Beach Day Essentials You Absolutely Need

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

Key essentials for the beach

  • Reapply water-resistant, high-SPF sunscreen throughout the day, especially after swimming.
  • Protect your eyes with polarized sunglasses that offer UV protection.
  • Use a hat with a sun protection rating of 50+ to shade your face.
  • Stay hydrated, perhaps using an insulated water bottle to keep your water cool.
  • Pack a beach umbrella or tent for shade, and consider sandbag weights for windy days.

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

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!

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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. 

TIP: Keep track of your packing list with this editable travel packing list spreadsheet.

Prefer pencil and paper? Grab the printable blank packing lists.

Water-resistant, high-SPF sunscreen 

A good sunscreen is an absolute must, of course. I’m a big fan of continuous spray sunscreens. Shop my favorite on Amazon. 

If you don’t like spray-on sunscreens, there are great water-resistant lotion sunscreens. Find it on Amazon.

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 reapply your sunscreen several times over the course of the day…especially if you’re in the water a lot.  

Coppertone SPORT Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
  • Easy to Apply: Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Spray has a continuous sprayer for application on any angle, and is easy to apply for quick, even coverage
  • UVA/UVB Protection: Broad Spectrum sunscreen stops up to 98 percent of UVA/UVB rays to combat the effects of sun damage to your skin
  • Water Resistant Sunscreen: Coppertone Sport SPF 50 sunscreen spray is water resistant (80 minutes), and stays on strong when you sweat

Polarized sunglasses with UV protection  

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

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.

Find popular styles on Amazon. 

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 a maximum sun protection rating of 50+. Packable and foldable is a nice option too.

Find a hat here on Amazon

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 like to try Tilley. Buy it here on Amazon

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 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. 

Tommy Bahama Beach Umbrella
  • Durable Fiberglass Frame: Made from fiberglass for strength and stability.
  • Tilt and Telescoping Pole: Adjustable tilt and telescoping pole allows for optimal shade.
  • 7 Foot Diameter: Large 7 foot diameter provides ample shade for outdoor activities.

Tent 

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 on Amazon 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 sandbag weights (buy them on Amazon). 

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.

Find your Yeti on Amazon

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, a mesh storage pocket, and backpack-style straps so you can carry it to the beach while keeping your hands free to carry other things. 

Sale
Tommy Bahama 5-Position Classic Lay Flat Folding Backpack Beach Chair
  • BACKPACK BEACH CHAIR: Provides comfy and convenient seating for all your outdoor adventures including beach or lake…
  • EASY AND SAFE ADJUSTING: Easily adjusts to 5 seating positions including a lay flat position for all-over tanning, and…
  • TOWEL BAR AND STORAGE POUCH: Features a back towel bar that allows you to hang beach towels and a side mesh pouch for a…

Beach towel 

Are there many things better than a large fluffy beach towel? Probably not. I love classic resort-style beach towels that are extra large. They’re perfect for a day of fun on the beach.

Buy beach towels on Amazon

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?

Sand-proof beach mats are specially designed so that any sand that lands on them filters down through but can’t migrate back up again. Pretty cool. 

They often come in a variety of sizes.

CGEAR Sandlite – Patented Sand-Free Beach Mat
  • Sand-Free Life in Sand-Filled Paradise – CGEAR’s Sandlite series features quality construction and the only patented…
  • Patented Two-Layer System – Sandlite’s secret is a precisely engineered system of layered weave that allow sand,…
  • Sized To Your Needs – Small offers plenty of room for one person. Medium is great for couples. Large accommodates up…

Cooler 

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.

Look for a soft-side cooler that is easy to carry, but also rugged enough to withstand getting bashed about some…like this Yeti on Amazon

Yeti also makes backpack coolers that allow you to keep your hands free as you walk to your spot on the beach. 

Buy it on Amazon

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 

Havianas are my absolute favorite flips flops. I wear them All. The. Time. And they are so comfortable. None of that annoying pain you can get between your toes. They come in a ton of great colors and styles for both men and women. 

Havaianas Women’s Slim Flip Flop Sandals
  • Havaianas Slim Flip Flops for Women: A favorite style handcrafted for comfort, style, and durability
  • Soft & Sturdy: Made with 100% high-quality, super soft and durable rubber with a cushioned insole
  • Non-Slip Tread: Slip resistant rice pattern outsole for traction in these flip flops for women

Phone dry bags 

Safely use your cell phone around water and even underwater with a cell phone dry bag (buy it on Amazon).

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 a healing lip balm (buy it on Amazon). 

Hand sanitizer — Because of course you need to clean your hands before you eat the lovely lunch or snacks that you packed. Check the price on Amazon.

Basic first-aid items or a small first-aid kit—in case of minor cuts or scrapes. You can find compact kits on Amazon designed for outdoor excursions 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 big enough 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. You can find wagons that have wide wheels to help them roll across soft sand.

Mac Sports Heavy Duty Collapsible Capacity Outdoor Beach Wagon
  • ROOMY INTERIOR – Large capacity Wagon opens to approx. 31.8 inch L x 21.5 inch W x 17 inch H and sets up in seconds – no assembly required!
  • CONVENIENT COMPACT STORAGE – Wagon folds to Only 9.7″ thick! folded size approx. 31.5″ x 21.5″ x 9.7″ and includes a carry case. Weighs 23.1 pounds
  • LIGHTEN THE LOAD! – The heavy duty frame allows loads up to 150 lbs., and the Durable 600D Fabric can be easily cleaned.

Cup holders

Keep your cold drinks from spilling onto the sand during your fun day at the beach. You can also use beach cup holders for more than just drinks.

Some people use them as a convenient spot for sunglasses when you’re not wearing them. Or you might set your phone there while you head into the water, but you don’t want to lay your phone in the sand.

Check beach cup holder options and prices on Amazon.

Plastic bags (or wet bags)

Add these to your beach vacation packing list. They are a must-have beach essential.

Wet bags are great for toting wet bathing suits. Plastic bags are good for any trash you need to carry away with you at the end of a beach day (remember to leave no trace). I like to reuse the plastic bags from the grocery store for trash.

Check wet/dry bag price on Amazon.

Beach coverups

A beach coverup is one of my essential items. For me, my suit is purely functional. I don’t like lying around on the beach in my suit.

If I’m not in the water, I have my coverup on. It’s perfect for long days on the beach.

Check coverup options and prices on Amazon.

Change of clothes

A change of clothes is also a good idea for your beach essentials list, especially if you’re going to spend an entire day enjoying the surf and sun.

That way you can change into something comfortable and dry (don’t forget those wet bags!) once you’re done in the water.

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 eating 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. 

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2 Comments

  1. When it comes to enjoying a day at the beach, having the right equipment can make all the difference. Whether you’re planning a relaxing sunbathing session or an action-packed beach volleyball game, choosing the best beach equipment is essential for comfort, convenience, and fun.

  2. Love this article! I just recently moved to Florida and seem to forget at least one of these items every time we go to the beach lol

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