We’ve all been there – one minute, you’re enjoying what’s supposed to be a fun and relaxing trip to the beach. The next, it suddenly dawns on you that you forgot to pack your sunscreen, water bottle, or extra towels.
In the rush to trade in the stress of everyday life for the soothing sound of the waves, it’s easy to forget the very things designed to keep beach days stress-free. Don’t let it happen to you! Here we’ve compiled the ultimate beach packing list for a range of outings to beaches around the world.
We’ll start out with a set of bare beach essentials – you know, the type of things you need when you just plan to spend a few hours laying out in the sand. Then, we’ll get into a more thorough list designed for a full-on beach camping trip. No matter what kind of trip you’re preparing for, you’ll soon know just what to bring to the beach!
Show Table of Contents
- Everyday Beach Essentials
- High SPF Sunscreen
- Water Bottles
- Beach Cooler
- Games and Toys
- Sun Hats
- Sun Canopy
- What To Bring To The Beach For Camping
- Beach Camping Tent
- Beach Camping Chairs
- Beach Blankets
- Sleep Mats and Bedding
- Sleeping Bags
- Bug Spray
- First Aid Kit
- Sun-protective Clothes
- Portable Power and Nighttime Lighting
- Portable Fire Pit
- Camping Stove and Utensils
- Camping Food
- Beach Camping Cooler
- Printable Beach Packing List
- What should you bring for a day at the beach?
- Are there any specific beach items that are required for sun protection or safety?
- How can I organize my beach gear and accessories efficiently after my trip?
Everyday Beach Essentials
A good towel plays many different roles throughout the course of the average beach trip, and it’s just about the first thing on any beach packing list. From creating a comfy layer of sand-free beach to soaking the salt water from your hair after a swim, the beach towel’s work is never done.
Luckily, the PackTowl Ultralite Towel is up to the challenge. Made from a soft microfiber blend, it’s super soft, soaks up more water, and dries much quicker than mere mortal towels.
Designed to be lightweight and easily storable, it’s not the kind of towel that will eat up half the interior of your beach bag. I’ve also tried one from Sea To Summit, which was also tip-top.
While we’re on tip-top towels, we can’t resist pointing out a few other cool towel innovations that make perfect editions to nearly any beach trip.
Check out this cool hooded towel that you may or may not steal from your tween!
And then there’s this brilliant changing poncho that’s designed to help you change your clothes without ducking behind the nearest sand dunes.
See Related: Best Vacation Dresses for Summer & Beach Trips
High SPF Sunscreen
Unfortunately, not all sunscreens are created equal. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a handy guide to safe and effective sunscreens, so you know which ones you should include on your beach packing list.
If you’re keen on ensuring your sunscreen is on point, head to the recreational sunscreen page of their site and click your favorite brand to see which of their products cut. My favorite is Sun Bum. Actually, check out Sun Bum in general; they do a bunch of great stuff.
While there’s nothing better than hanging out in the sun all day, it’s super important to remember to stay hydrated! Heatstroke is no joke, so whether you’re beach camping or just trying to get a killer tan, make sure the sun doesn’t get the best of you by bringing along plenty of water.
You can’t go wrong with YETI; I’m a big fan of the Rambler series. Columbia also has this great BPA-free water bottle with little measurements to help you track how much you’ve drank throughout the day. Or you might opt for this insulated collapsable 500ml option to help save room when it’s time to pack up and head home.
See Related: The Ultimate Summer Trip Packing List
As well as water, you might also want to indulge in anything from soda to your favorite adult beverage. Whether you’re planning a romantic beach date with wine or want to enjoy a cool Diet Coke with lunch, the Yeti Hopper Flip Cooler will keep those beverages feeling brrr!
Available in different sizes, even the smallest version can fit up to 11 cans. While a bit pricey, this is one cooler that will last you a lifetime, with plenty of room for food, snacks, ice-cold drinks, or whatever else you may feel the need to pack alongside your ice packs.
If you’re in search of a durable option that doesn’t break the bank, then check out the Stoic 30-Can Heavy Duty Cooler with extra thick insulation designed to keep your drinks cold longer. It’s also made with a waterproof and heat-sealed anti-odor PEVA liner to prevent leakage as your ice melts.
Games and Toys
Keep in mind that although reading a questionable romance novel in the sand may sound like heaven to you, it’s highly unlikely your kids will be so easily amused. Make sure you bring along plenty of fun beach toys, like quality bodyboards or this 18-piece beach toy bag for younger kids.
Make sure you pack your favorite pair of polarized sunglasses so you don’t spend all day squinting away in the sun. Brands like Maui Jim have plenty of great high-end options, but if keeping up with your shades isn’t your strong point, you might want to opt for a more affordable brand like Knockaround.
If you’re planning to venture beyond the water’s edge, you might even consider these Pepper’s Sea Dweller Polarized Sunglasses. Not only do they have polarized lenses that are perfect for watersports, but they also feature unsinkable floating frames.
See Related: Best Travel Sunglasses for Beaches & Vacations
The right hat can go a long way regarding sun protection. For instance, check out this CTR straw hat, which is not only super cute but also made of fabric that offers UPF 40 protection.
Or check out the REI Co-op Packable Cap made from quick-drying ripstop nylon. It offers UPF 50+ protection, has an internal sweatband, and can even fold up to easily fit in your bag or pocket.
Alternatively, if you’re too cool for swim school, this surf-themed Patagonia baseball cap will do you just fine.
See Related: Best Travel Sandals for Beach Destinations
Whether you plan to go on an overnight beach camping trip or you just want to spend the afternoon listening to the crashing waves, you won’t regret adding a little extra shade. Rather than opt for the classic beach umbrella, you might consider looking into a relatively small sunshade which will give you a lot more shade than your average parasol.
If you desire even more protection, then check out the Kelty Cabana Shelter. Weighing in at just over 7 pounds, this little pop-up cabana offers plenty of shade and a great sand-free place to stash your food, cooler, and other equipment.
What To Bring To The Beach For Camping
A day at the beach is one thing, but a beach camping trip requires a whole other level of preparation. Fear not; whether you plan to set out with your significant other, friends, or the whole family, we’ve got the goods with this beach camping checklist.
Beach Camping Tent
When shopping for beach camping essentials, if there’s one thing you don’t want to cut corners on, it’s a great tent. While sleeping out under the stars may sound romantic, things can feel slightly different when the wind kicks up and pelts you in the face with sand.
The good news is that you’ll find plenty of tents available to choose from. The REI Co-op Base Camp Tent is a solid choice that comes with enough room for four people, zip-adjustable vents, and a UV-resistant rainfly.
It even comes with two doors, so there’s no need to crawl over your fellow campers to reach the tent entrance. And to make sure the sunrise doesn’t interrupt your pursuit of a good night’s sleep, then check out the Coleman Skydome Tent, which comes equipped with darkroom technology that blocks out 90% of sunlight.
See Related: The Complete Backpacking Checklist for Travelers
Beach Camping Chairs
Searching for the perfect beach chair to add to your camping gear checklist? You’ll quickly discover a there’s a vast range of cheap options out there, but you’ll find it’s better for your bum to shoot for higher quality. Yeah, they’re more than your $5 convenience store folding chairs, but they’re built to last and for comfort. Check out classics like the Columbia Mesh Folding Chair or the Kelty Low Loveseat, which is perfect for cuddling.
Coleman has a great Quad Chair for kids, while GCI has your stargazing needs covered with these Outdoor Kickback Rocker camping chairs. BYO shade with the Helinox Personal Shade chair, or push the boat out with YETI’s indestructible, UV-resistant Trailhead Camp Chair, which is great for beach camping, backpacking trips, and anything in between.
When it comes to beach camping, there are two types of blankets to consider – those intended for snuggling under at nighttime and those that also serve as a glorified sand shield for daytime lounging. When it comes to the latter, the YETI Lowlands Blanket is the king of all blankets everywhere.
This bad boy will not only prevent sand from creeping up on you, but it’s also the perfect ground cover for a range of other outdoor activities, from concerts to climbing. Plus, it’s water, dirt, and even fur resistant, so feel free to invite your family pooch to relax on it while camping at the beach or anywhere else.
If you wanna keep your sand shield cheap n’ cheerful, the colorful Camco Handy Mat with Strap is a great, lightweight option that can be easily folded and carried. If you’re thinking about extending your anti-sand area even further, then an oversized tarp is a cheap way. Just keep color in mind while selecting a tarp, as a black one will get hot quickly.
See Related: Best Beach Blankets | Sand-Free Portable Options
Sleep Mats and Bedding
When it comes to where to bed down at night, sleeping mats are a great idea and require a lot less hassle to set up than the average air mattress. You can’t go wrong with options like the Megamat Duo 10 Sleeping Pad or the HEST Foamy Sleeping Pad.
Stop it off with this super cozy Packable Stadium Blanket, which comes complete with built-in waterproof technology. Or check out this Plush Footed Throw Blanket that comes with a little foot pocket to keep your toes toasty while sitting around the campfire at night.
If you’d rather go the sleeping bag route on your next camping trip, you’ll discover that there are a range of great and innovative choices. For instance, check out Columbia’s Kid’s Grow Along sleeping bag, designed to adjust to your kid’s height as they grow.
Prefer to cozy up to your partner on a romantic beach camping outing? Look no further than the Dream Island Double Sleeping Bag from Big Agnes. Alternatively, if you’re sleeping alone, you could opt for this accidentally hilarious yet undeniably awesome Wearable Sleeping Bag.
Depending on your camping trip destination, you may or may not find yourself fending off unsavory insects. That’s why it’s worth adding a good bottle of bug spray to your beach camping packing list.
Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion can keep bug bites at bay for up to 14 hours and is made from a low-odor, non-greasy formula. The same company also makes a pump spray that you can use on your clothes, tent, or gear.
First Aid Kit
Don’t forget to add a first aid kit to your beach camping packing list! Adventure Medical Kits have an excellent range of first aid kits, such as the Ultralight & Watertight Medical Kit, that’s perfect for beach camping. They even offer much larger Mountaineers medical kits for overprotective moms everywhere.
PRO TIP: There’s nothing worse than leaving your trip early due to an unexpected injury, so take the time to familiarize yourself with these summer safety rules from the Red Cross. It’s also a great idea to discuss them with the whole family before your next beach camping trip to make sure everyone’s on the same page. You might consider taking one of their First Aid/CPR/AED courses.
If the beach camping site you select doesn’t happen to have a bathroom, then you have a few choices at your disposal. Feast your eyes on the delightfully dubbed Luggable Loo! A 5-gallon portable toilet for answering nature’s call anywhere.
Just don’t forget to pack toilet paper or body wipes! If you’re in a more secluded camping location, you might even consider going all out with the PACT Outdoors Outdoor Bathroom Kit.
When body wipes alone aren’t up to the task of washing off all the sand at the end of the day, look no further than the Solar Shower. The Solar Shower holds up to 20L of water and comes with a built-in solar absorber that uses the sun’s rays to create a perfectly toasty camp shower.
See Related: Best Travel Bottles For Toiletries
Even if the idea of spending your entire beach camping trip in your swimsuit sounds great now, it may not prove so much fun after a few days in the sun. That’s why sun-protective clothing is at the top of our list for great beach camping ideas.
Check out Columbia’s collection, which includes popular choices like the Women’s Sun Trek Hooded Pullover and the Men’s PFG Terminal Tackle™ Hoodie. YETI also has a great line that includes the Women’s Hoodie Sunshirt and the men’s crewneck sun shirt.
REI also has sun-protective hoodies for kids that go well with these hybrid board shorts for both boys and girls. In addition to plenty of quick-drying towels, make sure you bring along this dry bag set to make sure your warm clothes stay ready for cool beach camping nights.
Portable Power and Nighttime Lighting
Even if your beach campsite doesn’t have a ton of plug-ins, it’s still possible to keep your devices charged with the handy BioLite SolarPanel 10+. Or you can opt for the Venture Light 3000 Recharge + Power Bank, one of my all-time favorite camping gadgets, which can both recharge your devices and serve as a light for your beach campsite for up to 14 hours between charges.
Coleman also has a great wireless solar-charging headlight that’s perfect for nighttime reading or walks on low-lit beaches. Keep your visibility high while camping on the beach at night with the Coast EAL22 Lantern or the Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Lantern.
Keep your campsite visible with these cool MPOWERD Solar String Lights. They come with a detachable solar power hub that uses green energy to charge them up throughout the day.
Portable Fire Pit
There’s nothing quite like telling scary stories or making s’more around the campfire. This Pop-Up Fire Pit lets you easily set up a wood or charcoal-burning fire pit while camping at the beach or pretty much anywhere else.
Some sites will allow you to build a fire below the high tide line so that the fire scar left will wash away with the tide. If you choose to go down this route, make sure to download a free tide-tracker app like the NOAA’s Tide Alert or Tides Near Me.
But if you want to use your fire pit out of high tide range, then bring along this BioLite FireMat. Designed to effortlessly reflect heat, it will protect the ground no matter where you set up.
Camping Stove and Utensils
When it comes to actually cooking while camping on the beach, sure, the fire pit is a top idea, but not necessarily specialized for everyone’s needs. And when it comes to finding the right tools for the job in hand, there are multiple options, such as a backpacker’s stove like the MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove. Or you might opt for a camp stove like the Eureka SPRK+ Butane Camp Stove or the Coleman Cascade 328 3-Burner Camp Stove.
If you’re planning on going all out, Zempire offers a 2-Burner Deluxe & Grill High-Pressure Camping Stove for overenthusiastic dads everywhere! Top it off with this Camp Cooking Set or the GSI Outdoors nForm Crossover Kitchen Kit, and watch your favorite camp cook do their thing.
Skip the paper plates and paper towels in favor of a reusable Enamelware Table Set or a UCO ECO 5-Piece Mess Kit. No matter which you choose, you can easily keep them clean with the outdoor element Camp Kitchen Cleaning Set.
And don’t forget to check if the beach camping site you’re headed to has a picnic table area before you head out. If you find yourself in a picnic table-free zone, then bring along your own set-ups like this handy Roll Top Table or the compact, collapsible Eureka! Camp Table.
Have you always dreamed of camping at the beach while living on nothing but granola bars, trail mix, and your own mighty fishing prowess? We applaud you – but seriously, best to add camping food to your packing list just in case things don’t pan out according to plan.
Patagonia Provisions offers a solid collection of canned fish, all of which you’re more than welcome to claim you caught with your own two hands. Companies like Backpacker’s Pantry and Mountain House also have an awesome variety of one-pot meals that are perfect for beach camping.
Beach Camping Cooler
While many smaller coolers are designed for a day at the beach, you may want to invest in a larger option if you plan to spend days off the grid. Yeti has become the unofficial king of coolers and offers a nice range of choices that are great for beach camping.
If you want to cut straight to the front of the line, then check out the YETI Roadie 60-Wheeled Cooler. A true camping gear beast, it’s the next best thing to a fridge on wheels, with room for up to 98 cans or 68 lbs of ice.
See Related: Best Beach Bags With Cooler
When it comes to beach camping packing, sometimes the most challenging part is finding the perfect luggage. Patagonia has a great selection of choices, including the best-selling Black Hole Duffel Bag, which comes with both carrying handles and backpack straps.
Patagonia also makes a fully water-submergible Guidewater Sling Bag that’s great for toting valuables you might not want to leave unattended at your campsite.
Then there’s YETI’s Camino 35 Carry-All Tote Bag, which is a next-level tote bag designed to carry all your beach camping essentials. Made with waterproof materials, the Camino 35 Tote is great for carrying anything from wetsuits and extra towels to food containers or firewood.
Another one of our recent favorites is the durable water-resistant Travel Duffel from Peak Design, made from 100% recycled and sustainable materials. It doesn’t look too bad, either!
See Related: Best Travel Duffel Bags For Your Next Trip
Printable Beach Packing List
Want to cut to the chase? Download our printable beach packing list here:
What should you bring for a day at the beach?
Essential items include a beach bag to carry all your other stuff, including sunscreen and aloe vera, towels, beach blankets, snacks, drinks, and maybe a good book. You’ll also want to bring a hat, sunglasses, and your bathing suit.
Are there any specific beach items that are required for sun protection or safety?
Don’t let the sun get the best of you by ensuring your beach camping packing list includes essentials like UV protective sunglasses, a wide-brim hat, and sunscreen. Make sure you also pack lightweight, long sleeve shirts, loose pants, and shoes that cover your feet to stay protected when you’re not in the water.
How can I organize my beach gear and accessories efficiently after my trip?
Take our word for it – unload everything outside first when you get home so you can wash the sand off before bringing it into your house or garage. If you purchase a large cooler for your trip, it can also double as a great storage bin when you get home – otherwise, consider this Pack-Away Bin that comes with little storage cubes to help keep everything organized.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.