Last updated June 9, 2022
Here’s what to pack for those sun-kissed beaches—whichever the season.
You can’t beat a beach vacation. Imagine wiggling your toes through warm sand, chasing sunrises and sunsets, setting up a hammock between two palm trees and splashing in the waves.
Aside from the calming cream and tantilizing azure color palette, heading to the beach also comes with health benefits.
Research shows that walking barefoot on beach sand can help your mind reconnect with the vital nerve endings in your feet. Then there’s the sunlight exposure that gives you a good dose of Vitamin D, not to mention Vitamin sea.
But even if you plan to do nothing but lounge around on the beach, packing a swimsuit only doesn’t cut it.
18 Essentials to Pack for Your Next Beach Vacation
Deciding on what to pack for your next beach vacation can indeed be a daunting thought process. It’s different from other kinds of vacations—obviously, you’ve got to be prepared for sun, sand, surf and who knows what else.
We’ve put together an essential list of what to pack for your next beach vacation. Some of these are no-brainers, while others are not so obvious.
1. Loose-Fit Clothing
Packing for a beach vacation means striking a balance between comfort and chic; therefore, when it comes to your choice of outfits, lightweight is the best option.
Sundresses, flowy jumpsuits, linen or soft cotton pants, and cute sandals take you from sand to sightseeing to al fresco dining. If effortless and casual is more your style, athleisure wear makes for versatile pieces that go from yoga to biking to a post-beach nap. Finally, evenings at the beach can be quite chilly—add a lightweight cardigan or shawl to your packing list.
Everyone loves a warm shower after a sand-filled day at the beach, so consider packing a robe (especially if your hotel or resort doesn’t offer this amenity). A lightweight robe is recommended because they dry up quickly for the next day’s use.
3. Beach Towel or Mat
Most resorts provide towels for use, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with packing your own beach towel. Also, bring along a sand-free beach mat—it’s a game changer.
You can usually be assured of one thing on a beach vacation—the sun. If you can bring one item to the beach besides sunscreen, make it a sun hat.
Ideally, broad-brim, bucket or legionnaire hats are the most effective in protecting against UV rays. And when it comes to color, darker colors are the best for sun protection compared to white or pastel. That said, straw hats are generally the most stylish.
5. Lightweight Water Shoes
Quick-drying water shoes are perfect for beach days, especially when walking in tide pools. Water shoes can also protect you from injuring your feet from random sharp pieces of coral or jellyfish stings.
Think ahead when you pack for a beach vacation. There’s nothing like getting salty ocean water in your eyes. Goggles also help protect your eyes from the bright sun plus make swimming much more fun.
7. Tote Bag
Go for an eco-friendly reusable tote bag rather than single-use plastic bag. You’ll need this for shopping, collecting seashells, and packing wet towels and swimsuits to take back to your guest room. A tote bag also doubles as a laundry bag for dirty clothes.
8. Toiletry Bag
A toiletry bag or Dopp kit is one of the most valuable items to pack. Look for bags and/or pouches that are as functional as they are useful—such as ones that hang over the back of the bathroom door or on a towel hook.
9. Insulated Beach Bag
Well-insulated, soft-sided, foldable bags are the best options because they can hold snacks and cold drinks for hours.
10. Aloe Vera
What can we say? It’s for the stubborn folks who refuse to put on a good hat or sunscreen. Or perhaps, you unintentionally forgot to pack it.
Aloe vera products or other cooling gels relieve the pain, itching and peeling that sometimes happen with sunburn. We recommend you go for the non-sticky versions.
You should always pack a tube of sunscreen that’s broad spectrum and claims to block UVA rays as well as UVB. Sunscreen not only protects your skin from sunburn, it minimizes skin damage, too.
12. Insulated Water Bottle
Hydration at the beach is key. Make sure to pack for a beach vacation a reusable water bottle that can keep water cold for long periods.
13. Bug Spray
Do you really need bug spray on the beach? Yes you do. Beaches are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Remember to reapply after you go into the water.
14. Deodorant Wipes
You may not always feel like jumping into the shower after a splashy day at the beach. Deodorant wipes are an excellent alternative to freshen up before your next activity.
15. Device Charger
A portable power bank is your new best friend to ensure that you can capture those beautiful moments and stay in touch with the rest of the world. There’s nothing more disappointing than a low (or no) battery.
16. Phone Case
From experience, nothing spoils beach day fun more than having to search for your phone in the shallow ends of the ocean. A waterproof phone case will keep your phone dry throughout your beach vacation while you’re “playing” in the water.
17. Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Music sounds better when played on speakers. Get yourself a portable, fast-charging and waterproof speaker with good battery life to play your favorites. We recommend wireless speakers because they are easy to pack.
Last but definitely not the least on our what to pack for your next beach vacation: e-books. If you love to read books, chances are you have a book or two you’d love to add to your “I haven’t read this” list. A beach vacation is a good time to hit your reading targets.
We recommend e-books over hardcovers because you won’t need to pack them in a bag. Plus, you can download as many e-books as you want online without having to worry about lugging them around.
About the author: Brian Wallace loves to travel and experience the world. In fact, one of his life goals is to visit every country in the world. After being cooped up at home for a few months, Brian started journaling about his previous adventures and discovered his love for writing. These days, Brian writes articles relating to the travel industry that he hopes others might find informative and interesting.