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!
Need help planning your beach trip vacation? Check out our list of the essential travel planning resources.
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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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They often come in a variety of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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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