Summer is the perfect time to unwind and if you’re planning a beach vacation, you want to make sure you don’t forget any beach bag essentials that will make your trip more comfortable and fun.
As you dream of walking along the shoreline, swimming in crystal clear waters, and relaxing under the sun, use this beach vacation packing list to ensure you don’t overlook key items that will protect you from the elements and enhance your seaside adventure.
Preparing for a beach vacation involves more than just picking out the right swimsuit and sunscreen. To ensure you have a truly perfect beach experience, packing the right essentials in your beach bag is a must.
This packing list focuses on the top 5 items you absolutely need for a beach vacation, from sun protection to beach gear and footwear. Bring these beach vacation essentials along and you’ll be set for a sun-kissed, memory-making getaway. I already presented what to wear during the summer in Europe, so this guide adds even more details.
The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List: Top 5 Beach Bag Essentials You Can’t Forget
1. Sunscreen: Your Skin’s Best Friend
Sunscreen is hands down the most important item on any beach vacation packing list. The sun’s rays can quickly burn and damage your skin, especially if you spend all day outdoors by the water.
Pack plenty of broad spectrum SPF 30 (or higher – I use SPF 50) sunscreen and remember to reapply it throughout the day, even if the formula is waterproof.
Pro Tip: Choose a water-resistant sunscreen if you plan on taking a dip in the ocean. Look for options that are also reef-safe to protect the marine ecosystem.
Aim for about an ounce of sunscreen per body application. If you’ll be at the beach for a week, pack a large bottle so you don’t run out.
Spray sunscreens are convenient for quick coverage (I admit I am a fan, after discovering them.) Stick or cream sunscreen works well for targeted application on your face. Tinted sunscreen offers light coverage while protecting your skin.
Don’t forget sunscreen for your lips too. Lip balm with SPF 15 or higher will prevent painful sunburn. Reapply it often after eating, drinking, or swimming.
Wide-brimmed hats and UV protection shirts/coverups will provide additional sun defense. Don’t skimp on the sunscreen though – it’s your first line of defense!
2. Waterproof Beach Bag: Keep Everything in One Place
Nest on this ultimate beach vacation packing list is the waterproof beach bag, a must for carrying all your essentials to the shore while keeping them safe, clean, and dry. Standard bags won’t cut it since they could get soaked by water bottles leaking or a sudden change in weather at the beach.
Look for a high-quality beach bag made of PVC or polyester fabric with strong waterproof sealing. It should be large enough to hold several beach towels, sunscreen, snacks, books, change of clothes, and other items you need. A 20L-30L capacity is ideal for most beachgoers.
Make sure the beach bag has comfortable shoulder straps for easy carrying. Outside pockets are great for accessing small items quickly. A waterproof phone case integrated into the bag protects your cell from water damage. Consider a beach bag in a bright color so it’s easy to spot.
Some beach bags are designed as backpacks for even easier mobility. Or choose an oversized tote with reinforced handles that can slide over your shoulder when needed. A waterproof beach bag will be your lifesaver for keeping valuables dry!
3. Beach Towel: Comfort and Relaxation
No beach trip is complete without beach towels! Pack them into your waterproof bag and use them to dry off from swimming, lounge on the sand, and have a makeshift picnic at the shoreline.
Standard bath towels are too bulky and won’t dry quickly after getting wet. Opt for special quick-dry microfiber beach towels that are ultra lightweight and absorbent. They take up less space in your bag too.
Look for oversized beach towels approximately 35″x 60″- big enough to wrap around your body or lay on comfortably. Darker colors like blue or green hide sand better than white or light towels. Having a couple of colorful prints adds fun flair.
Some beach towels come with pillows or hoods for cushioned comfort. Consider a towel made with silver ion fabrics, which have natural antimicrobial properties to inhibit odor and germs.
Pro Tip: Consider bringing an extra towel to use as a makeshift sunshade or to keep your beach essentials sand-free. Pack 2-4 beach towels per person (we pack 2 per person) so you always have a dry one ready.
4. Water Shoes: The Accessory You Didn’t Know You Needed
While bare feet are great on the beach, water shoes are important for protecting your feet when entering the water or doing any coastal activities like tidepooling. And yes, they can be an often overlooked accessory, that is why this is your best beach vacation packing list.
The ocean floor can be rocky or littered with shells and debris that could cut your feet. Water shoes allow you to comfortably walk into the surf or cruise along a rocky coastline.
Water shoes have thick, textured rubber soles to prevent slipping on slick terrain. Look for a fully closed-toe and heel design to keep your feet protected. A stretchy upper material like neoprene contours to your feet for a flexible, secure fit.
Make sure water shoes have good drainage so seawater easily flows out. Tested traction is key for navigating slippery surfaces. Consider quick-drying mesh water shoes you can wear out of the water too.
For the beach, water shoes in bright colors add a fun flair. Choose a pair with adjustable straps for a customized fit.
If you plan to use water shoes for water sports like kayaking or snorkeling, prioritize foot protection and non-slip soles over style. Don’t forget the water shoes or your beach adventure can be cut short!
Recommendation: Always pack beach shoes too. You may like to feel the sand under your feet (so do I), but sometimes the sand is so hot that it burns!
5. Rash Guard Shirt: Perfect Item for People with Sensitive Skin
Rash guards are stretchy, lightweight shirts that provide sun protection, make swimming more comfortable, and prevent chafing from activities like surfing or snorkeling.
Made from materials like spandex, nylon, and polyester, rash guards block 98% of harmful UV rays while their tight fit won’t inhibit movement.
Wearing a rash guard over your swimsuit helps avoid sunburn on your back, shoulders, and torso while swimming or paddling. The shirt can protect skin irritated by chafing from a life jacket or surfboard. Rash guards also conserve body heat in cool water temperatures.
Look for long-sleeved rash guards for the most sun protection. Rash guards come in different styles for both men and women.
Bold prints and colors are popular. Or opt for a basic solid color. The stretchy material dries quickly out of the water.
Rash guards provide children with great sun protection while playing on the shore. Get the whole family matching rash guard shirts!
They also prevent painful scraping or irritation from skin contact with boards and water equipment. Rash guards are must-have versatile shirts for any beach lover!
6. Hydration Essentials: Stay Refreshed
Spending hours under the sun can lead to dehydration, so having the right hydration essentials in your beach bag is crucial.
Alongside your regular water bottle, pack some electrolyte-rich drinks to replenish lost minerals. I always have such drinks or water + pills/rehydration solutions and I consider them to be among the most important things you need for a beach day.
A reusable water bottle not only helps the environment but also keeps your drinks cold for hours. Freeze a portion of your water the night before to ensure a refreshing sip throughout the day.
Pro Tip: Infuse your water with slices of citrus fruits or refreshing mint leaves to add a burst of flavor. You can also use cucumber – I am partial to lemon or mint, I admit.
7. Beach Entertainment: Fun Under the Sun
While the sound of waves crashing is music to the ears, having some beach entertainment can add an extra layer of enjoyment to your vacation.
Pack a good book, a Bluetooth pair of headphones (I cannot endorse portable speakers as other people might not like what you want to listen to) for your favorite tunes, or even a frisbee for some beachside fun.
Don’t forget a waterproof case for your smartphone to capture those picture-perfect moments without worrying about sand or water damage.
Please try to use eco-friendly beach entertainment options like biodegradable beach balls to minimize your environmental impact. Never leave anything behind and remember to not disturb other people at the beach.
8. Beach Accessories: Practical and Stylish
If you were to ask me what to pack to the beach, I would definitely add to the list some interesting beach accessories.
In fact, accessorizing for the beach is not just about style; it’s about functionality too. A wide-brimmed hat offers shade for your face and protects your scalp from the sun.
Sunglasses with UV protection shield your eyes from harmful rays. A sarong or a stylish beach cover-up can provide extra sun protection while adding a touch of flair to your beach ensemble.
Recommendation: Choose accessories with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to enhance your sun protection strategy.
9. Extra Clothes – Especially for Children
I love my son. I have to pack an extra set of clothes for him as he always (really, always!) manages to get the first set wet. The best I can hope for is to only need a part of the set (pants or t-shirt) – but I have to be prepared.
Beach Vacation Essentials: Stay Protected and Have Fun
What do you need for a beach trip? This is the question I tried to provide an answer to and, as you can see, there are many items you need in your beach bag.
A beach getaway, whether it is on the French Riviera, the Gulf of Mexico, or Australia promises to relax in the sun, swim in refreshing waters, and enjoy gorgeous coastal scenery. Pack the nine essential items on this beach vacation packing list, and you can make the most of your time at the shore without hassle.
Don’t get burned – load up on sunscreen, shades, and protective beach attire. Keep your valuables clean and dry with a sturdy waterproof bag. Enjoy the beach and water comfortably with quick-dry towels and water shoes. These simple but important items will set you up for the perfect beach vacation.
With your bags packed full of beach gear, all that’s left is anticipating the sea breeze blowing through your hair as you sink your toes into soft sand. The breaking waves rolling in, the cries of gulls overhead, and the warmth of the summer sun await you. Spend lazy days building sandcastles, grilling kabobs at sunset or just reading a book under your umbrella.
At night, relax around a beach bonfire roasting marshmallows and sharing stories as the stars come out. Or step into nearby beachside towns full of seafood shacks, ice cream parlors and carnival-style boardwalks. However you choose to spend your long sunny days by the sea, the right beach vacation supplies will keep you comfortable and safe.
Soak up the stunning seascapes and make special memories with loved ones. By preparing the beach vacation essentials on this beach packing list, you can fully embrace the magic of the shoreline without limitations.
Remember that a little preparation goes a long way in ensuring that you not only have fun but also stay safe and comfortable during your beach getaway. So, grab your beach bag, pack these essentials, and get ready to soak up the sun while creating unforgettable memories.