Are you heading to the coast for vacation and wondering what to bring to the beach? Use our beach packing list to help you pack everything you will need for a great trip. This beach packing list includes all the beach essentials you need to enjoy some fun in the sun.
Plus it’s helpful for family beach vacations, party beach trips, and even the active beachgoers. We’ve traveled to every ocean in the world with the items mentioned as we feel we are continually chasing the endless summer dream.
What to Bring to the Beach?
Ultimate Beach Packing Checklist
Essential Beach Packing List Items
You’re heading to the beach so obviously the number one thing you need is a swimsuit! We like to travel with at least two different swimsuits so that we know we will always have an extra dry one on hand.
One of my favorite brands for swimsuits is Andies Swim. Andies Swim makes high-quality swimsuits for active women. Many of their pieces are super stylish and fit extremely well, I particularly love their one pieces. So if you’re planning to go surfing, bodyboarding, kitesurfing, or play beach volleyball and want to make sure your ta-tas stay intact these swimsuits are for you.
For men, I would say one to two is a good number of swimsuits to travel to the beach with as well. Cameron loves a good pair of board shorts from Billabong or Dakine. Both make great quality shorts that are lightweight and built for surfing, so they stretch and move with the body.
When purchasing board shorts, it’s best to stick with darker colors as they hold up longer and to get a shorter cut above the knee. As for material, a great blend of polyester and elastane is a solid choice as it’s lightweight and comfortable.
If you’re truly wondering what to bring to the beach, you need a cooler. I mean 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 pain on the beach so we use a portable travel cooler like the Hopper Flip when we’re on the beach.
It claims to keep your drinks fresh for up to three days, while we’ve never tested that feature out – one day at the beach and drinks are always frosty cold. If you want to pack a more while still being portable, the Hopper Flip is an excellent investment. Yeti products are great for the beach since they are leakproof, resistant to mildew and punctures, durable, and are entirely portable. Many of their coolers have closed cell rubber insulation and robust zippers.
Beyond that, a good portable cooler makes for a good investment if you like to go camping, canoeing, or just a day at the park. A well-built cooler should be durable, waterproof, and comfortable to carry. If you want to check out some other great coolers, you can view them here.
A cover-up is one of those beach vacation clothes you should always travel within your luggage. When packing for a day at the beach, make sure you don’t forget one. Not only do they look cute, but they will also protect you from the suns harsh rays. Many establishments don’t allow beachgoers to wear just a swimsuit, so this is where the cover-up is beach essential.
A waterproof speaker is one of those awesome “never thought about” things to bring to the beach. This all depends on where you’re heading to the beach, but a portable Bluetooth speaker is great to have when you’re in a group. We travel with a small BOOM speaker and take it with us when it feels appropriate. We say this because it’s often best to leave it at home on small secluded beaches so not to annoy anyone else with your music — no one’s that good of a DJ.
Change Of Clothes
One of the best things to take to the beach is a proper change of clothes. A change of clothes is always a good idea to have on hand when heading to the beach. That way, you can get a post-beach smoothie, shaved ice, beer, or coffee. I like to bring a pair of jean shorts since they don’t stain very easily. For my top, I opt to wear tank tops because they keep me cool and avoid odd tan-lines.
Of course, a stylish coverup is also a great choice, and mine is from Vacay Style! Vacay Style sells curated collections of clothes to help pack a multitude of styles in as few as items as possible. I’ve also negotiated an amazing discount of 25% for readers of The World Pursuit – use the code WORLD at checkout.
Men can never go wrong with a classic white tee that is a slim cut. Pair it with a pair of jeans or keep on the board shorts and you’re ready for the road. Another great option is prAna’s Vaha Pants— they’re a relaxed hemp pant that dry fast and made sustainably.
Still wondering what to take to the beach? Don’t forget about a warm fleece for the evening. Of course, what you wear all depends on where you live! For those heading to the beach in colder climates or cold water coastlines like the West Coast, you may want something a little warmer. For those days we always reach for a warm fleece jacket.
Patagonia’s Synchilla Snap T Pullover fleece is the best fleeces for the beach in our opinion. The fleece has a classic relaxed cut that has a timeless look for a walk on the beach or evening bonfire. It’s a double-sided fleece that provides plenty of warmth while remaining soft and comfortable. They also make a great gift for travelers as they’re a wardrobe staple.
You can’t go to the beach and not pack sandals, they are beach necessities. Seriously, they are a staple to any beach packing list. My favorite flip flops are made by Rainbow, but Havianas and Birkenstocks are also a great choice.
My other favorite, more fashionable sandals for women at the beach, are Plaka. Plaka sandals are handwoven women’s sandals with a hard rubber sole that is good to wear anywhere in the summer. All of these sandals are hand-made and water-resistant and can dress up a casual beach look. I have a pair in almost all of their styles!
I pretty much live in loose pants when at the beach. My favorite pair of pants are by prAna. Their pants are made out of hemp and recycled polyester while offering 50+ UPF protection.
They are perfect for beach destinations, especially if you find yourself in more conservative areas. These pants are lightweight and weigh nothing in a carry-on bag. I could literally live in these pants if it were acceptable to wear them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner out. While in the Maldives, they were a wardrobe staple for nighttime as they are appropriate to wear barefoot to a nice resort restaurant.
A beach tote should be on everyones beach vacation packing list. No matter what you will need a beach bag when heading to the beach. This is to throw in anything like towels, a book, a speaker, sunglasses, snacks, and sunscreen. As full-time travelers, we often use our daypacks for trips to the beach since a tote is unnecessary.
However, a classic tote that everyone has in their closet is a great option for those on short trips or live close to the beach. They also travel well as they can fold flat and lie in your luggage. For family beach goers I recommend a large yet durable beach tote like this one.
If you’re still wondering what to bring on a beach vacation don’t forget a towel. One thing that you really can’t go to the beach without is a towel. Everyone needs a good towel to dry off after a swim or lay down in the sand. I am currently loving the new round beach towels like this one. When packing for a family beach trip try getting a set online!
If you are considering what to pack for a beach resort vacation I recommend picking up a stylish beach hat! A classic travel staple is the Panama Hat which I wore in the Galapagos Islands.
Interestingly enough Panama Hat’s are not from Panama, but they originate from Ecuador. I picked mine up in Quito, but you can find plenty of cheap ones online that are perfect for the beach.
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling to the beach, it is definitely one of those beach items you need. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you’ll pay high prices for low-quality sunblocks once you’re at your beach destination.
We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals. They’re mineral based and usually only cost a few dollars more to help protect our oceans.
Lip Balm With SPF
Sun protection can be a given in regards to your body with sunscreen, but lip balm with an SPF is equally important. Your lips are far more delicate than your skin and with the reflection from water, it’s a common area to receive a burn. Make sure to put lip balm on your beach essentials list when your packing for the beach.
These used to be super hokey and ugly. No longer as there are a number of manufactures and shoe companies who have created water shoes that are stylish. They look more like traditional shoes, but are breathable and made with waterproof materials.
Water shoes are great if you will be doing any walking around rocks, cliffs, or waterfalls in Bali or Costa Rica. I’ve been caught a few times without them, and my feet have paid dearly for my mistake. The other option would be to bring along a pair of hiking sandals that hold better than traditional sandals.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun on the beach, these are another beach vacation must haves. There are a lot of options for sunglasses, and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses.
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 from Hydroflask at the beach because they are well insulated and great for the environment.
If you’re packing for the beach it’s always a good idea to have some awesome snacks on hand. Snacks are among some of those crucial beach items you need.
Right along with your snacks make sure to stick some cold drinks in the cooler – yes they are beach necessities. Beer, wine, sparkling water or whatever your favorite drink throw it in the cooler. Try to avoid drinks in single use plastics and opt for aluminum as it’s one of the best materials to recycle. Our favorite drink when out in the heat is sparkling water, La Croix to be specific. If you’re having a hard time kicking an unhealthy soda habit, sparkling water can also be a great substitute with no calories.
A Good Book or Kindle
Check out some of the best sellers right now and pick up a copy. I like to read on days when I just feel like sunbathing and relaxing. Cameron is pretty impatient so having a book to read on the beach provides some much-needed entertainment. Of course, we’re also big fans of used bookstores and always seek them out while traveling.
Update: I’ve recently upgraded to the Kindle Paperwhite and absolutely love it. It’s small, has touch screen functions, and a backlight so that I can read at night without a harsh glare.
Don’t risk bringing a fancy camera to the beach and getting sand in it. Or even worse, water. We like to throw a GoPro on our beach packing list since they are waterproof. Just make sure to attach it to a wrist strap so it doesn’t get lost! The Indian Ocean may or may not have swallowed one of our cameras before.
Update: We just got the Sony RX100v with underwater housing as an alternative to the GoPro. It’s more expensive but takes great all around photos and the underwater housing is fantastic for a semi-affordable price.
Essential Beach Packing List Items for Family Beach Vacations
Personally, I would always rather sit on a chair than with a towel on the sand. If your luggage space permits consider bringing beach chairs to the beach for you and your family. It’s one of those “duh” things to bring to the beach for many people.
Another great option is to pack a beach blanket. A great multi use we’ve taken to using in the mountains is Yeti’s Lowlands Blanket. Of course, with the Yeti names comes premium product with a high price tag. However, what you get is a blanket that’s use extends far beyond the beach we regullarly use ours in the mountains on cold ground, along a wet river bank fishing, or when we’re out at a friends lakehouse.
Believe it or not, my first time flying a kite was at the beach in Wilmington with Cameron at the ripe age of 28. It doesn’t matter the age, but kites are always fun time on the beach, and are a must-have beach essential. Just make sure that the beach you’re heading to allows kites as not all beaches around the world allow them.
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.
If you’re heading to the beach with some little ones then bringing along a few beach toys and beach balls won’t hurt! You can never go wrong with a set to build some sand castles. Just please remember to pick up after yourself and your child. We see way too many little plastic pieces left on the beach, which only goes into the ocean causing damage.
Make sure to buy some floaties or life jackets for your children if they aren’t strong swimmers. There are some funny and cute ones on Amazon sure to put a smile on your children’s faces.
Things to Bring to the Beach with Friends
Ever since Instagram, funny and chic floats have become all the rage at the beach. You can get anything from Unicorn floaties to giant parrots!
They’re a fun item to bring to the beach, but please don’t get carried away as we aren’t big fans of single-use plastics. It’s pretty bad to head to the beach to let, and then you float drift off into the ocean. Just because something is cheap doesn’t make it disposable.
ION Explorer Large Outdoor Speaker
We picked this up for the family home at the beach, and it’s been a great investment. It’s a lot bigger than a small portable Bluetooth speaker, but it’s also a lot louder and more substantial. We like to use it when riding around on the boat before landing on the island and drinking a few beers on the beach.
It also comes with a microphone so if you’re having beach parties, family reunions, or events it can be super helpful. It’s Bluetooth compatible, waterproof, holds a long charge, doubles as a seat, and even has two drink holders. It’s been a great addition to our beach packing list on the right day.
Corn Hole Boards and Bags
Almost every college student in America has played corn hole. It originates from the mid-west but is now found everywhere including the beach. You can even order the boards online.
We’ve always made our boards and then ordered the synthetic bags online as they last longer in humidity than the traditional corn filled bags if you want to make your boards check out this guide online.
Of course, it’s a game best enjoyed with a beer in hand. That doesn’t mean that everyone including kids doesn’t love the game!
Travel hammocks are our way of life when we travel. They are perfect to throw up when you find two palm trees to relax under!
The ENO hammock was the original producer. Now, you can find a multitude of cheap ones online as they’re easy to manufacture in China, and people love to buy and sell them on Amazon. I’d stick with the original.
We just got our hands on the brand new Cooler Cup by one of our favorite brands, Hydroflask. We love these things and use them every day. They make them out of Durable Pro-Grade Stainless Steel and Tempsheid technology. The cup is a double wall vacuum insulator, and that is BPA-free and Phthalate-free. It fits a can perfectly and keeps my drinks cold for hours.
I don’t just use it at the beach though, but for every drink, I have at home too. While it’s great for canned drinks, it also doubles as an insulated cup by just popping off the top. Do not hesitate to put this item on your beach checklist.
When I’m at the beach with my friends, I love enjoying a glass of white wine or sangria. Unfortunately, wine can get warm very fast in the sun and turn gross. Wine tumblers are my new favorite beach packing list item. These Yeti wine tumblers are stainless steel and come in a variety of colors. Get ready for Beach Happy Hour!
Fun Things To Pack For The Beach
Beach Frisbee, Football, or Volleyball
It’s hard to imagine any beach around the world without a frisbee, football (both types), or some form of sport. It’s easy to travel around with a frisbee as they fit easily in a suitcase, but when we’re at home, we go the classic pigskin.
One of my biggest passions is beach volleyball, and I’ve been playing for over a decade now. While it might not always be competitive at the beach, volleyball is still a fun time.
In my opinion, having some form of a ball or frisbee should be mandatory on every beach packing list.
If you’re going to head to a beach with some trees and like to work on your balance a slackline is a great thing to bring. They’re super simple to setup and you can pick them up for an affordable price. They’re great fun for anyone active and even kids.
Bodyboards aren’t just for kids! They are tons of fun if the surf is good and you want to stay in the shallow zones still. It’s a good introduction to catching waves for those who are interested in surfing as the principle of catching a wave is the same.
If you’re traveling during the offseason and plan to enjoy the water I would recommend investing in a wetsuit. Wetsuits are particularly great for surfers around the world. Or anyone who lives near cold water.
If you plan to snorkel or dive they’re also beach essential because even in warm water, your body temperature will begin to drop as the water pulls heat from your body faster than air.
Fins and Snorkel Gear
If you’re into snorkeling, then pick up some fins, a mask, and snorkel, so you don’t get stuck paying to rent the setup. We travel around the world with our gear – yes, I’m serious. My fins fit right in my suitcase while the mask and snorkel sit comfortably in any backpack or suitcase.
Since Cam has freediving fins, his don’t fit in his suitcase, but he doesn’t mind carrying them on a plane and the airlines never even notice them.
Both of our masks are Aqualung masks and we use them for snorkeling and diving. I have Oceanic fins and use them everywhere, while Cam loves the brand Hammerhead for his underwater gear.
Alternatively, if you’re staying a resort or hotel on your vacation check to see if they have free equipment you can use!
We always travel with a dry bag whether or not it is a beach vacation. They pack up easily and are lightweight so there really is no reason not to have one.
Mesh or Dive Bag
Mesh bags are great for storing water gear such as a mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit, or anything that’s going in the ocean. They allow for water to escape and the items to dry, thus fighting mildew and damage from the salt water.
Plus once you reach home or your hotel you can dunk the bag in fresh water and clean off your gear. We both travel around with a mesh bag for our diving equipment, which is pretty universal.
If you are traveling with your own vehicle and have space for a kayak then consider purchasing one for you e beach trip packing list. They come in all shapes and colors online are fit for every budget. I’ve even seen blow up kayaks in the oceans lately.
While you can buy Kayaks online, you often end up paying more due to the shipping; they hide it in the price. We suggest heading to your local retailer and looking at what they have before making any purchase decisions.
If you plan on doing any surfing, snorkeling, diving, or spending a significant amount of time in the water, you may not need a full on wetsuit. Rashguards are still a great option and much cheaper.
A rashguard not only protects you from skin rashes, but also keeps you warm, and protects from the sun. I travel to all beach destinations with rash guards.
Hey, we’re Cameron and Natasha — We’re the head writers and creators of The World Pursuit. Over the last five years, we’ve traveled around the world. Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll send you our free beach packing checklist.
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