Beach Packing List: 75 Essentials For Everyone & Every Trip

A woman in a blue and white sleeveless sundress standing on the beach and looking over her right shoulder with the Golden Gate Bridge behind her, showcasing some items from our beach packing list.

Published on: September 6, 2023

Take the stress out of packing with my ultimate beach packing list for your next beach day or tropical vacation.

Looking for a free beach packing list? I’ve got you covered. 

You’re probably looking forward to your upcoming beach time and relaxation.

But your level of zen may waver based on the type of beach you’re heading to, the length of your beach trip, how many people are joining you…and so forth. 

One way to guarantee relaxation is to make a sufficient beach packing list. 

I’ve gone on my fair share of beach trips and beach vacations, and I’ve always felt that I prepared well. 

So, I put together the ultimate beach packing list that will have you covered for what to bring to the beach in any circumstance. 

My packing list for beach vacations serves as a to-do list ahead of your trip. 

Gathering all the beach necessities before your next beach vacation will make your beach days that much more leisurely.  

Whether these items are a given or something you haven’t considered before, check off each one that’s applicable to you and your needs!

Here’s my printable beach packing list based on my experience at beaches from North Carolina to Italy.

Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

A young couple cuddles and laughs as they sit on a blue and white polka-dotted blanket on the sand, with several bags, a travel chessboard, and a water bottle spread out around them.

Beach Clothes and Accessories

A woman wearing a bright orange top with a floral-printed sarong skirt stands with one hand on her hip next to a low stone wall overlooking a tropical, turquoise sea.
Bathing Suit for WomenBathing Suit for Men
Rash Guard for WomenRash Guard for Men
Polarized SunglassesAthletic Sun Hat
Straw Sun HatKids’ Sun Hat
Swim DiapersSarong
Swimsuit Cover UpBeach Wind Breaker
Floaties 

Read our guides to the best sustainable swimwear brands and best surf bikinis.

Beach Gear

A man wearing a black hoodie and black swim trunks seen from behind walking across a wooden footbridge with a soft-sided cooler slung over his shoulder.
Beach ChairsBeach Bag
Dry BagBeach Cart 
Portable Table Beach Blanket
Beach TowelsMicrofiber Beach Towels
Beach Cooler Rolling Beach Cooler
Portable Ice PacksBottle Openers
Can CoolersBeach Umbrella
Beach TentSeashell Collecting Bags
Seashell Identification BookFrisbee
KiteBeach Game
Portable Chess and CheckersSand Toys
Outdoor Volleyball SetSnorkel Gear 
Kids Snorkel GearBeach Floats
Floating Island

Read our guides to the best Yeti alternatives, the best ice packs for coolers, and the best coolers for camping.

Beach Shoes & Footwear

A man in a blue button-down and yellow shorts looks back over his shoulder while holding a pair of flip-flops on the beach with an orange and grey sunset behind him.
Flip FlopsWater Shoes
Beachwear Espadrilles SandalsBeach Running Sneakers

Read our guide to the best waterproof walking shoes and the best water shoes for kayaking (that also work well for the beach!)

Toiletries

Close-up on a woman's arm holding a bottle of sunscreen as she applies the lotion with her other hand, a tropical beach in soft-focus in the background.
Reef Safe SunscreenAloe Vera
After Sun LotionMakeup Remover Wipes
BB CreamOn-the-Go Razor
Waterproof BandaidsBug Spray
Hand SanitizerWet Wipes
Baby WipesLip Balm
Hair Protecting SprayHair Brush
2-in-1 Shampoo and ConditionerDetangler

Other Things For the Beach

A hand holds up a sandwich wrapped in brown paper labeled, "salami and coppa sandwich" with a beach in the background.
Water BottlePortable Fan
Portable SpeakerPortable Charger
Waterproof Phone CaseWaterproof Camera
GoProBook
HeadphonesSnacks
Reusable BagsReusable Trash Bin
First Aid KitAdvil
Insect or Jellyfish Sting Swabs

What Should I Bring on a Beach Day Trip?

Of course, my beach day packing list is shorter than my entire beach vacation checklist. 

That being said, there are certain things to bring to the beach no matter how long you plan to stay. Let’s talk about the components of any essential beach packing list.

Sun Protection

A pair of blue tents pitched on a sparsely-populated beach, with beach grass in the foreground.

First and foremost: don’t forget sun protection. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a cute sun hat.

Wearing sunscreen is important for protecting your skin from sun exposure and sunburns.

Some form of sunblock should be the first thing in your beach bag.

I burn easily, so I always opt for a rub-in lotion over a spray or mist. Coral Isles is my go-to reef-safe sunscreen– I want to do all that I can to protect our coral reefs from bleaching.

Reef-safe sunscreens don’t contain coral-damaging chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and parabens. 

Along with sunscreen, I throw in small items like SPF lip balm and hand sanitizer.

Note: Remember to account for the travel size requirements if you’re traveling via airplane (less than or equal to 100 ml/3.4 oz in volume). Otherwise, you’ll need to make a pit stop once you’ve arrived at your special beach destination.

Drinking Water

A hand holds a pink water bottle against a light brown backpack with an overcast beach in soft-focus in the background.

If there’s anything I want you to take away from what you should bring to the beach, it’s sunscreen and a water bottle. 

We talked about protecting your skin with sunscreen. Now it’s time for water.

Having water on hand combats a variety of potential problems, like dehydration and heat exhaustion. 

Staying hydrated also helps you recover from long hours in the sun and keeps your skin hydrated.

The hot sun does make it hard to keep your water cold, but it’s important to drink from your water bottle, no matter the temperature. 

Luckily, you can keep water cold with an insulated reusable water bottle like a Hydroflask or Cirkul Bottle

Remember to bring an extra bottle of water and a dish if your dog is coming along for the adventure!

My Secret Tips

A woman in a blue and white sleeveless sundress walking with her feet in the water on the beach with the Golden Gate Bridge behind her.

I try to learn from my previous vacations. Here are a few of my secret items that I carry: 

Contacts

If you wear contacts like me, bring an extra pair. You never know if one will get messed up while swimming (been there, dealt with that). 

Hair Protection

I also color my hair, so a heat protection spray that protects hair from sun damage is a great idea. It also helps keep the color in good condition. 

Bug Spray

Speaking of spray–I always bring bug spray. Sometimes bugs or gnats surprise you on the beach and come out of nowhere…I’m personally not a fan.

On that note, research what wildlife might be at the beach you’re going to. 

Sting Swabs

I recently found out you can purchase insect sting swabs

This would have been helpful when my friend got stung by a jellyfish during one of our beach trips in North Carolina…or when I was stung by a bee in New Hampshire.

Rash Guard

I’m sensitive to the sun, and sunscreen wears off. I always bring a rash guard to prevent burning when I’m in and out of the water. 

Water Shoes

I also bring water shoes if I’m going to a rocky beach. Bruises from pointy stones are painful, and I get unbalanced trying to tiptoe across the rocks.

Portable Speaker

Everyone loves the person who remembers their portable speaker.

Reusable Bags

Pack snacks using reusable bags–after all, we’re trying to keep this beach clean!

Choosing Your Perfect Beach Bag

A woman seen from a distance, walking on a sparsely-populated beach, carrying five tote bags.

Okay, we’ve talked about a handful of helpful beach items–but as you probably realize, there are plenty more. Consider how you want to transport them all…

Help yourself out by choosing a big beach bag with lots of space. 

Beach Tote

I like carry-all totes that I can drop everything into. This tote, in particular, is perfect. It has a classic striped pattern and outer pockets to keep your sandals.

Backpacks

I recommend backpacks if you’re bringing a beach chair or larger beach items because of the hands-free carrying.

When it comes to keeping your items dry inside that bag, you have a variety of options. 

Sometimes, I use a waterproof phone case that I can take straight into the water for underwater videos. 

But other times, I put my cell phone and important belongings into a dry bag. Then, I take pictures with a waterproof camera like a GoPro.

You know yourself best–maybe you need all of the precautions: a waterproof phone case and a dry bag!

Curious about dry bags? Read our guide to the best dry bags for kayaking and the best waterproof duffel bags.

How Do You Pack for 7 Days at the Beach?

A woman in a magenta one-piece swimsuit seen from behind looking out over a low stone wall at the turquoise waters of a tropical beach.

A seven-day beach vacation packing list requires more planning and thought, but it doesn’t have to be daunting.

My beach packing list for a week of fun is more comprehensive than my normal beach packing list. 

Instead of daytime necessities, now we’re talking about changes of clothes and outfits suitable for sunrise beach walks and seaside dinners. 

Planning ahead instead of tossing stuff into a bag on Friday night makes each day that much better. 

Consider what you want your setup to look like–do you prefer beach chairs, or are you okay with sitting on a beach blanket for multiple days? 

When I head somewhere for an extended stay, I take all the beach gear, from items I’ll need on the beach to after-sun products. 

Beach Gear

I take everything that is normally in my beach bag, plus larger items like chairs, a snack table, an umbrella, and a cooler.

After all, there’s nothing like napping in comfortable beach chairs under the shade of a beach umbrella. 

Clothes

If you’re going on an extended beach vacation, it’s a good idea to bring at least one swimsuit cover-up

A bathing suit and flip-flops are suitable for the beach itself, but cover-ups and a change of clothes are more appropriate if you’re heading to any other activity or a restaurant for dinner.

I know– clothes take up extra space in your beach bag or carry-on…but wet clothes feel heavy and cold when you’re not on the beach. 

Plus, bringing a cover-up or change of clothes with you means you don’t need to rely on going back to the hotel room to change.

Pre-Trip Double-Check

Before leaving home, I do one last check of the beach essentials. A beach weekend away or seven-day stay is the perfect time to restock. 

If the sunscreen is empty, buy a new one. Same with sting swabs, lip balm, and anything else that runs out. 

Right before a big trip is also the best time to upgrade things like ice chests, beach chairs, and towels

Maybe you can even spring for a cute new swimsuit or snorkel for the kids.

How Do I Not Overpack on a Beach Vacation?

A group of five people seen from behind, walking on the beach towards the water, overloaded with bags and gear.

As an over-preparer who always wants to have everything on hand, I know how much of a challenge it can be to pack light. 

Ultimately, you will have to weigh what matters most to you. 

Items like sunscreen and water are necessary. Bathing suits, towels, and lightweight clothing are a given as well. 

I try to help myself save space by bringing travel-size creams, shower products, and medicine. 

Items like a beach chair are a bonus, but many of us beach lovers are content with beach blankets.

While I prefer a plush beach towel, sometimes I’ll take a thin microfiber sand-resistant beach towel to save room.

Also, factor in what type of beach you’re going to. 

Sure, a rocky beach is usually sand-free, but you’ll probably need water shoes slim enough to fit in your beach bag or (carry-on if you’re flying there). 

These little things are easy to overlook, so help yourself out by planning ahead of time.

Is There Anything You Should Add to the Packing List for Your Beach Vacation with Family?

A POV shot of a hand holding a kindle displaying the first page of a book, a pair of legs lounging on a beach chair and a beach in soft-focus visible beyond.

My beach packing list for family trips includes the essentials of any day at the beach but supersized. 

After all, you’ll have more hands to help carry things like a beach umbrella or beach cooler.

All-inclusive resorts or a fully stocked vacation rental will provide beach towels.

If it’s easy and you have the space, throw an extra cheap pair of flip-flops or sunglasses in your beach bag. 

I found that on a family beach vacation, someone always loses a shoe or steals their sibling’s pair…

I’d also plan on either one communal wet swimsuit bag or having each person bring their own. No one wants to get stuck carrying a wet swimsuit without a waterproof bag, let alone multiple.

Always keep additional sun protection in mind. 

If you’re heading for the beach with multiple family members, a bottle of sunscreen is going to run out much faster than you may expect (speaking from experience). 

Aaaaand aloe vera. I know from my own family beach trips that some of my family members were convinced they wouldn’t get sunburnt. 

Then, I was always the one handing over the tube of aloe vera when they showed up red later that day…

Depending on the ages of your family members, consider bringing beach toys or an underwater camera. 

No matter what age you are, in-person entertainment is better than scrolling on your cell phone, which could overheat.

And remember, everyone has different interests! 

I’m personally not a huge fan of water sports or searching for marine life, so you probably won’t find me with snorkel gear on. 

You’ll find me on the beach blanket with a book

However, I have family members who love playing beach tennis and skidding into the surf with boogie boards–so I make sure to think through everyone’s interests when making a family beach vacation packing list. 

What Should You Put on the Beach Packing List for a Couple?

A couple laughs as they sit facing each other on a beach blanket, sharing a bottle of champagne and a take-out pizza, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

The key to packing for a couple’s beach trip is turning up the romance and showing your partner that you know what they like.

That being said, if you are going on a couple’s beach vacation, consider bringing specific items related to your relationship. 

Maybe you and your partner enjoy the same type of beverage or share a favorite beach pastime (e.g. volleyball, bocce, reading, portable board game).

Find little ways to feel connected to one another! Share one large beach blanket instead of two individual beach towels. 

Talk through the packing list with your partner ahead of your trip so you can focus on each other once at your romantic beach destinations.

Double-check that you’re both packing appropriate clothes for your activities.

This is especially important if you’re going on a honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary with a nice dinner. 

Some restaurants may have a dress code where sandy flip-flops won’t fly.

You can also surprise them with a new accessory to use on your beach trip, like a hat or cover-up. Or go the homemade route by coordinating a beach picnic. 

If nothing else, set aside time for a long walk up and down the shore. 

What Do You Need on the Beach Packing List for a Toddler?

A tropical beach crowded with beach umbrellas seen from above in late-afternoon sunlight.

Your beach trip packing list with a baby or toddler is going to look similar to your family beach vacation packing list 

Here are additional beach essentials for toddlers:

Beach Toys

Keep toddlers occupied for hours with a sand castle set. Just make sure there are enough mini shovels for everyone.

Water Shoes

No one enjoys hot sand that burns your feet, especially toddlers. To avoid the fuss, ensure they have shoes or water shoes on (if you can get them to keep the shoes on, that is).

Kid’s Sunscreen

The last thing you’ll want is for your toddler to get a sunburn, so make sure to wear sunscreen that’s 50 SPF or higher. 

I suggest sunblock sticks (shaped like lip balm) for easy application if your toddler is fussy.

Sun Hat

Get them a kids’ sun hat. Once again, it may or may not be hard to get them to keep it on, but you’ll be grateful to have it.

Rash Guards

Rash guards are an extra level of protection. They also help if you’re heading somewhere with slightly cold water.

First Aid Kit

Because we all know how clumsy toddlers can be, bringing a first aid kit will be a good idea. 

Waterproof Bandaids

Maybe bring waterproof bandaids as well because the standard kits will likely have regular ones inside.  

Spill-Proof Cup

On that clumsy note–make sure to bring a spill-proof cup for your toddler. Fresh water is valuable when far from the nearest beach stand or your accommodation. 

The commotion of a beach day with kids will make it all too easy for an open cup to be knocked over. 

Floaties

Bring floaties for safety if you plan on playing in the water. Toss them in the bag even if you don’t plan on taking them into the waves. 

Water wing floaties are flat to pack, quick to inflate, and add peace of mind.

Snacks

Make sure to have snacks for toddlers or kids. You can never go wrong with granola bars and juice boxes. 

Trash Bag

Just make sure to have some form of trash container with you for all the snack wrappers.

There you go–all the beach essentials you’ll need for your next beach vacation. Grab your flip-flops and beach towel. It’s time for some sun!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Monroe Dziersk smiling as she poses high up above the skyline

Monroe Dziersk

Monroe Dziersk is a twenty-something American who has lived in the USA, Italy, and Czechia. A self-proclaimed Europhile, she has a passion for international education, traveling, and becoming a global citizen, having visited more than twenty countries. You can often find her accompanied by a good book and her calico cat.


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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.

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