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. 

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. See disclaimer.

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 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 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 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. 

Free Packing Lists. Get the 5 essential packing lists that every traveler needs. Download today.

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+. 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. 

Find the perfect beach umbrella on Amazon.


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 sand bag 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, 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. 

Find it on Amazon here.

Beach towel 

Are there many things better than 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.

Find one here on Amazon


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 softside 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. 

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

Find your perfect flip flops here on Amazon.

Phone dry bags 

Safely use your cell phone around and even under water 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 price on Amazon.

Basic first-aid items or small first aid kit—in case of minor cuts or scrapes. You can find compact kits on Amazon 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. 

You can find wagons that have wide wheels to help it roll across soft sand (check price on Amazon here)

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 bag (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. And 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 re-use 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 laying 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 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. 

Free Packing Lists. Get the 5 essential packing lists that every traveler needs. Download today.

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what to bring to the beach

Beach day essentials you absolutely need 


  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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