Table of Contents

35 Top Beach Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

Virgin islands beach
By
Updated on

Beaches are at the top of almost everyone’s list when they think of the most relaxing places to be. They’re beautiful and breezy, offering many activities for young and old alike, plus they are a great escape from the routine of daily life.

If you’re ready to hit the waves of paradise, you know there are some obvious things you want to bring. Based on decades of experience, we’re sharing this thorough list of must-have beach items that you may not have thought of. Below it, you’ll find recommendations for what NOT to bring, along with what to wear, and FAQs.

Fergusson at the beach
Us at the beach in Puerto Rico for the baby moon of our second child.
See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for the Beach - 35 Essentials

  • 1. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    A soft beach towel is one of the most essential items to pack for your beach trip. Use it as a seat, sweat rag, or to quickly dry yourself off. This towel is perfect for an action-filled beach day or a simple day enjoying the water because it dries 10x faster than cotton and weighs virtually nothing. It also comes with a bonus washcloth and is available in several colors.

    HERO Travel Towel - Blue

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 2. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    Ever wanted to bring your phone into the ocean to take a few underwater selfies? Now you can! This waterproof phone pouch features a simple snap-and-lock closure that will keep your phone safe from water and sand. You’ll still have full use of your touchscreen and camera to record epic underwater videos (with sound).

    waterproof phone pouch

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 3. Float Straps for Devices

    Imagine your phone sinking to the bottom of the ocean, getting stuck in a sharp coral reef, or being unretrievable… Not fun. These float straps are made to keep small devices like cameras and phones afloat so that you can recover them easily. Wear them on your wrist to prevent them from falling in the first place!

    Float Straps for Devices

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 4. Sandproof Beach Mat

    Beach blankets are always necessary, but the wrong one will get blown around, filled with sand, and will be hard to dry at the end of the day. This sandproof beach blanket is made of parachute material so it’s super lightweight and beads of water and sand will roll right off. It folds up compactly for packing purposes into a small carrying pouch.

    Sandproof Beach Mat

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 5. Cooling Towels

    Enjoy the day longer and stay comfortable when you bring your cooling towel to the beach. Hot temperatures can leave you feeling lethargic and uncomfortable, but when you use this towel, you’ll feel chilled and energized to lead a delightful day. Just add water and it will drop to 30 degrees colder than the outside temp. Relax with it around your shoulders, on your neck, or wrists to quickly regulate your body temperature.

    Cooling Towel Pink and blue

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 6. Travel Insurance for Beach Vacations

    We strongly believe travel insurance is an absolute must – especially when traveling far from home. Cancellations, lost luggage, accidents, urgent itinerary changes, and other unexpected situations can cost you a fortune if you’re not covered. Paying out-of-pocket could be a catastrophe, but it’s completely unnecessary and preventable.

    We use Faye Travel Insurance since they offer customized quotes for every trip and traveler. Everything is handled through their mobile app which makes the process really painless (way better than typical providers who offer you stacks of paperwork to fill out!) We received our reimbursements quickly and have used them ever since. You can even get “cancel for any reason” plans that make it possible to get a refund on parts of your trip if you change your mind last minute!

    Travel Insurance for Beach Vacations

    Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

  • 7. Discounted Tickets to Beach Activities

    Some of the best things to do on this earth lie just off the coast of a stunning beach! Sail on a catamaran in Cancún, snorkel a crater in Hawaii, sightsee across Miami, and parasail over Portugal. Whether you’re island hopping through archipelagos like the Caribbean and Greece, or seeking thrills like swimming with manta rays in Bali or wild pigs in the Bahamas – there are countless things to experience that will enhance your beach days.

    We use Get Your Guide to book our tours because they have flexible cancellations and always add a lot of value to our family adventures.

    Discounted Tickets to Beach Activities

    See all Beach attractions at GetYourGuide.com ➜

  • 8. Motion Sickness Patches

    If you tend to get seasick on cruises, boating excursions or queasy on windy roads that wrap around the coastline – these motion sickness patches are a smart addition to your list. They use natural ingredients to calm your system, mitigating nausea and dizziness before they begin. I’ve tried many similar products and these are the only ones that actually work – with the added bonus of not making me super drowsy like most do.

    Motion Sickness Patches

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 9. Beach Bag with a Built-in Cooler

    A day at the beach isn’t complete without a steady supply of cold drinks and snacks. We found the PERFECT beach bag that has a built-in cooler for all of your provisions! It’s lightweight, roomy enough with nine pockets, and easy to clean sand out of. The cooler can hold 14 cans, so you’ll have everything you need to chill on the sands til the sun rolls down.

    Beach bag

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 10. Neck Wallet

    A neck wallet is a useful storage case for your cash, passports, phones, and credit cards. This is an especially useful item if you’re going through airports or on cruise ships, etc. And if you’re traveling on some long flights then you will likely still feel jet-lagged after a long journey. It’s handy to have all your valuables in one secure place so that you don’t lose them when you’re exhausted. The RFID-blocking material is a nice touch for modern thieves.

    Neck Wallet

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 11. Mesh Slip-on Water Shoes

    Protecting your feet both in and out of the water is important at the beach. Sharp shells, rocks, and sea urchins can cut an unprotected foot – you don’t want to risk an infection! These awesome mesh shoes can be worn while swimming, wading, walking, and hiking. They dry quickly, grip well, and don’t collect sand, so they’re ideal for beaches!

    Mesh Slip-on Water Shoes

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 12. Beach Wagon

    Instead of lugging around tons of beach bags and totes, put your essentials in this beach wagon. We use one for our family for beach toys, towels, umbrellas, a cooler, and a change of clothes for everyone. It’s foldable, spacious, and sand is no match for these wheels – an absolute game-changer!

    Beach Wagon

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 13. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    If you’re heading to a beach that may get rain, such as the Pacific Northwest, or the tropics during rainy season, you’ll want to pack a windproof travel umbrella. This one is super compact yet sturdy, so it’s great for keeping in the car, just in case. That way, you’ll be able to stay dry and enjoy the beauty of the beach even if there is a major downpour.

    travel umbrella

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 14. Sun Hat

    Any smart beachgoer will bring a sunhat for UV protection. It will make you more comfortable throughout the day by keeping the sun out of your eyes and off your face, ears, and neck. This one is wide-brimmed but foldable for packing, so it doesn’t become a disheveled mess! With UPF 50+, it will filter some of those ultraviolet rays for you.

    Sun Hat

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 15. Swimsuit Cover-Up

    Swimsuit cover-ups are not just practical, they are an opportunity to have fun with beach fashion! This cover-up is super comfortable and flattering, plus the soft material dries quickly and retains its shape instead of getting baggy or stretched out. You can use this to blend in with the local dress code while hopping from cafes, grocery stores, and back to the beach again without a change of clothes.

    Swimsuit Cover-Up

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 16. Portable Lipstick-Sized Charger

    A day of fun in the sun can certainly drain your device batteries. Bring a portable charger with you to recharge your electronics. This particular charger is about the size of a tube of lipstick, but don’t let its size fool you – it can fully recharge a dead phone quickly using your standard USB charger cables. It’s the fastest power bank we’ve found.

    Lipstick-Sized Charger

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 17. Packing Cubes

    Whether you’re traveling with a backpack, suitcase, or simply loading up your car – a few packing cubes will make it so much easier to stay organized. Instead of having to dig around for your swim trunks or bikini top – just grab the cube your swimsuits are packed in and you’ll be ready to hit the beach no matter if it’s a local cove or a vacation in Hawaii.

    Available on HeroTravelSupply.com with an exclusive 15% discount using the coupon code “HERO”.

    Packing Cubes

    Or view them on Amazon.com ➜

  • 18. Children’s Beach Toys

    Your little ones will have a BLAST making giant sand castles and collecting sea shells. But many plastic toys contain toxic BPA which can affect brain development. And plastic is known for just cracking and breaking anyway! Silicon toys are a great alternative since they’re endlessly reusable, travel-friendly, and don’t contain dangerous chemicals.

    Children’s Beach Toys

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 19. Adult Beach Games

    Even if you don’t have toddlers or tots, bring your own activities to keep the good times rolling! One of our favorite games for the whole family is spikeball – a “sport” that can be challenging or easy depending on the crowd, but always has tons of laughs, and you will see people’s competitive side come out! Other good ones are surfminton, bocce, and football.

    Adult Beach Games

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 20. Water Bottle with a Built-in Filter

    Hydration is incredibly important when you’re spending time in the sun and doing anything active. A filtered water bottle like this one is a great way to make sure that you can refill your bottle anywhere, even the random beach spigot. The high-tech filter means you can still trust that the water will be tasty and cleaner than straight out of the tap. Also, consider a Hydro Flask if it suits your needs better, it really keeps your drinks ice-cold all day!

    Water Bottle with a Built-in Filter

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 21. Cheers Hangover Relief

    Many people sit at the beach with a piña colada in hand, or any cocktail with a tiny umbrella sticking out of it! Beaches sometimes demand a cold beer or rum milkshake (depending on the all-inclusive drink package involved), but you won’t want to feel slowed down or sick. The sun exposure and dehydration alone can cause one or two drinks to really sneak up on you. Stay ahead of it with hangover relief supplements – these detox alcohol from your body more quickly so you can get back to feeling your best!

    Cheers Hangover Relief

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 22. Dry Bag

    After watching our backpack slosh around the deck of a boat like a fish, we always travel to places near water with a dry bag. It’s a much better alternative than watching your cash crumble into a ball of worthlessness, trust us! This is an ideal place to keep your neck wallet or cash, phones, books, towels, medication, and anything else you want to keep 100% dry. Tip: fill it up with some air, fold it over, clamp it, and it will float.

    Dry Bag

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 23. VPN (Virtual Private Network)

    Whether you’re renting a beach house, stopping at seaside cafes, or landing at an airport on the coast – you can easily become vulnerable to hackers. I had my credit card information stolen at an Airbnb, so I quickly realized that any public network can be a threat, even the ones you think are trustworthy. Now, I use NordVPN to add a layer of encryption between my private data (passwords, credit card info, SSNs, etc.) and any potential cyber-thieves. It gives users a faster connection that is safe from malware, tracking, and intrusive ads.

    A bonus perk is getting discounted tickets on flights since the geo-targeted pricing isn’t an issue (your IP address will be untrackable and you’ll have access to over 6,000 global servers in more than 100 countries). Essentially, it offers a safer, freer, and more anonymous internet experience. For a few dollars a month, it’s one of the best investments you can make.

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    View NordVPN.com Plans ➜

  • 24. Kid’s Full-Face Snorkel & Life Vest

    While it’s easier to find adult-sized rentals regarding water gear, children’s sizes will be more difficult to come across. That’s why we bring these anti-leak snorkel masks that our kids love! They feel safer with no mouthpiece in their face and the anti-fog screen helps them see without issue. Don’t forget the life vests so your kiddos can have full confidence in the water!

    Kid’s Full-Face Snorkel & Life Vest

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 25. Reef-Safe Sunscreen

    No matter where you visit, you should always use a reef-safe sunscreen. Standard sunscreens contain chemicals that have been proven to cause lasting damage to aquatic ecosystems. Opting for a reef-safe sunscreen will help protect aquatic plants and animals, whether you’re on the beaches of a lake, a sea, or an ocean. It’s safer for you too since it’s oxybenzone- and paraben-free.

    Reef-Safe Sunscreen

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 26. Beach Umbrella

    It’s smart to bring some sort of shade from the sun so that you can take breaks from the heat and UV exposure. This umbrella anchors into the sand so it won’t blow away, and it’s large enough to provide a lot of shade to more than one person at a time.

    Beach Umbrella

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 27. Personal Hand-Held Fan

    It gets hot on the beach, and the breeze is often not enough reprieve. A personal fan really adds to our comfort when lounging, and it is very helpful when cooling off children who may be overheated from playing. This one is small and light, but kicks out quite a breeze.

    Personal Hand-Held Fan

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 28. Universal Power Adapter

    If your beach vacation of choice is international, pack along this universal power adapter that will work in 100+ popular countries. We prefer this one in particular because it has two USB ports, will work for almost all of your future travel, and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee so it can be the last adapter you ever buy!

    Power Adaptor

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 29. Mosquito-Repellant Wristbands

    We’ve been to plenty of beaches that get infested by mosquitos and sand gnats around sunset. Be sure to protect yourself with mosquito-repellent so you can watch the sunset on the beach in peace. We use these wristbands since they’re convenient to wear, safe for kids, and free of toxic chemicals. Use natural bug spray for reinforcement before dinner, bonfires, fireworks, or any other nighttime activities where the pests are extra fierce!

    Mosquito-Repellant Wristbands

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 30. Fold-out Beach Chairs

    If you don’t want to sit in the sand all day, consider bringing your own chair. I personally like to lounge a bit off the ground and can end up with a sore back and knees if I lay too flat on the dirt for long periods. If you suffer from body stiffness, this chair is a cheap investment for future beach days, camping trips, and picnics.

    Fold-out Beach Chairs

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 31. Rash Guard

    Rash guards are a must-have. We bring them every time we go to a beach. They protect you from UV exposure and the friction and rashes caused by using a boogie board, a surfboard, or a host of other water sport accessories. These are our favorite rash guards for men and women. They add a UPF of 50+ and are very comfortable to wear!

    Rash Guard

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 32. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    After sadly having a couple of things stolen out of our check bags, we always travel with luggage locks. When at the beach, you might need them for lockers or to protect your totes. If you’re flying anywhere, TSA won’t have to cut off your lock because it’s approved for their key system.

    luggage locks

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 33. Leave-in Hair Conditioner

    Beach days can be very hard on your hair. Sun exposure alone can cause lasting damage, but add saltwater and wind, and you’ve got a recipe for frizzy dryness. This leave-in conditioner works to replenish nutrients in your hair and protect it from further damage. It smells so delicious and we’ve found that it doesn’t leave too much heavy product residue.

    conditioner

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 34. Water Hammock

    While the kids and adventure nuts want to do wild things at the beach – sometimes you JUST want to float! This water hammock is like your own personal lounger to drift along with the current, sunbathe, and find your zen. Don’t fall asleep or let the current take you too far, cause this float is seriously relaxing!

    Water Hammock

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 35. Electrolytes

    Long days in the sun can easily lead to dehydration, especially if alcohol is involved, so bring along some electrolytes to amp up the power of your water. This brand adds vitamins and minerals to keep you energized, plus key nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. If you’re sweating at all, it’s wise to have.

    Electrolytes

    View on Amazon.com ➜

What should I wear to the beach?

What-to-wear-at-the-beachThe good news is that you don’t need to wear much at the beach. A swimsuit, flip flops and a cover-up make up the beachwear trifecta.

A sunhat and sunglasses are also a good idea.

You should always bring a change of clothes and a bag to store your wet items in. Keep items that need to stay dry in your waterproof dry bag. It’s also advisable to pack a lightweight rain jacket in case the weather turns or you are visiting off-season. And of course, bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray as well!

What NOT to take to the beach:

  • 1.Electronics

    Only bring waterproof electronics! If you really want to bring your camera or tablet, make sure you use a dry bag so they don’t get invaded by sand or water.

  • 2.Phone without a dry bag

    The last thing you want is sand stuck in the crevices of your phone. Or worse, irreparable water damage!

  • 3.Foods that will attract bees

    Leave the sweet stuff at home (or in a sealed cooler). Bees are especially attracted to honey, so if your picnic includes a peanut butter and honey sandwich, you will have visitors.

  • 4.Boots or sneakers

    They’re just not necessary for a warm day at the beach. Go barefoot or wear flip flops!

  • 5.Valuables

    Lock away anything valuable in your car, out of sight. This way if your whole crew wants to take a dip in the water you won’t have to worry about anything getting stolen from your beach site.

FAQs about packing for the beach

  • 1. Can I use a tent or umbrellas at the beach?

    Can I use a tent or umbrellas at the beach?

    Definitely. A day at the beach doesn’t mean you need to be in the sun all day. Using a tent or umbrella will shade you from harmful UV rays and give you a place to rest without the direct light and heat.

  • 2. What are some good beach reads?

    We all have different taste in books, but if you’re in the mood for a juicy but light-hearted beach read, check out this beach reads list. When reading on the beach, it’s probably best to avoid any heavy subject matter. Avoid things like thrillers and mysteries, and try to stick with uplifting or at least amusing stories.

  • 3. How do I find a public beach near me?

    How do I find a public beach near me?

    Simply Google “beach near me.” A map will pop up with beaches that are close to your location! You can read the descriptions and see if they are public and if they require an entrance or parking fee. Follow the associated links to learn more about that beach and any rules for use.

  • 4. Is there anything special I should bring when going to the beach with kids?

    Extra snacks and cold drinks are always a good idea, as are water diapers, a playpen, water wings (floaties), pool noodles, and anything that will keep the kids entertained! A mom I know compares packing for one day at the beach with kids to packing for a week-long vacation with adults – you’ll want to overprepare where possible. Extra changes of clothes are vital: you’ll be surprised how dirty kids can get at the beach.

    Definitely bring a shade umbrella to avoid heat exhaustion. We also highly recommend a hand-held fan to help with the cooling-off process!

  • 5. Can I bring my dog?

    Can I bring my dog?

    Some beaches are dog-friendly, while others are not. If the beach you are going to happens to allow dogs, there will most likely be a strict leash policy. Research your particular beach destination online to get specifics, and be absolutely sure that you follow leash and curb rules so that you don’t contribute to loss of dog privileges or possibly get ticketed for a violation.

  • 6. Is alcohol allowed at the beach?

    Here again, it depends on the beach. Some beaches even have vendors where you can buy such beverages, while others have rules against any alcohol. Most beaches in the US allow it, but may have restrictions against certain kinds or certain containers. Do your research on the beach you’ll be visiting before you go, and be sure to bring along appropriate trash bags so that you can avoid leaving any litter on the beach.

  • 7. What’s the best time of day to go to the beach?

    What’s the best time of day to go to the beach?

    The earlier you arrive, the better spot you can stake out, and the more time you’ll have at the beach. Getting there mid-morning and beating the big crowds is always the best idea.

  • 8. What if I’m traveling to a beach location on off-season?

    Beach-going can actually be pretty fun during the off-season, as long as you know what to expect from the weather, the tides, and the rules of the beach. The toughest part of off-season beach days is usually the wind or the weather, so make sure that you pack good layers in case a chill sets in. It’s also a good idea to be sure you have a plan to skedaddle out of there quickly if a rainstorm comes up unexpectedly!

    The huge benefit of going to the beach during the slower season is that you won’t have to fight big crowds for premium beach spots! This can make beach days much more fun.

  • 9. What’s the best way to protect my valuables while I’m at the beach?

    What’s the best way to protect my valuables while I’m at the beach?

    There are several methods that many people employ:

    1. Anything of value that you don’t absolutely need should be left at home or locked out of sight in the car
    2. Valuable items that you have to keep with you (phone, wallet, etc.) should be hidden and, if possible, locked away. Some beach blankets have hidden zippered pouches for this purpose, and certain coolers can be locked – again for this purpose.
    3. Bring your items with you in a dry bag! These waterproof bags and wearable pouches are designed to allow you to carry your vulnerable items safely, even when you’re taking part in water sports.
  • 10. What are some beach safety tips to be aware of?

    The first and foremost tip is to stay on top of sunscreen and hydration. Exposure to solar dehydration and UV rays is the most common danger on beaches.

    The second tip would be to be aware of tides, currents, and other water conditions. Water is an excellent source of fun and entertainment, but tides can also be very dangerous if children are left unattended, or individuals don’t know what to do if they get caught in a rip current. Check resources like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website for resources on tide safety and rip currents.

    Above all, stay in sight of your party and don’t take foolish risks, and you should be just fine! Beaches are about fun, relaxation, and exploring.