Are you heading to the coast for vacation and wondering what to bring to the beach? Use our beach essentials list to help pack everything you need for a great trip. This beach packing list includes all the essentials you need to enjoy fun in the sun.
Plus, it’s helpful for family beach vacations, party beach trips, and even 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. Here’s our ultimate list of things to bring to the beach!
What to Bring to the Beach? Our Beach Essentials
You’re heading to the beach, so a swimsuit is one of the main beach essentials you need! We like to travel with at least two different swimsuits to know we will always have an extra dry one on hand.
One of my favorite women’s swimsuits brands is Andies Swim. They make high-quality swimsuits for active women at an affordable price; they are super comfortable and never feel unsupportive. Many of their pieces are super stylish and fit exceptionally well; I particularly love their one-pieces.
For men, one to two is a good number of swimsuits to travel to the beach. Cameron loves Quicksilver’s Amphibian shorts. The material looks like heavy cotton, but they’re super lightweight and durable. Best of all, they look great on the beach or in town.
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EVERFUN Cooler Backpack
You need a cooler if you’re genuinely wondering what to bring to the beach. You’ll want some cold drinks for any day trip to the beach. After we throw our bathing suits on, it’s the first thing we pack up. Traditional coolers are heavy and painful on the beach, so we use a portable travel cooler like the EVERFUN Cooler Backpack when we’re on the beach.
It keeps your drinks fresh for the day at the beach, and our drinks are always frosty cold. The EVERFUN is an excellent investment if you want to pack more while still being portable. The cooler is great for the beach since it is leakproof, resistant to mildew and punctures, durable, and entirely mobile.
Beyond that, an excellent 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.
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A coverup is one of those beach vacation clothes you should always travel with within your luggage. When packing for a day at the beach, make sure you don’t forget one. They look cute, but they will also protect you from the sun’s harsh rays. Many establishments don’t allow beachgoers only to wear a swimsuit, so this is where the coverup is beach essential.
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A waterproof speaker is one of those excellent “never thought about” things to bring to the beach. It all depends on where you’re heading to the beach, but a portable Bluetooth speaker is great when you’re in a group.
We travel with a small speaker and take it when it feels appropriate. We say this because it’s often best to leave it at home on small secluded beaches not to annoy anyone else with your music — no one’s that good of a DJ.
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Change Of Clothes
It might not be first of mind, but a change of clothes is always a good idea for a trip to the beach. You don’t have to grab a post-beach smoothie, shaved ice, beer, or coffee.
A stylish coverup or dress is a great choice. My favorite easy sundresses are from Salty Crush, a bohemian fashion brand that makes beautiful styles for all shapes and sizes. Their dresses look great, and I always get compliments.
Women’s Clothing Recommendations
Men can never go wrong with a classic white tee with a slim cut or a linen shirt for a timeless style that handles the heat well. Pair those with a pair of jeans or keep on the board shorts.
Men’s Linen Shirt Recommendations
A pair of relaxed pants are perfect for the beach! prAna makes some fantastic sustainable pants out of alternative materials that are super comfortable. Men can enjoy the Vaha Pants, relaxed hemp pants that dry fast and look great.
The Mantra Pants are made from a hemp/polyester blend and offer 50+ UPF protection for women. They’re perfect for beach destinations, especially if you find yourself in more conservative areas. They’re a wardrobe staple for relaxed island destinations and are worn throughout the day.
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Are you still wondering what to wear on the beach? Don’t forget about a warm fleece for the evening. Of course, what you wear all depends on where you live! You may want something more hospitable for those heading to the beach in colder climates or cold water coastlines like the West Coast. For those days, we constantly reach for a warm fleece jacket.
Patagonia’s Synchilla Snap T Pullover fleece is the best fleece for the beach. The fleece has a classic relaxed cut with a timeless look for walking on the beach or at an evening bonfire. It’s a double-sided fleece that provides plenty of warmth while remaining soft and comfortable. They also make an excellent gift for travelers as they’re a wardrobe staple.
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If you plan on doing some adventure activities while at the beach, like surfing or bodyboarding, it might be worth having a pair of beach shorts. I particularly love to wear swim shorts when doing these activities so my legs don’t chafe or get scratched against the board.
Title Nine’s Wahine shorts look great at the beach. They are extremely comfortable and dry fast after getting out of the water. They are perfect for when bikini bottoms are too small, but boardshorts are too much.
They are abrasion-resistant with a built-in brief, an elastic waist, and TONS of amazing colors to choose from. There is also one zippered waist stash pocket for things like chapstick or keys.
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There is no argument sandals are a beach necessity. They are a staple to any beach packing list as no one wants to wear sneakers to the beach. Rainbow Sandal Company makes my favorite flip-flops, but Havianas and Birkenstocks are great choices.
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Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
We live in a digital world, and it feels like most photos now only exist on our phones, cameras, or the cloud. With a fun camera like the Instax Square SQ6, you can take instant photos as a fun keepsake. Save your memories from the beach with Fuji’s excellent instant film camera. We tried several out and found the quality of the Instax Square to be the best.
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An excellent travel beach tote should be on everyone’s beach vacation packing list. No matter what, you will need a beach bag when heading to the beach. It helps carry 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.
A classic tote is an excellent option for those who live close to the beach on short trips. They also travel well as they can fold flat and lie in your luggage. I recommend a large yet durable beach tote for family beachgoers like this one from Yeti.
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Don’t forget a towel if you’re still wondering what to bring on a beach vacation. You can’t go to the beach without a towel, and everyone who gets in the water needs a good towel to dry off after swimming or lay down in the sand. Consider packing a lightweight travel towel for beach hopping if you’re traveling abroad.
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If you are considering what to pack for a beach resort vacation, I recommend picking up a stylish beach hat! Anyone can attest to the power of the sun’s rays, and a hat on the beach is the first line of defense from sun damage.
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In addition to a hat, sunscreen is super important. Skin cancer is real, and sunscreen is a must-have on 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.
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Lip Balm With SPF
An important one of those things to take to the beach! While your body has sunscreen, lip balm with an SPF is essential to protect your lips. They are far more delicate than your skin, and it’s a common area to receive a burn with the reflection from the water. Make sure to put lip balm on your beach essentials list when you pack for the beach.
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Water shoes used to be super hokey and ugly. No longer as there are several manufacturers like Tropicfeel that have created stylish water shoes. 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 chasing waterfalls in Bali. 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 a pair of Teva or Chacos that hold better than traditional sandals.
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Ensure to protect your eyes from the sun on the beach. There are many options for sunglasses, and everyone should own at least a pair. We don’t need a dozen iterations of products we use in life. For a timeless pair of sunglasses, it’s tough to find a more versatile pair than the Original Wayfarer.
We love to travel and hike around the world. Sunglasses like the Ray-Ban Wayfarers are perfect for mountain summits or new cities. I can wear them in a suit or on a mountain summit.
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Stanley Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Traveling to the beach with fresh water is vital, as getting dehydrated in the sun on the beach is easy. We like to use insulated stainless steel water bottles from Stanley at the beach because they are well insulated and great for the environment. Put ice in this bad boy, and you can expect a cold drink for up to 36 hours!
The Stanley Ice Flow water bottles are perfect for the beach as they are double insulated and have a convenient flip straw for easy drinking. You can see all their fun colors on their website!
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GoPro Hero Camera
A GoPro is the perfect camera to bring to the beach; you’ll see them everywhere. If you’re embarking on any adventures from surfing to hiking to snowboarding, a GoPro is the travel item you need. Don’t risk bringing a fancy camera to the beach and getting sand in it. Or even worse, water. Just attach it to a wrist strap, so it doesn’t get lost!
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SNACKS – should be at the top of the things you need for the beach. We all know these are important beach essentials for everyone! If you’re packing for the beach, having some excellent snacks on hand is always a good idea. Snacks are among some of those necessary beach items you need.
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Ice Cold Drinks
Along with your snacks, stick some cold drinks in the cooler – yes, they are beach necessities. Beer, sparkling water, or whatever favorite beverage, 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 difficulty kicking an unhealthy soda habit, sparkling water can also be a great substitute with no calories. Update (we just upgraded to a SodaStream, and this is now how we get all our bubbly water nowadays)
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 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 love it. It’s small, has touch screen functions, and a backlight so I can read at night without a harsh glare.
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Things to Bring To Beach for A Family
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.
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When wondering what to bring to the beach, don’t forget a beach blanket. We’ve taken to using a tremendous multi-use item in the mountains Yeti’s Lowlands Blanket. Of course, with the Yeti names comes premium product with a high price tag.
However, you get a blanket that extends far beyond the beach we regularly use in the mountains on the cold ground, on a wet riverbank fishing, camping, or along the lake. It’s one of our favorite items we own and use regularly.
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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 a 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 worldwide allow them.
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Beach tents are great for those who want to enjoy the beach yet stay out of the sun simultaneously! It’s also vital to protect young children and babies from sun damage. The added layer of protection from the wind and sand is also lovely on those windy days. Plus, if you need to change your kid’s clothes at the beach, it provides an added layer of privacy.
It does not offer the same level of protection, but a Shibumi is lightweight and easy to set up if you’re after sun protection. It’s a simple sail that blows in the wind from an arch and provides shade. They’re all made in the USA and have swept across the East Coast.
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If you’re heading to the beach with some little ones, bringing along a few beach toys and beach balls won’t hurt! You can never go wrong with a set to build some sandcastles. Please remember to pick up after yourself and your child. We see too many little plastic pieces left on the beach, which only goes into the ocean, causing damage.
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Make sure to buy some floaties, water wings, or life jackets for your children if they aren’t strong swimmers. There are some funny and cute ones on Amazon sure to smile on your children’s faces.
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Things to Bring to the Beach with Friends
Since Instagram, funny and chic floats have become all the rage at the beach. You can get anything from Unicorn floaties to giant parrots! It’s another one of those fun things to take to the beach!
They’re one of those fun beach must-haves, but please don’t get carried away as we aren’t big fans of single-use plastics. It isn’t nice to head to the beach and let your float drift off into the ocean. Just because something is cheap doesn’t make it disposable.
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ION Explorer Large Outdoor Speaker
We picked this up for the family home at the beach, and it’s been an excellent investment. It’s a lot bigger than a small portable Bluetooth speaker, but it’s also 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 it can be super helpful if having beach parties, family reunions, or events. 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.
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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. Suppose 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!
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Travel hammocks are our way of life when we travel. They are perfect for throwing up when you find two palm trees to relax underneath! The ENO hammock was the original producer. Now, you can find many 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.
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We just got our hands on the brand new Cooler Cup by one of our favorite brands, Hydro Flask. 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 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 excellent for canned beverages, it also doubles as an insulated cup by just popping off the top. Do not hesitate to put this item on your beach checklist.
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When I’m at the beach with my friends, I love enjoying a glass of white wine or sangria. Unfortunately, wine can get warm quickly in the sun, and no one likes warm wine. Wine tumblers are my new favorite beach packing list item. These Yeti wine tumblers are stainless steel and come in various colors. Get ready for Beach Happy Hour!
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Fun Things To Pack For The Beach
Beach Frisbee, Football, or Volleyball
It’s hard to imagine any beach worldwide 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 we go the classic pigskin when we’re at home.
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. Having some form of a ball or frisbee should be mandatory on every beach packing list.
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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 set up, and you can pick them up for an affordable price. They’re great fun for anyone active and even kids.
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Bodyboards aren’t just for kids! They are tons of fun if the surf is good and you still want to stay in the shallow zones. It’s an excellent introduction to catching waves for those interested in surfing, as the principle of catching a wave is the same.
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If you’re traveling during the offseason and plan to enjoy the water, I 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 there also essential because even in warm water, your body temperature will drop as the water pulls heat from your body faster than air.
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Fins and Snorkel Gear
If you’re into snorkeling, pick up some fins, a mask, and a 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 bag.
Since Cam has freediving fins, they 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 at a resort or hotel on your vacation, check to see if they have free equipment you can use!
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We always travel with a dry bag, whether or not it is a beach vacation. Dry bags pack up quickly and are lightweight, so there is no reason not to have one. They have saved our electronics several times and have quickly paid for themselves when we’ve traveled to beach destinations like The Seychelles, Cyprus, or yachting in the Mediterranean.
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Mesh or Dive Bag
One of the last items on this list of what to take to the beach is a mesh bag. Mesh bags are great for storing water gear such as a mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit, or anything going in the ocean. They allow water to escape and the items to dry, thus fighting mildew and damage from the saltwater.
Once you reach home or your hotel, you can dunk the bag in fresh water and clean off your gear. We travel around with a mesh bag for our diving equipment, which is pretty universal.
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If you are traveling with your vehicle and have space for a kayak, consider purchasing one for your beach trip packing list. Kayaks come in all shapes, and colors online fit every budget. I’ve even seen blow-up kayaks in the oceans lately.
While you can buy Kayaks online, you often pay 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.
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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 protects you from skin rashes, keeps you warm, and protects you from the sun. I travel to all beach destinations with rash guards.
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Hope you enjoyed this free beach essentials packing list. Have fun, be safe, and above all enjoy your time at the beach!