The Ultimate Beach Packing List: 17 Essential Items

A straw beach bag, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a sunhat are placed on a white towel on a sandy beach with turquoise water in the background.

Getting ready for a beach vacation? Well, if you are, you’re probably thinking of all the things you need to bring along for the trip. And you’re likely worrying about forgetting something. In that case, you’ve come to the right place; in this post, I’ll go over all the essentials you need to add to your beach packing list for a comfortable, worry-free vacation.

I consider myself a beach bum! I love spending my days at the beach, swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, you name it, I want to do it! In all my time spent on the beach, I realized how important it is to pack properly. Based on my personal experience, I created a FULL beach trip packing list to help you avoid my past mistakes.

Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the beach essentials – from beach bags and sunscreen to water bottles and dry bags, as well as some optional things to bring to the beach, depending on your preference.

Once you go through the list, you can get all the items you don’t have yet and start packing. It’s never too early to start getting ready!

Let’s do our beach plans!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Here’s a quick list of all the essential items you’ll want to pack for the beach:

  • Beach bag
  • Bathing suits
  • Cover-up
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach sandals
  • Water shoes
  • Bug repellent
  • SPF lip balm
  • After-sun lotion
  • Wet wipes
  • Sun hat
  • Dry bag
  • Book / eReader
  • Water bottle
  • Power bank

Read on to get more in-depth info on each item on this list, plus some product recommendations!

17 Essentials to Add to Your Beach Packing List

Before you embark on your beach vacation, you need to make sure you have all the items on this beach essentials list and, more importantly, actually pack them!

1. Beach bag

A colorful tote bag with a flip-flop pattern filled with items including pink flip-flops, sunglasses, a yellow bottle, and a bunny plush toy.
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The first thing you need to pack for any beach trip is, of course, a beach bag. This is the No.1 essential, as this is where you’ll be storing most (if not all) things on this list. Even though you can take any larger bag or backpack with you to the beach, I highly recommend investing in a bag that’s been designed specifically for the beach.

When it comes to beach bags, they offer a lot more than just quirky and fun design; this waterproof beach tote, for example, is large enough to fit all the other beach day essentials, has both front and side pockets, and even has a wet compartment where you can store your wet swimsuit and towels.

2. Bathing suits

Two smiling women in striped swimsuits pose against a wooden fence. One woman wears a sun hat, while the other holds a popsicle.

Swimming is the main reason why we love the beach so much! But you can’t swim without a bathing suit (unless you’re visiting a nudist beach), so you have to get at least a couple of different suits. Pack your go-to bathing suit and another one as a backup in case of an emergency, such as an unexpected tear or accidentally losing your suit.

The bathing suit options are endless, and you can choose the design that best fits your body type. I personally like the selection at Victoria’s Secret – they have various types of swimwear, and you can often get amazing discounts. However, if you’re looking for something more affordable, Target has some great options at lower prices.

3. Cover-up

Person wearing a long, colorful striped cardigan over a white top and denim shorts, with a black shoulder bag and beige high-heeled shoes.
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I always have a hard time deciding what to wear to and from the beach. I don’t want to put on an outfit, and I don’t feel comfortable walking around in my bathing suit – not to mention that some tourist towns don’t allow walking in the streets wearing just swimwear. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a cover-up.

Cover-ups are awesome! Not only will you have the perfect outfit to get to and from the beach, but they also offer sun protection, so you can wear it at the beach if you don’t want to overdo it with sunbathing. And let’s not forget that they look super stylish!

If you don’t already have a cover-up, I suggest you get one before your next beach day; I have a long-sleeved kimono just like this one, and I absolutely love it. It’s super light on my skin and barely takes up any space in my luggage. Plus, the kimono looks so chic, you can even combine it with clothes and wear it on one of your nights out.

4. Towels

A pastel-colored striped towel hangs on a line next to a matching drawstring bag.
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Beach towels are my favorite beach necessities; they come in so many different and cool designs and are much more fun than regular towels. Anyone agree? But besides looking cool, towels are one of the most useful beach necessities – imagine getting out of the water and having nothing to dry yourself. Not ideal, right?

When you’re shopping for beach towels, I recommend you look for quick-dry towels like this one; besides its quick-drying feature, this towel is also sand-free, it comes in a couple of different sizes, and it can be easily stored in the little bag that comes with it. If you have something else in mind, Amazon has a great offer of microfiber beach towels.

5. Sunscreen

CeraVe Hydrating Sheer Sunscreen SPF 30 for face and body, shown with its packaging. Contains 3 fl oz (89 ml). Advertised as blending seamlessly, non-greasy, suitable for sensitive skin, and water-resistant for 80 minutes.
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Sunbathing is super fun – until it’s not. If you’ve experienced sunburn, you know how painful and unpleasant it can be. Hopefully, you’ve already realized the importance of sunscreen (and not just for the beach!), and you stock up before your trip. On my beach vacation checklist, sunscreen is the first thing I check off – and it should be yours, too.

The variety of sunscreens on the market is endless, so you can easily find one that’s right for your skin type and your natural tan. For my beach holidays, I always go with non-tinted sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30; recently, I’ve been using the CeraVe Hydrating Sheer Sunscreen and loving it, but you can do some research and pick one that’ll work well for you.

6. Sunglasses

A pair of hexagonal sunglasses with gold frames and dark lenses viewed from the front.
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Spending your days at the beach means that you’ll be exposed to a lot of sunlight, and your skin is not the only thing that will suffer. Sunlight can cause strain on your eyes, so sunglasses are a must-add to every beach vacation packing list.

I’m guessing you probably own a pair of sunglasses, so make sure to pack them before your trip. Popular tourist resorts usually have shops where you can purchase sunglasses, but they tend to be pricey and of lower quality. When choosing sunglasses for the beach, pick a pair with polarized lenses and a design that best fits your face – I have these!

PRO TIP: Keep your sunglasses in a protective case – if you just drop them in your bag, the sunglasses can break, and the lenses can get damaged, so it’s totally worth purchasing a case.

7. Beach sandals

A pair of black sandals with crisscrossing straps and a side view showing the cushioned insole and breathable design.
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Like any other destination, the beach requires comfortable footwear. Purchasing a pair of high-quality beach sandals (or flip-flops) will do wonders for your comfort level; just imagine not having to worry about the hot sand scorching your feet.

I used to be a flip-flop girl, but last year, I decided to get a pair of simple beach sandals just to see the difference. I got a model quite similar to this, and I was surprised by how good they felt on my feet. Plus, I like the way they look, and they pair well with my casual outfits, so I wear them outside the beach, too.

8. Water shoes

A pair of white, mesh, slip-on water shoes with black soles, one upright and one flexed, is displayed against a white background.
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When talking about things to take to the beach, one of the most overlooked items is water shoes. People (myself included) often forget to pack water shoes and end up hurting their feet when they go into the water (me again)! The solution is super easy and very affordable, so you never have to worry about swimming on pebbly beaches.

Water shoes are widely available, especially during the summer season, and you can get a pair almost anywhere. You can choose from cool and colorful designs; for example, I prefer to feel the water on my feet, so I got a mesh model (these look amazing). Now, I can enjoy my swim without feeling too restricted.

9. Bug repellent

A bottle of Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion, offering 14 hours of protection from mosquitoes and ticks. The bottle is labeled as non-greasy and non-sticky, with 118 ml (4 fl oz) content.
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Summer, sunshine, sand, sea…and bugs! Beach season, in my opinion, would be perfect if not for one tiny thing – the bugs. I don’t like bugs – probably true for most people – and I do everything I can to avoid them. So, before each trip to the beach, I always double-check that I’ve packed bug repellent.

Bug repellent comes in many different forms – you can get a spray, a stick, or a lotion. I really like using lotion – this is a good one – because it isn’t sticky, and you can cover every inch of your skin. You can always get a bug-repellent cream like this Sallye Ander No-Bite-Me cream that’s also great for after-bites.

Whatever type of repellent you opt for, be sure to use it; insect bites can be tricky and you don’t want that to ruin your vacation. I’d also advise you to look for bug repellents that are DEET-free or at least contain a very small percentage of it; this ingredient can cause skin irritation, rash, and other unwanted effects, so it’s best to avoid it.

TIP: before using a bug repellent, check whether you’re allergic to any of the ingredients. It’s also a good idea to do a skin test, i.e., put a small amount of bug repellent on a patch of skin and wait to see if there’s a reaction.

10. SPF lip balm

A packaged tube of Aquaphor Lip Protectant + Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30. The packaging highlights that the product repairs and protects, is recommended by dermatologists, and is fragrance-free and paraben-free.
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We’ve already talked about the importance of sunscreen, but one of the things we often forget about is protecting our lips. The sun and salt water can quickly result in chapped lips, and putting sunscreen on your lips (although possible) is not an ideal solution. This is where SPF lip balm comes into play.

Ever since I’ve been using SPF lip balm, I’ve noticed a significant difference in the way my lips look and feel. Of course, it’s a must-have for beach days, but I also like to use it when I’m spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in the summer months. And if you’re wondering which one to choose, I’d recommend the Aquaphor Lip Repair Lip Balm.

11. After-sun lotion

A bottle of Neutrogena Sun Rescue After Sun Replenishing Lotion with aloe vera and mint extract, offering 24-hour moisturization. The bottle contains 6.7 fl oz (198 ml) of product.
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Getting out of the sun might feel like a good time to stop worrying about your skin. Well, I’m sorry that I have to tell you that the opposite is true. After-sun care is just as important as caring for your skin while you’re exposed to the sun, and by using after-sun lotion, you make sure your skin gets the necessary hydration after a long day in the sun.

There are plenty of after-sun lotions to choose from; my go-to is Neutrogena, and I’ve been using it for years. However, you can choose whatever works best for your skin type. You can also get some aloe vera gel, another great product for after-sun care and a great choice if you want something natural and organic.

12. Wet wipes

A package of Cleanze antibacterial wipes with a clear plastic container and label indicating 48 wipes per pack.
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It may sound ridiculous, but wet wipes are a staple of every packing list for a beach vacation. Whether you need to quickly clean your hands, wipe down a surface, or quickly remove a stain – a wet wipe can do it all!

Even though wet wipes are such a simple thing, they’re one of the things we often forget and don’t really think about them until we need them. Bonus – they’re super affordable and available absolutely everywhere! Just head to your nearest supermarket and grab a couple of packs, or you can always order them online.

13. Sun hat

A woven beige sun hat with a black ribbon is shown against a blue sky background. The image text indicates "UPF 80+ reduces UV rays by >99.9%". Sun rays are illustrated in the background.
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Useful and fashionable – that’s a sun hat! A good sun hat will take you a long way; it protects your face and your eyes from the glare, it can keep your hair in check, and it looks super nice.

Sun hats come in a variety of shapes and sizes; my personal favorite is a simple straw hat with a foldable brim because it’s super lightweight and pairs well with any bathing suit and cover-up. You can try what looks best on you and pick one based on appearances – the only thing that matters is that you’re wearing a hat.

14. Dry bag

A blue patterned wet bag with illustrations of various animals, including koalas, sloths, and cheetahs, and a zippered closure at the top.
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Another very useful thing to add to your beach packing list is a dry bag. Some beach bags have dedicated wet compartments, but in case yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to get a small bag where you can store your wet bathing suit and towel.

You can get a small pouch-like dry bag – this is a good option – and pop it into your beach bag. At the end of the day, you can just pop your wet items inside and not worry about ruining your bag.

15. Book / eReader

A Kindle e-reader displaying the beginning of Chapter 1 in a text, with a green protective cover placed behind it.
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Beach days present the perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading, and bringing a book along is a fun day to spend the day. However, there’s one downside to taking a book to the beach – physical books (i.e., paper books) can easily get damaged by the sun and unwanted splashes of water.

Lucky for us readers, eReaders are a great way to read on the beach. The Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof, and you can adjust the light, so you’ll have no trouble reading in the sun. Better yet, the Kindle can hold thousands of books, so you’ll have endless choices.

16. Water bottle

A black Hydro Flask water bottle with a handle on the lid. The Hydro Flask logo is printed in white on the front.
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Staying hydrated is always important, but especially so when you’re spending your days at the beach. Bringing a reusable water bottle is a great reminder to drink water, and it can also save you money since you won’t need to constantly buy those plastic water bottles.

You may be worried about your water getting warm in your bag, but I recommend you get an insulated water bottle that will keep your drink cool and fresh. I’ve got this Hydro Flask bottle, and it does a great job of keeping my water cold throughout the entire day.

17. Power bank

A sleek, black power bank with a digital display showing "100" and multiple ports for charging devices.
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My final recommendation for your beach packing list is a power bank. Although the beach is the perfect place to relax and have a rest from all our tech appliances, it’s still good to stay connected and keep your phone charged.

While looking into power banks, make sure the one you get is compatible with your phone. Other than that, what kind of power bank you choose is up to you. I’d only suggest getting a fast-charging one that’s compatible with multiple devices – this is one example, but there are plenty of options on the market.

Optional Additions to Your Beach Packing List

Now that we’ve gone through all the essentials, you have a clear idea of what to bring to the beach. However, I couldn’t wrap up this article without including a few more things that you might want to pack for your next beach day.

Beach chairs

A foldable beach chair with an adjustable backrest and striped fabric in red, blue, and light blue.
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On a beach trip, I like to rent one of the sun loungers that are already provided, but I have to admit that this can become pricey. And it can also happen that smaller, unorganized beaches don’t offer sun loungers, so you have no choice but to fend for yourself. If this is a real possibility for your beach trip, then you should get some beach chairs.

Beach chairs can easily replace the fancy sun loungers, and I really like that they’re foldable and easy to transport/carry around. I found this amazing lounge chair that’s a perfect replacement for a sun lounger. Best of all? You only pay for it once instead of paying for a lounger every day.


A colorful rainbow-patterned beach umbrella with a white pole and a screw base for securing in the sand.
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Another thing you’ll be missing if you’re not renting one of the sun loungers is shade, i.e., a beach umbrella. Just like the beach chair, this is a smart investment, and you’ll have it for years to come.

When shopping for a beach umbrella, look for one that has a sand anchor and tilts so you can adjust it according to where the sun is shining. This model has both of those qualities, plus it has a strap so you can strap it across your shoulder and take it to the beach.

Beach blanket

Woman in a green bikini lies on a blue beach blanket with a wide-brimmed hat covering her face. A compact, folded version of the blanket is shown in the lower right corner.
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Leaving your beach towel directly on the sand is not a good idea – you’ll get sand on it, and you won’t be able to dry off later. So, you get a beach blanket. They’re very useful and again, it’s a one-time purchase, so you’ll be saving money in the long run.

I currently don’t have a beach blanket – I got rid of mine last year – and I’ve been researching the options. I’m happy to say that I found a real gem! This WEKAPO Beach Blanket is super large, so you can get just one for your entire group, it’s sand- and waterproof and comes with sand anchors. Plus, it fits in a cute, tiny bag.

Mini cooler / Insulated bags

A blue Coleman cooler with a white lid and a blue handle, designed for keeping food and beverages cold.
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I always like to have a cold drink near me when I’m at the beach. And just like me, you know that beach bars can be pricey, especially if you want to buy a soda or beer (let’s not mention cocktails) every hour. Lucky us, the solution is simple – just take a mini cooler or an insulated bag and stock it up with drinks!

You can always opt for a hard plastic cooler, but I prefer the insulated bags as they’re more lightweight and they usually have pockets. I looked into the different options, and this seems like a good choice – immediately added it to my wishlist!

Beach toys

A mesh bag containing colorful beach toys, including a red bucket, green and blue shovels, and sand molds. A tag labeled "Click N' Play Castle Mold Set" is attached to the bag.
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Taking a trip to the beach with the entire family can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re going with young kids. In this case, you should seriously consider adding toys to your family beach vacation packing list.

To make things easier for yourself, just get a full set of beach toys, and you don’t have to worry about all the different sand buckets and molds that your little one needs to build a sandcastle. But if your kids (or you) are more into spots, you can get some rackets to play beach tennis (they’re crazy expensive at the beach) or get a ball and play some voleyball.

Snorkel gear

A set of pink and black snorkeling gear, including fins, mask, snorkel, and a mesh carrying bag.
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Lastly, if you like spending time underwater, it’s time to get your personal snorkel gear. Finding a place to rent or buy snorkel gear every time can be a nuisance, so it’s just a good idea to get your own equipment and keep reusing it.

I love snorkeling, so I got myself a full set a few years back; it’s very similar to this one, and I use it every chance I get. And if you have a waterproof phone (if not, get a waterproof pouch) you can snap some amazing underwater photos during your snorkeling adventure.

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Tips for packing for the beach

A young girl wearing sunglasses sits at the back of a red car packed with beach items, including a large inflatable ring, a straw bag, and a suitcase, with a beach scene in the background.

Before I let you go, I wanted to share a few more tips on packing for a beach trip:

  • Make a checklist – take everything featured in this packing list and make a checklist; then, just tick things off, one by one.
  • Don’t overpack – there are quite a few things you need for the beach, so don’t bring extras. You don’t need 3 towels and 4 books – keep it simple!
  • No glass containers – whether it’s a water bottle or an after-sun lotion, don’t bring it along if it’s in a glass container. Glass breaks easily, and you don’t want to deal with the mess.
  • Roll the towels – this is my final tip, so I wanted it to be useful. Instead of folding the towels and stacking them up in your beach bag, roll them – it takes up much less space.

FAQs about Beach Packing List

Beach items including a straw hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a starfish, seashell, and a colorful striped towel are arranged on a light blue background with palm leaves.

🏖️ How to prepare for the beach?

The best way to prepare for the beach is to create a packing list and ensure you have everything on the list – if not, do some shopping. Then, make a checklist and check things off as you pack them.

🛍️ What is the best type of bag to bring to the beach?

The best bag to bring to the beach is a waterproof tote bag that can fit all of your other essentials and that you can easily carry around on your shoulder. Ideally, the bag should have a few pockets and compartments, maybe even a wet compartment.

Final words about the ultimate beach packing list

A person wearing headphones sits on a blanket on the beach, looking at their phone, with the sun setting over the ocean in the background.

We’re at the end of the ultimate beach packing list! I hope that this was helpful to you and that you know exactly what to bring on your next beach getaway.

Each of the items featured in this post is a beach essential, so I suggest getting the things you don’t already own and being ready to hit the beach at all times.

Do you have some go-to beach items? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the beach,


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