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Beach Day Essentials You Absolutely Need

What should you bring for a day at the beach? Use this beach day essentials list to make sure you don’t forget anything. 

When planning to spend a day at the beach, you don’t want to forget anything important. Check out our list of beach day essentials to make sure that you have everything you need for a fun and safe day at the beach. 

From clothing to essential gear, we have you covered with the top beach must-haves. Just keep reading! 

Assorted beach accessories on the sand of a tropical beach overlooking the water with a sunhat, sunscreen, towel, thongs, sunglasses and beach bag
Have fun packing your beach essentials for your beach day!

Need help planning your beach trip vacation? Check out our list of the essential travel planning resources. 

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✅ This is my #1 favorite beach day accessory.  

Beach day essentials list 

These are my essentials for a day at the beach. Some are ideal for one or two people but we also provide some options for family beach travels. 

Water-resistant, high-SPF sunscreen 

A good sunscreen is an absolute must, of course. I’m a big fan of this sunscreen. 

If you don’t like spray on sunscreens, try this lotion sunscreen. 

Remember that one application of sunscreen won’t protect you all day. Most water-resistant sunscreens claim up to 80 minutes of protection. That means you’ll need to be re-applying your sunscreen several times over the course of the day…especially if you’re in the water a lot.  

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beach day packing list

Polarized sunglasses with UV protection  

A good pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes while out in the bright sun. A stylish pair like these don’t have to cost a lot to still offer protection from glare and harmful UV rays. 

Choose polarized lenses to protect your eyes from glare. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Polarized lenses can improve clarity and reduce eye strain on bright sunny days…Having a bright shaft of sunlight hit you directly in the eyes is both annoying and potentially dangerous.” 

If you’re like me and you wear glasses normally, you can get prescription sunglasses from your optician or you might want to try a pair of sunglasses designed to fit over your regular glasses. These are popular. 

Hat with sun protection 

Keep cool and shade your face with a hat that offers protection from the sun. Look for a good quality hat that offers the max sun protection rating of 50+. 

This one is UPF 50+ as well as being packable and foldable. 

If you’re looking for a high-quality hat that you can use for any type of outdoor activity plus has wind cords for breezy beach days, you might really like this hat

Umbrella and a beach chair on a sandy beach at the shore

Beach umbrella 

Okay, so I think you can see where I’m going with all these recommendations. Keep out of the sun as much as possible. 

A colorful beach umbrella like this one is perfect for providing shade for up to two adults. We’ve been able to successfully squeeze up to three adults in the shade of one beach umbrella, but they really are better for two or fewer. 


A beach tent is perfect to provide shade for three or more adults. Try one that is about 10 feet by 10 feet (like this one with a 50+ sun protection rating).

And the one-piece frame sets up in just minutes. 

On a breezy/windy beach day, you’ll really wish you had some sand bag tent weights

Insulated water bottle 

Aside from protecting yourself from the sun on your beach day, you’ll want to make sure you keep hydrated. Pack yourself plenty of cool water to drink throughout the day. 

I love my large Yeti rambler. It holds a lot of water plus it’s dishwasher safe, which I think is a strong selling point. 

Beach chair 

If you don’t relish the idea of sitting in the sand, even on a towel (below) or beach mat (below), then you might prefer to pack a beach chair. 

This beach chair includes an insulated cup holder, a small insulated cooler pocket, mesh storage pocket and has backpack-style straps so you can carry it to the beach while keeping your hands free to carry other things. 

Beach towel 

Are there many things better than large fluffy beach towel? Probably not. 

These classic resort-style beach towels are extra large. Perfect for a day of fun on the beach. 

Sand-free beach mat 

Okay, so getting sand all over yourself and all your stuff is one of the annoyances we put up with when spending a day at the beach.  

BUT what if you could keep sand off your beach towel? This sand proof beach mat is specially designed so that any sand that lands on it filters down through but can’t migrate back up again. 

Pretty cool. 

And it comes in three sizes. 


Planning to spend all day at the beach? You’ll want to have a cooler with you to keep your lunch and drinks cold/cool.

This soft side cooler is easy to carry, but also rugged enough to withstand getting bashed about some. 

You can also find backpack coolers like this one that allow you to keep your hands free as you walk to your spot on the beach. 

A good beach read 

Something you won’t find on this list? A recommendation for beach speakers. We go to the beach to spend time together and get a little peace. And listen to the waves. 

We don’t go to the beach to listen to music. 

And I don’t assume that others near me on the beach share my obsession with classic rock. 

Check out my book lists to find your next beach read. 

Flip flops 

These are my absolute favorite flip flops. I wear them All. The. Time. And they are so comfortable. None of that annoying pain you can get between your toes. 

And they come in a ton of great colors and styles for both men and women. 

Phone dry bags 

Safely use your cell phone around and even under water with this cell phone dry bag 2 pack. Don’t sacrifice getting some amazing photos and videos just because your phone isn’t waterproof.   

These dry bags are screen touch friendly (but not for fingerprint ID). Fully submersible up to 100 feet.  

Basic personal care items 

Lip balm—I never travel without this lip balm

Basic first-aid items or small first aid kit—in case of minor cuts or scrapes. This compact kit is designed for outdoor excursion like a beach day or day hike. 

Red beach wagon filled with beach accessories
You’ll need something to carry all your beach day gear.

Tote bag 

You also need something to carry all of your stuff to the beach. Enter the L.L. Bean Boat & Tote. I love mine and have been using it for years. 

It’s pretty big, but the large size is plenty big to hold a couple of beach towels, water bottles, snacks, books, etc. And sand brushes off quite easily. 

Beach wagon 

Those with A LOT of stuff to haul to the beach, particularly families with children, may find that a beach wagon is a good option. 

This all terrain wagon has wide wheels to help it roll across soft sand. 

Great snacks to take to the beach 

The best and easiest snacks for the beach are going to be those that travel well (won’t turn to crumb dust) and that don’t require a cooler. 

Of course, if you have a good cooler, then you have more options. You could even pack yourself a lunch or dinner, bring some bottled drinks…whatever! 

Here are a few of our favorite beach day snacks that don’t require a cooler: 

  • Nuts
  • Granola bars
  • Whole or sliced fruit 

Leave no trace after your beach day 

After all of your fun at the beach, including eat those snacks we talked about above, make sure that you take away all of your trash and gear with you. 

Put all trash in a receptacle there at the beach if they’re available or take it with you. 

Depending on which beach you’re visiting, any clothing or gear left behind overnight may be thrown away. 

Final thoughts on what to bring to the beach 

There’s so much fun beach gear to choose from. Prioritize sun protection and keeping hydrated and then have some fun. 

Pack along some yummy snacks and a great beach read and you’re all set for a day of fun in the sun. 

What’s your top beach essential? Add your recommendation in the comments below. 

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what to bring to the beach

Beach day essentials you absolutely need 

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