Heading to the coast for a vacation? Use our beach packing list to help you pack everything you will need for a great trip. This beach packing list includes all the 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 constantly chasing the endless summer dream.
The Ultimate Beach Packing List
You’re heading to the beach so obviously the number one thing you need is a swimsuit! We like to travel with at 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 prAna. prAna makes high-quality swimsuits for active women. Many of their pieces are stylish, yet supportive. 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.
2.) Portable Cooler
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 Tourit 30 when we’re on the beach.
It claims to keep your drinks cool for up to three days, while we’ve never tested that feature out – one day at the beach and drinks are always frosty cold. Its intention is to offer a more affordable option to compete with the high-end YETI coolers. Either option is the perfect item to bring with you for a beach picnic or your typical beach day.
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.
3.) Cover up
A cover-up is one of those beach vacation clothes you should always travel with. 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 essential.
Most of my cover-ups come from Pitusa. Pitusa only uses Peruvian and Indian cotton and employs women from Peru, Bali, and India to make the products. As a fan of fair trade, I love that these are made in ethical work environments.
These Pitusa dresses are also so beautiful they double as a night out dress (but are sheer so wear something underneath).
Men, on the other hand, can never go wrong with a classic white t-shirt, plus it shows off your tan.
4.) Waterproof Speaker
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.
5.) 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, mine is from Vacay Style!
Men can never go wrong with a classic white tee that is a slim cut. Pair it with a pair of jeans or just 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.
6.) Warm Fleece
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 classic wardrobe staple.
I used to live at the beach, so Rainbow flip flops are my go-to when it comes to comfortable beach footwear. In 10 years, I’ve had only two pairs of flip-flops, both were Rainbows, and I only had to buy a second pair because my first was stolen in Thailand.
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 really dress up a beach casual look. I have a pair in almost all of their styles! (Psst here is a code for 20% of your next pair on Amazon: PLAKAS18)
8.) Loose Pants
I pretty much live in loose pants when at the beach. My favorite pair of pants is made by prAna. Their women’s Summit Pant is made out of hemp and recycled polyester while offering 50+ UPF protection. They’re the women’s version of the men’s Vaha Pant we recommended earlier.
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.
9.) Beach Bag
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 unecessary.
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.
10.) Beach 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. 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.
13.) Water Shoes
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. 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.
15.) 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.
16.) 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.
17.) GoPro Hero 7
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 Hero 7 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.
Essentials for Family Beach Vacations
18.) Beach Chairs
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.
19.) A Kite
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. Just make sure that the beach you’re heading to allows kites as not all beaches around the world allow them.
20.) Beach TentBeach 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 protetion 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.
21.) Kids Toys
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.
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.
For the Party beachgoers
23.) Fun Floats
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.
24.) 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.
25.) Corn Hole Boards
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 own 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 own 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!
26.) Beach Hammock
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. Personally, I’d just stick with the original.
Beach Vacation Packing for the Active
27.) 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 a volleyball is always 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.
29.) BodyboardBodyboards like 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 essential because even in warm water your body temperature will begin to drop as water pulls heat from your body faster than air.
31.) 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 set up. Personally, 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.
Alternatively, if you’re staying a resort or hotel on your vacation check to see if they have free equipment you can use!
32.) Dry bag
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.
33.) Saltwater Kayak
If you are traveling with your own vehicle and have space for a kayak then consider purchasing one to enjoy. 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 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.
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