17 Top Beach Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2018 Update)

Updated on April 24, 2018 by Asher Fergusson

What should I bring on my Beach trip?

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

There are some obvious items to pack for the beach, but we’ve come up with a 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 even some FAQs.

Bask in the sun, splash around a bit, and enjoy your opportunity to soak in the beauty of the beach!


1) Waterproof Phone Case – Ever wanted to bring your phone into the ocean to take a few selfies? Now you can with this waterproof pouch that features a simple snap and lock closure to keep out water and sand. As a bonus, you’ll still have full use of your touchscreen and camera!
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2) Underwater Digital Camera – A waterproof camera will immortalize your underwater memories! This one gives you a full range of quality digital camera functions including underwater sound for your videos. It’s also durable and easy to use, plus very affordable.
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3) Float Straps for Devices – If you’re planning to bring your devices anywhere near the water they should be waterproof, and they should float! Imagine your phone sinking to the bottom of the ocean… Not fun. These float straps are made for keeping small devices like cameras and phones afloat so that you can retrieve them more easily. They’re also comfortable to wear on your wrist to prevent your devices from falling in the first place!
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4) Leave-in Hair Conditioner – Beach days can be very hard on your hair. Sun exposure alone can cause lasting damage, but add salt water and wind and you’ve got a recipe for frizz and dryness. This leave-in conditioner works to replenish nutrients to your hair and to protect it from further damage. It smells nice, it’s easy to use, and we’ve found that it doesn’t add too much heavy product residue.
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5) Cooler Bag – A day at the beach isn’t complete without a steady supply of cold drinks and snacks. Keep everything fresh in this heavy-duty collapsible, packable cooler bag. It has a super thick insulation lining and can hold up to 24 cans. Throw in some beach-friendly snacks (like salami and cheese) and you’re good to go!
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6) Beach Mat – Beach blankets are always necessary, but the wrong blanket will get blown around, filled with sand, and will be hard to dry at the end of the day. This WildHorn Outfitters beach mat is made of parachute material so it’s quick-drying and lightweight. It also folds up very compactly for packing purposes. There are sand weights on the edges, too, so it won’t blow around in the beach breeze! It even has pockets for your belongings.
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7) Beach Bag – A good beach bag should be lightweight and roomy, and should be very easy to clean sand out of. This bag is all of that, plus it contains an extra cooler in it so you can have that much more cooler space! It’s made for traveling, so it will fold up neatly for storage and packing.
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8) Swimsuit Cover-Up – Swimsuit cover-ups are not just practical, but are also an opportunity to have fun with beach fashion. This cover-up is very comfortable and flattering, plus the soft material dries quickly and retains its shape instead of getting baggy and stretched out. The last thing you want to do when you get out of the water is change your clothes while you’re still damp – wear this while you hang out and dry off.
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9) Portable Waterproof Speaker – We really like our APIE waterproof speakers. They’re small but have surprisingly good sound quality, and they can be brought with you anywhere. We’ve used ours in the pool, on the beach, and even while paddleboarding! We simply bring our phones in waterproof phone cases so we can play music over the speaker. The batteries last about 10 hours, which means you should have plenty of entertainment time before you have to recharge them.
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10) 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 hold multiple charges and will power up your devices quickly using your standard USB charger cables.
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11) Brita Filtered Water bottle – Hydration is incredibly important when you’re spending time in the sun and doing anything active. A filtered water bottle is a great way to make sure that you can refill your bottle when you run out of water and still trust that the water will be tasty and clean.
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12) Reef-Safe Sunscreen – No matter what, 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.
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13) Beach Umbrella – It’s wise to bring some sort of shade from the sun so that you can take breaks from the heat and the 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.
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14) 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.
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15) Waterproof Dry Bag – Can’t leave home without this one. Storing your belongings in a waterproof dry bag will give you peace of mind if you’re bringing anything that can’t get wet (like your phone or first aid kit)! This Earth Pak dry bag is lightweight, durable, and 100% waterproof. Perfect for extreme adventures or a day at the beach.
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16) Rash Guard: Women’s and Men’s – Rash guards are a must-have – we bring them every time we go to a beach. They protect the wearer from UV exposure and from the friction and rashes caused by using a boogie board, a surf board, 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 quite comfortable to wear!
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17) Mesh Slip-On Water Shoes: Women’s and Men’s – Protecting your feet both in and out of the water is important at the beach. Sharp shells and rocks can cut an unprotected foot – you don’t want to risk infection! These awesome 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!
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Other packing list items for the beach:


 

What to wear to the beach:


The 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!
 

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?

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?

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?

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. Most beaches in the US allow alcohol, as long as you don’t bring in any glass containers. Opt for cans, and research online before you go! You should also 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?

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?

There are several methods that many people employ:

  • Anything of value that you don’t absolutely need should be left at home or locked out of sight in the car
  • 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.
  • 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.
 

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