Are you planning a beach vacation? As a Florida native, I’ve had way more than my share of beach days and I’ve got a few tricks hiding in my beach bag. Let me show you what to pack for the beach!
Whether you’re planning a couples getaway or a family-friendly beach vacation, packing the right stuff can make the difference between a stress-free trip and a thousand mid-vacation trips to Wal-Mart. So let’s talk about what to pack for the beach.
I’ve pulled together this list of beach essentials. From the little things like sunscreen to the big things like sun shades and entertainment, I’ve got you covered with the ultimate beach vacation packing list.
Beach Vacation Packing List
Here are all the things you need to pack for the ultimate beach vacation. From a Florida native!
First up is a roomy beach bag to pack all your gear. I like the mesh sided bags because it makes it easy to find all my stuff, and the sand falls right through so I don't take half the beach home with me. And it's easy to roll this one up to pack in a suitcase too.
For more style choices, check out my favorite beach bags for moms here.
If you don't like the open look of the mesh bag, this canvas tote bag is a great choice too. And it's super cute! Or try a cooler backpack to keep your drinks cold at the same time.
Sunscreen (Lots of it!)
Even after 20+ years in Florida, sunscreen still tops my list of beach day essentials. That summer sun can be scorching hot! I like to have a variety of sunscreens in my beach bag.
I like these spray on sunscreens for quick application (especially with kids), but I also like to have something like this Neutrogena sunscreen for my face. The regular stuff can cause breakouts!
For the kiddo, I always carry one of these sunscreen sticks, which is perfect for his little face. And we are going somewhere that requires reef safe sunscreen, than this Sun Bum lotion is my top pick.
Quick Dry Beach Towels
Even when we stay at a full service beach resort, I still bring along a few of our own beach towels. It's hand to have for when we want to go beaching outside of the hotel, when the hotel runs out of towels, or when I just need more than they want to let me check out! (Yeah, I'm that person that needs two towels for myself.)
These Turkish cotton towels are my personal favorite, and the ones that this beach-loving family uses. We also use them as our everyday pool towels. They're super thin which makes them great for packing and they dry really fast when hung in the sun.
Oh, and they make pretty good picnic blankets, airplane blankets, or tablecloths for picnic tables too! Fore more options, check out all my favorite beach towels here.
Beach Cabana or Umbrella
If you're flying to your beach destination, you might need to rely on the chair and umbrella rentals at your resort. But if you're driving, than it's absolutely worth investing in one of these easy-up beach cabanas.
I use this exact one every single time we go to the local beaches. It's easy to pop open in just a couple seconds, and comes down just as easily. So much easier than dealing with staking an umbrella in the sand!
If you still prefer an old-fashioned beach umbrella, be sure to get one of these wind proof umbrellas with the vents, so you don't spend all day chasing it down the beach!
Another must-have if you're driving to your beach destination. The cost of daily chair rentals can add up really fast, so it's always a great idea to bring your own if you can.
These Eddie Bauer beach chairs have been a popular choice for as long as I can remember - they are just so darn comfy.
If you want something with built in shade, these camping chairs with sunshades are really great too. We use these for taking along to kids sports events when the summer sun is in full swing!
And if you want something for the tiny tushes, my son is a big fan of his kids beach chair.
Okay, okay. You're thinking this is an overkill. And if you're one half of a young child-free couple, then you're probably right. But if you plan on towing a kid or three to the beach with you, you need this beach wagon in your life.
Perfect for loading up all your chairs, toys, floats so you can tote it all across the sand without making multiple trips to your car or hotel room. Also great for towing back tired out kids. ;)
Make sure you get the heavy duty kind with the big, wide wheels. If you get the cheaper one with the skinny wheels, you will NOT be able to pull it though the sand.
For more options, check out our guide to the best beach wagons.
I always like to pack a lightweight swim suit cover up with me in the beach bag. It's much more comfortable than trying to put my shorts and tank top back on over a wet bathing suit just to take a walk to the restrooms (or beach bar).
There are tons of inexpensive choices over on Amazon.
Comfy Flip Flops
As a long time Floridian, I have tested more than my share of flip flops. And I can say with certainty that these Havaiana flip flops are my top pick for the beach,
They're super comfy, come in all kinds of cute colors, and are completely waterproof. I've been wearing the same pair for at least five years now, and they show no signs of getting old!
Beach Sports and Activities
If you're not into simply sitting in a beach chair all day, bring along a few fun beach activities as well. Frisbees are a great choice for both kids and adults. I really like these Active Flyer frisbees - they're easy to catch and really thin, so they're easy to pack too.
If frisbee isn't your thing, pack a beach ball or a fun kite instead!
Packable Floats or Noodles
I don't care how old you are, you're never to old for a swim noodle. We like having some cheap floats or noodles along with us at the beach. And these inflatable noodles are my current fave.
They're so easy to pack, and you just blow them up when you get to the beach. How easy is that?
Packable Beach Toys
If you're taking kids along to the beach, make sure you grab a set of beach toys. You'll be surprised how many hours of entertainment you can get out of a bucket and a couple shovels!
I love the collapsible bucket and carry bag that come with this set. And if you're not keen on packing sandy toys to go home, it's inexpensive enough that you can gift it to another kid on your way out.
You can check out more of the best beach toys for kids here.
Yes, I said cheap sunglasses. Don't bring your expensive, brand name, polarized sunglasses to the beach. Trust me - you will regret it. They will end up with sand caked into the crevices, scratches on the lenses, or maybe at the bottom of the ocean.
Instead, grab a pair of stylish (but under $20) sunglasses to pack for your beach vacation!
Snorkel Mask or Goggles
If there are any fish to be seen at your beach destination, grab yourself one of these snazzy snorkel masks. They are so, so much more comfortable than traditional snorkel gear. And they make a kids version too.
If you prefer a pair of traditional googles, this brand is a good choice. These are the ones we use for the swimming pool!
GoPro or Waterproof Camera
If you've always wanted to splurge on a GoPro, a beach vacation is the perfect time to do it. I love taking mine in the water and on the boat, for fun action shots. If you love the idea, but not the price tag, try one of these cheaper alternatives. It might not be the same quality images, but still lots of fun and great for capturing memories!
Water Bottles (that stay cold!)
One thing is for certain - you will need to pack a lot of water if you plan on spending the day out in the summer sun. So be sure to pack a good reusable water bottle. I've found that nothing stays cold as long as these Yeti water bottles.
I can make myself an iced coffee in one of these, and there is still ice in it hours later. It;s insane. Works pretty well on my vodka sodas too! :)
I love reading at the beach - it's just so relaxing. But I've never liked reading on my iPad screen. The glare from the sun makes it almost unusable. So I picked myself up one of these Kindle devices, which is made to work in the outdoor sunlight. And the new ones are even waterproof!
Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
If you're one of those folks that can't go anywhere without your tunes, you're going to want one of these waterproof portable speakers. This one from JBL is my absolute favorite - it sounds amazing and it's super durable.
Waterproof Headphones or Earbuds
Of course, if listening to music or eBooks is on your agenda, don't forget to throw a set of headphones in the beach bag. I love my waterproof Bluetooth headphones. They're perfect for the beach and pool, and great for the gym too.
If you're on the beach for hours listening to your tunes and browsing those e-books, you are eventually going to need to charge up. Plus, it's nice to know you can charge up your cell phone in case of an emergency.
I have one of these slim portable chargers which fits easily in my beach bag. And when I'm not travelling, I just keep it in my car for emergencies.