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! I usually like to travel with at least two different swimsuits so that I know I 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 has long loved prAna board shorts as they make great quality shorts and stay up to date with trends. His suggestions on board shorts are to stick with darker colors as they hold up longer and to get a shorter cut above the knee.
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 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.
It’s 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 like the Tourit is durable, waterproof, and comfortable to carry. You can pick it up in two sizes and colors. If you want to check out some other great coolers you can view them here.
A cover up is another 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.
Shorts and Tank Tops
A few pairs of shorts are always a good idea. I like jean shorts since they don’t stain very easily. I like to wear tank tops because they keep me cool and I avoid odd tan-lines.
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)
I literally live in loose free flowing pants when I’m at the beach. My favorite are made by prAna. Their Women’s Mantra 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.
No matter what you will need a beach bag when heading to the beach. This is to throw in anything from towels to books, to sunscreen. Depending on the size of your beach party you may only need one medium sized tube. For family beach goers I recommend a large yet durable beach tote like this one.
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 considering what to pack for a beach resort vacation I would highly recommend picking up a stylish beach hat!
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.
Water ShoesWater shoes are great if you will be doing any walking around rocks and cliffs. I’ve been caught a few times without them and my feet have paid dearly for my mistake.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun on your beach trip! I personally can’t even go outside without sunglasses. For everyday wear I like to go with eco friendly sunglasses. Plastic reduction makes me feel good!
Traveling to the beach with fresh water in hand is important as it is easy to get dehydrated on the beach. We like to use stainless steel water bottles at the beach because they are well insulated and great for the environment. Check out our full list of the best water bottles here.
A good book/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 an entertainment. 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 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.
You can always consider a floaty case to help loss prevention. 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.
Essentials 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.
Beach TentBeach tents are great for those that want to enjoy the beach, yet stay out of the sun at the same time!
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 for your children if they aren’t strong swimmers. There are some funny and cute ones on Amazon sure to put a smile on the children’s faces.
For the Party beachgoers
Ever since Instagram, funny and chic floatables have become all the rage at the beach. Nowadays you get anything from Unicorn floaties to giant parrots! They are an essential item on any girls beach packing list!
HammockTravel hammocks are our way of life when we travel. They are perfect to throw up when you find two palm trees to relax under!
Beach Vacation Packing for the Active
BodyboardBodyboards like this 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.
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.
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. Both of our masks areAqualung masks and we use them for snorkeling and diving. I have Oceanic finsand 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 or not. They pack up easily and are lightweight so there really is no reason not to have one. They have saved our electronics a number of times and have easily paid for themselves when we’ve traveled to beach destinations like The Seychelles, Cyprus, or yachting in the Mediterranean. See more of the top rate dry bags here.
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.
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