The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List

Finalizing a beach vacation packing list requires a slightly different strategy than other kinds of trips: For one, preventative measures like sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are non-negotiable. Then there’s the sand, the wet clothes, and the keeping-kids-happy, if you’re traveling with young ones, to factor in. Before you jet off on your next beach vacation, be it to Miami, Maui, or the Maldives, consult our ultimate beach vacation packing list below—it’s filled with all the essentials (including some you might not have thought of yet), from a waterproof tech bag that’ll protect your cell phone and a lightweight portable speaker to play your favorite summer songs to a packable cooler that will keep your lunch and beverages cold all day long.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

Beach trip essentials:

Clothing & shoes


Skincare & beauty


Beach gear

Lightweight clothing

When it comes to choosing which clothes to pack for a beach vacation, less is more. More often than not, you’ll find yourself in comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that can be reworn throughout the weekend or week by the beach. We recommend packing lightweight pieces of clothing like an oversized button-down and breathable linen pants or shorts, which can be worn on the beach or out to dinner.

Everlane The Linen Relaxed shirt

Quince European linen shorts

J.Crew Baird McNutt Irish linen shirt

Banana Republic linen pull-on pant

Everlane The Linen Easy Short

Read more: Summer clothing essentials for travelers

Bathing suits

A bathing suit is a must-have on nearly any summer vacation, but it’s not always the easiest thing to shop for. Swimsuits are often too constricting or don’t provide enough support. Some of our favorite (and most flattering) swimsuits come from Solid & Striped and Left on Friday. They offer a variety of styles to choose from, including classic one-pieces and high-waisted sets with plenty of coverage. For men’s swim trunks, we recommend Rhone and Todd Snyder for options that are as stylish as they are comfortable.

Solid & Striped The Anne-Marie Ribbed one piece

Left on Friday Sunday top and Hi Tide bottom

Todd Snyder Riviera swimsuit

Read more: The best women’s bathing suits and the best men’s swim trunks


After taking a dip in the water, you’ll want to throw on a lightweight cover-up. The sarongs, pool skirts, and breathable button-downs below are easy to put on even when you’re still damp, and can be worn to lunch or the beach bar. If you’ve spent a little too much time in the sun, the best cover-ups will keep your skin protected while still feeling breezy. Plus, these all take up very little packing room—roll them up tightly then toss them in your beach tote when you arrive.

Summersalt The Ruched Swim Skirt

J.Crew Linen-cotton blend beach shirt

Read more: The best beach cover-ups for women

Comfortable sandals

The next non-negotiable for a day at the beach is a comfortable sandal that you can easily slip on and off. These packable sandals from OluKai and Rothy’s are a more elevated take on the classic flip-flop and take up very little room in a carry-on. For a touch more support, Rothy’s The Weekend Slide has a slightly thicker sole and crisscross straps to keep your foot secure and supported—even when you’re walking on uneven sand.

Rothy’s The Weekend Slide

Read more: The most comfortable walking sandals

Water shoes

Water shoes are just the thing for traversing rocky patches of the beach. They also are a game changer for exploring tide pools. The traction helps you feel secure and grounded, while also protecting your feet from jagged edges and sharp objects. Our favorite pairs include these quick-drying Vifuur shoes; for something a little more stylish, Reef sandals are comfortable to walk in all day long and you don’t need to worry about getting them wet.

Vifuur water sports quick-dry shoes

Xero Shoes Aqua x sport warer shoes

Sun hat

Grab a hat for you and ones for your family members, too: They’ll block out more sun than glasses alone and keep your scalp from getting burned. You could opt for a chic straw hat or a sporty cap if you want to tie your hair up. Another trendy favorite you can’t go wrong with: the beloved bucket hat.

J.Crew textured summer straw hat

J.Crew packable straw hat

Banana Republic wide brim beach hat

Lululemon Fast and Free ponytail running hat

Read more: The best sun hats for hot summer days

Beach tote

One thing’s for sure—you’ll need a beach tote to carry all of your essentials down to the sand. If you’re going for the coastal grandmother vibe, pack a straw tote bag like the ones below from Free People or Banana Republic. If you need room to pack snacks, drinks, and a beach blanket for the whole family, Lululemon’s 20-liter tote or RTIC’s insulated bag have you covered. For something a little more simple, our editors adore the Boat and Tote bag from L.L.Bean—it’s a classic for a reason.

Lululemon Daily Multi-Pocket Tote Bag, 20-liter

RTIC Everyday Insulated Tote Bag

Free People Mega Jute Tote Bag

Banana Republic Paper Straw Shopper Bag

Read more: The best tote bags and the best beach bags

Reusable bags

A reusable shopping bag will come in handy on many occasions. You can drop in odds and ends on your way to the beach or stash water sport accessories without schlepping another full-size tote around. On the way home, use them to wrap up dirty clothes or still-damp suits.

Kate Spade New York reusable shopping tote

Aloha Collection Monstera Max Pouch

Aloha Collection Tropics Small Pouch

Swim goggles

For more fun (and comfort) underwater, grab a few pairs of goggles, like this classic pair from Speedo. They’re not meant for deep diving, but they’ll come in handy in the pool and in shallow ends of the ocean.

Speedo Futura swim googles

Speedo adult swim goggles

Speedo child swim googles


One item you don’t want to forget for a day at the beach: A pair of sunglasses. These polarized frames from Quay are sleek and lightweight; if you’re prone to leaving glasses behind accidentally, the under-$20 pair from Sojos are equally as chic. And of course you can’t go wrong with a classic pair of aviators or round frames from Ray-Ban.

Ray-Ban Aviator Classic sunglasses

Ray-Ban Round Metal sunglasses

Quay Polarized Sweet Dreams

Sojos Retro Oval sunglasses

Waterproof jewelry

You probably don’t want to wear your nicest pieces of jewelry to the beach—the thought of losing something special in the ocean or becoming discolored after a dip in the pool is enough reason to leave it at home. Instead, opt for some affordable waterproof jewelry, like the earrings and necklaces below from Hey Harper. They’re designed with a thin-film coat that can withstand exposure to chlorine, saltwater, hand soap, and other elements that might cause tarnishing—so you don’t have to worry about removing them before getting in the water.

Hey Harper Bella earrings

Hey Harper Moana necklace

Read more: How to take care of jewelry on vacation

Dopp kit

A roomy Dopp kit will hold all your travel necessities: sunscreen, a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, contact solution or eye drops, a razor, shampoo, conditioner, and body and face wash. If you want to stay extra organized, opt for Calpak’s spacious cosmetic case—there are two separate compartments and it’s clear, so you can quickly spot what you need.

Calpak clear cosmetic case

Dagne Dover Large Hunter toiletry bag

Read more: The best women’s Dopp kits and men’s toiletry bags

Water bottle

There’s no better time to put your insulated water bottle to use than a day at the beach, when staying hydrated is even more important than usual. These bottles from Stanley, Hydro Flask, Yeti, and Owala will keep water cold all day long, and hold plenty of water to keep you hydrated for hours. If you want to feel comfortable tossing it in your tote without any leaks, opt for the Hydro Flask or Yeti—the straws can be completely concealed to prevent spills.

Stanley Quencher insulated tumbler, 40-ounce

Yeti Rambler bottle, 26-ounce

Owala FreeSip bottle, 32-ounce

Hydro Flask Wide Mouth with Flex straw cap, 32-ounce

Read more: The best reusable water bottles


When you’re deciding what to pack for a beach vacation, sunscreen should be the first thing in your bag. For body sunscreen, our editors swear by Supergoop’s Play Spray and Sun Bum’s classic sunscreen lotion, both offering broad spectrum SPF 50 protection. And for your face, you can’t go wrong with Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen; the viral bestseller goes on as a completely clear invisible gel and feels so smooth on the skin. Kinfield’s Daily Dew is a great reef-safe mineral option that doesn’t leave a white cast.

Sun Bum SPF 50 sunscreen lotion

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen

Read more: The best body sunscreens, face sunscreens, and our editors’ Supergoop favorites

After-sun lotion

In case you end up being less than diligent about reapplying SPF than planned, bring a cooling mist or aloe lotion for some much-needed post-beach care. These soothing formulas help hydrate the skin and are gentle enough to use on sunburn. Pro tip: Pop the aloe gel in the fridge for a few minutes before using it—it’ll provide an extra-cool feeling on burned skin.

Kinfield Sunday Spray cooling aloe mist

Sun Bum Cool Down aloe vera gel

Bug spray

Depending on where you travel, you may want to pack bug spray, too. In places like Florida and North Carolina, summers get buggy, and you’ll be happy to have packed a spray on nights when you sit on the porch or dine outdoors. These sprays will protect you and your family from mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers.

Sawyer Products 20 percent picaridin insect repellent

Kinfield Golden Hour mosquito repellent

SPF lip balm

One spot you really don’t want to get a sunburn: your lips. There’s nothing fun about chapped, cracked lips after a day in the sun. Two non-sticky and non-tinted lip balms we love are from Supergoop and Aquaphor—they provide sun protection and are ultra-moisturizing.

Aquaphor lip protectant + sunscreen

Antibacterial wipes

Before eating lunch or after playing in the sand, it’s nice to wipe your hands clean with an antibacterial wipe. These travel-friendly hand wipes fit nicely in your backpack or tote and will always come in handy, especially if you have kids. I never travel without them (they’re also great for wiping down your plane seat and tray table in-flight).

Wet Ones antibacterial hand wipes

Portable chargers

When you’re out on the sand for hours at a time, playing music or taking photos can mean a drained battery. Come prepared with a portable charger: We love the Anker PowerCore for its reliability and the iWalk for its ultra-compact size.

Anker PowerCore Portable Charger

iWalk small portable charger

Read more: The best portable chargers for travel

Portable speaker

A portable speaker might not be an essential, but it’s definitely a bonus for any beach day. JBL, Bose, and Marshall make some of our favorite portable speakers. They’re compact, lightweight, and will stay charged all day long.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Portable Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Go 3: portable speaker with bluetooth

Marshall Willen wireless speaker


Even for the most loyal of print fans, it’s hard to argue the benefits of e-readers on vacation. They take up less space in your bag, let you have more book options on deck, and in the case of the Kindle Paperwhite, can withstand a splash of water much better than a paperback. Bring one on your next beach vacation and finally cross a book or two off your reading list.

Waterproof phone case

Nothing ruins a vacation quite like having to fish your phone out of the ocean (or pool, or sink, for that matter). If you’re at all afraid of getting your phone wet by the beach, consider investing in the Osprey dry bag. This thing will keep your electronics and other valuables dry as a bone when you’re on a boat, sitting in a splash zone, or in a kayak. If you want to take your phone in the water with you, we recommend one of LifeProof’s Frē Series waterproof cases.

OtterBox Frē Series MagSafe case

Read more: The best waterproof phone cases


If you’re traveling with kids, games will keep them happy when the clouds come out, when the water’s too cold, or when they just need a new activity. For beachgoers a drive away, a Spikeball set will get plenty of use in the backyard and at the beach, but it is something you’ll have to lug onto the sand. More portable options include flying rings, Kan Jam, and water-resistant Uno cards.

Uno Splash water-resistant cards

Beach towels

While you may be going to a resort where towels are included, it’s never a bad idea to bring your own, especially if you have one that you love, and it’s even more useful when you’re headed to an Airbnb or your own beach house. The ones we’ve featured below are lightweight, ultra-soft towels you’ll want to lay on all day long. If you’re flying and are short on suitcase space, we recommend packing a Nomadix towel.

Mark & Graham Cabana stripe beach towel

Elite Trend microfiber beach towel

Lands’ End Cabana Stripe beach towel

Serena & Lily Mallorca beach towel

Read more: The best beach towels for every type of vacation

Beach cooler

Keep water bottles cold and come prepared with snacks for the kiddos and yourself in any of these insulated bags. These portable coolers from Hydro Flask, Calpak, and Yeti are lightweight enough to carry onto the beach and hold a whole lot more than you think. If your beach vacation is a drive away rather than a flight, consider investing in one of Yeti’s indestructible Tundra Haul wheeled coolers.

Hydro Flask Carry Out Cooler, 20-liter

Calpak Insulated Soft-sided Cooler, 8-liter

Yeti Tundra Haul Hard Cooler

Read more: The best beach coolers

Beach blanket

A beach blanket is a must for room to spread out and lounge—and makes a big difference when you’re having a picnic and don’t want the sand blowing into your snacks. The best beach blankets can be rolled up neatly and toted around on your shoulder for hands-free carrying.

G Good Gain Picnic Blanket

Read more: The best beach blankets

Beach chairs

What’s a beach day without a beach chair? The options below are comfortable, lightweight enough to carry down the boardwalk, and feature a cupholder. An even more fun option—a comfy inflatable lounger that’s just $40 on Amazon.

Tommy Bahama folding beach chair

Ostrich Deluxe 3-in-1 beach chair

Wekapo Inflatable Lounger

Beach umbrella

A beach umbrella provides extra sun protection on a hot day. If you’re spending the whole day at the beach, you’re definitely going to want some shade—especially if you’re traveling with little ones. These options are easy to carry and even easier to set up. Plus, they’re both under $40 on Amazon.

Sport-Brella adjustable umbrella with universal clamp

Picnic Time Canopy Sunshade umbrella