuff, but do you really want to be counting on a stranger to guard your valuables?
Luckily, now there are a few options you can try to keep valuables safe at the beach. First, you could buy something that does not look like a safe (i.e. a can of Arizona Ice Tea) and hide your valuables inside it. Second, you could buy a wallet/purse that you could take with you in the water.
Lastly, you could actually buy a safe. There are safes that you can bury in the sand or attach to your beach chair. (Click here to see the options available on Amazon). They have combination locks so that the thief would not be able to get to your valuables. I have also heard of people putting their valuables inside a diaper, thinking that no thief would want to steal a dirty diaper.
Considering what you have to lose these options don’t cost much and are really a good investment.
Sunglasses and/or Hat
Hopefully, it will be a sunny day when you are on the beach so you will need sunglasses! I don’t know why but this is the item I seem to forget the most! Please don’t take expensive sunglasses to the beach (Click here for some affordable options). I know too many stories of people who have lost them in the ocean (including my mom!). You may also want to bring a hat along for more sun protection. I wish I looked better in a hat, there are so many cute options!
Flip Flops and/or Water Shoes
I like to wear flips flops as much as possible and they are a must for the beach. I want my flip flops to be cute but also comfortable. My favorite brands are Teva and Yellow Box, but there are many more. (Click here to see the different flip-flop options available on Amazon.) You may also want to bring water shoes, especially if you are going to a beach that is rocky. (Click here to see the water shoes available on Amazon.)
You are definitely going to want a snack if you are on the beach all day. My favorite beach snack is gummies, but if you want something more substantial pretzels, chips, popcorn, granola bars will all work. I would stay away from things that might melt, like chocolate, unless you will have a cooler. (Click here to check out the snack options on Amazon.)
It is important to stay hydrated, especially when you are spending the day in the sun. If it’s going to be a hot day, you might want to even consider freezing the water like we did for our St. Martin hiking adventure.
Something To Sit On
You can always just lay on your towel in the sand, but there are some more appealing options. Now, you can get a beach blanket (like this one) that keeps the sand away. Some are nylon where you can easily wipe the sand off and there are others that are kind of mesh-like and the sand goes through them. I have also heard that some people use a fitted sheet to keep the sand away, but I am not sure how well that works.
If you feel more comfortable sitting elevated off the ground, there are a lot of nice portable beach chairs. I recommend getting one that has storage too so that it can double as your beach bag. You can also try one of the inflatable lounge chairs. I sat in one to try it and it was so comfortable that I didn’t want to get up!
Swim Cap/Hair Clips
If you want to do some serious swimming and keep your hair dry, add a swim cap to your beach vacation packing list. For me, I just bring a hair clip (like this one) or ponytail holder to keep my hair from getting too messed up.
You want to make sure you leave the beach clean, so bring a bag to carry trash away. Unfortunately, too many people litter on the beach. It’s harmful to animals and the environment.
Contact Lens Case and Solution
It’s a good idea to bring a travel contract lens kit, in case you need to take your lenses out. If water gets in your eyes when swimming, remove, clean and disinfect your contact lenses as soon as possible to reduce the risk of eye irritation and infection. (Make sure your travel contact lens kit includes a travel-sized solution like this one if you plan to pack it in your carryon.)
First Aid Kit
I hope you don’t have to use a first aid kit while at the beach, but things happen. (Click here to check the options for travel first aid kits on Amazon.) Just remember to put the scissors in your checked baggage if you’re flying. It is especially easy to get a cut or scrape, so if you don’t have room for the whole first aid kit, at least bring band-aids.
FREE Printable Beach Packing List
Get a printable packing list for the beach so that you can make sure you have everything you need to make the most of your day in the sun!
Optional Items On My Packing List for the Beach
These items are nice to have for your day at the beach. Depending on your personal preferences and baggage constraints you may choose to include these items on your beach travel packing list or leave them off.
Cooler or Some Way to Keep Your Beverages Cool
On a warm beach day, you will want to drink something cool, so it’s helpful to have a cooler. Most coolers on wheels don’t work so well on the sand. Try a soft-sided insulated bag like this one or maybe even a cooler roller backpack for the beach. If you don’t want to lug a whole cooler, you can try putting your cold beverage in a thermos or insulated travel mug like this one. You can also freeze your water bottles or bring an ice pack like this. Either way, I am sure you will be thankful for a refreshing drink.
Note: Please check the local laws regarding alcohol before bringing any to a beach, I don’t want anyone getting in trouble. You should also be aware that glass is not allowed on some beaches.
To Go Cup
I also like to be able to have a drink while I am in the water. It is just so relaxing. You can’t bring a paper cup in the water though. Instead, I prefer having a “to go” cup with a lid, it’s also better for the environment. You can also use it to show off your personality or your favorite team. Plus, if you splurge for a Yeti, like this one, it will keep your beverage nice and cold. Your to go cup will be on more than just your beach getaway packing list, I think you will find you get a lot of use out of it!
I originally bought my portable picnic table for picnics in the park, but it would work well for a beach day too. It would also come in handy for other summer events. It’s nice to have your food elevated off the sand. If it’s windy put your drinks (or other heavy items) on top of it to help keep it stable. Click here to see more portable table options on Amazon.
It is nice to have an option to get out of the sun but still stay on the beach. If you have fair skin, you need to include something on your tropical vacation packing list that gives you a break from the sun’s harsh rays (in addition to sunscreen!). While you can rent a beach umbrella at some beaches, if you go to the beach often, it might be a good investment. There are some beach umbrellas on the market for about the same prices as renting one for a day. I have also seen chairs that come with an umbrella, like this one.
If you have children, consider investing in something that also blocks the wind such as a tent or a windscreen like this one. This can be especially useful at a beach in a destination that is not always warm.
The beach is the perfect place to do some leisure reading, that is why they are called beach reads right? For the beach, I like to read something very light and fun, or maybe something about my next travel destination. It’s also sometimes fun to just read a magazine. If you aren’t in the mood to read, you can also use your time at the beach to write postcards to your friends and family back home.
Personally, I use the Kindle app to just read on my iPhone (Click here to read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App), or you may want to get the Kindle Paperwhite because it won’t have any glare in bright sunlight. I know some people want to feel the paper of the book in their hands. Either way is fine for the beach, just make sure to choose something you will enjoy reading.
If the water is clear it can be fun to try and get some underwater footage. A GoPro is great for this because the case is waterproof up to 131 feet deep so it goes well with your scuba gear. We use the GoPro Hero 7 Black. You can also get special underwater filters. Just make sure any selfie-sticks or other accessories are also waterproof. For a cheaper option for underwater shots, buy a waterproof case for your phone like this one.
It is always nice to have some tunes going and there are a lot of portable speakers available these days! I love my country music. I hook a waterproof speaker up to my phone using Bluetooth and play from Amazon Music. A portable speaker also works great in the hotel room too! Click here to check out the waterproof speaker options on Amazon.
Noodles are great for just relaxing in the water and they are cheap and don’t take up too much space. Katherine has been known include a noodle or two on her beach weekend packing list. I don’t recommend bringing a float to the beach though. Especially if you have children it can be dangerous as the tides and current can be unpredictable. These are not a replacement for life jackets.
Goggles and Snorkel Gear
You may want to wear goggles (like these) when you are swimming to protect your eyes. Additionally, some beaches have snorkeling areas. Of course, you can rent the snorkel gear, but it is nicer to have your own that you know is clean and you are comfortable with. Click here to check out the snorkeling gear available on Amazon.
Especially if you are going to the beach with kids, you will want to bring along the right equipment to build a nice sandcastle. One of my favorite beach activities is to look for shells. I also had fun fossil hunting. Depending on how serious you are about shelling or finding fossils, you might appreciate having the “proper” equipment.
There are lots of fun games to play on the beach from volleyball to frisbee to just throwing around a beach ball. It can be a great family bonding activity or even make it a competition! Look into sand socks to protect your feet if you are going to be playing on the hot sand all day.
Beach Coaster or Drink Holder
You might want to enjoy an adult beverage while you are relaxing on the beach, so how about a beach coaster or drink holder (like this) to make sure your drink doesn’t spill. You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?!
So what about you? Do you have any beach packing tips? What do you think is important to bring along on a beach day? Anything that I missed in my packing list for the beach?
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Expert Tips for Compiling Your Beach Packing List:
- Keep in mind luggage restrictions if you are flying to your beach destination.
- Check the local laws on alcohol before you get to the beach to avoid any issues.
- Be careful about leaving your belongings unattended on the beach, it may be worth on investing in some type of beach safe.
- Click here to get your FREE printable beach vacation packing list.
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