Ahhh, the beach. It’s a dream vacation for some people and a weekend getaway or day trip for others.

No matter the reason for your day of relaxation, you want to be prepared. Whether it’s a tropical paradise or a lakeside beach, everyone needs certain items to have fun in the sun and the sand.

What you bring, and how much of it, will depend on how long you plan on staying. But any beach trip, from two hours to the whole day, needs to include these five essential items:

1. Towels, Chairs, and Beach Mats

Towels are a must-have for drying off from the water, but they’re no fun to lay on. Sand gets everywhere. Even if you can keep it off of you when you’re on the towel, when you pick it up, it’s a mess.

Beach chairs eliminate this problem, and they’re a lot more comfortable, too. Today’s chairs are convenient and lightweight, so it’s not a hassle to lug them across the sandy beach.

There are many different features to choose from, depending on your preferences and budget:

  • If you’re a beach napper or a sunbather, multi-position reclining chairs are calling your name.
  • Too much heat is never a good thing, but with canopied chairs, you get the perks of sun and fun without the direct rays.
  • When size matters, look for chairs that offer high-rise seats to keep you from being too low to the ground or have a higher maximum weight capacity.

Planning a picnic on the beach? Leave the sheets and towels behind and opt for a mat instead. These lightweight sand-repellant mats fold into a tiny bag for easy carrying.

They keep the beach where it belongs — out of your food!

2. A Cooler Bag and Snacks

Bulky, hard coolers are difficult to carry across a sandy beach. They also drag sand, leak water, and make all kinds of other messes.

Cooler bags are the preferred way to keep your refreshments on ice. There are various size options to hold anything from a few beverages to enough to keep the party going.

Look for a bag made of leak-proof material with a waterproof covering, or you may end up with a mess.

Brands like Yeti consistently demonstrate quality. Their cooler bags are made with ColdCell Insulation to keep your drinks icy for longer periods. The patented DryHide Shell that Yeti is known for is mildew resistant, puncture resistant, and waterproof.

Once you have your cooler bag, all that’s left is to get everyone to agree on the drinks and snacks!

3. Sun Protectants

You’ve heard about the dangers of UV rays from the sun on unprotected skin. This is true in your own backyard, but the beach is a hotbed of radiant light ready to damage your skin.

Because light rays reflect off the surface, you are exposed to extra UV whenever you swim in the ocean or another body of water. You’re having fun and not thinking about getting burned, either, making it even more likely to happen.

Even relaxing in your chair on the beach is unsafe without proper protection. The sun’s rays reflect just as menacingly off of the glinting sand.

To prevent painful burns and potential skin cell damage, make sure you pack items like:

  • Lip balm
  • Sunhats
  • A beach umbrella or tent

Many bathing suits are made of UV-blocking material, too. The more skin you can cover, the safer you’ll be.

4. Beachwear

You’re obviously going to have a swimsuit. But beachwear goes beyond the basics, and you don’t want to realize when you get there that you forgot something essential.

When you’re buying for your beach trip, add a cover-up to your shopping list. These keep you protected from the sun and double as an outfit in case you have to go into a store. Many places won’t let you inside if you’re in a bathing suit only.

Water shoes are another helpful essential. The sand on the beach is usually hot, and once you get into the water, the rocks and shells are painful. With water shoes, you avoid the cuts and scrapes and can do the stingray shuffle to chase away any unwanted ocean life.

The finishing touch to your beachwear outfit is a waterproof phone case. Capturing the memories of your loved ones frolicking in the water is priceless, but a damaged smartphone is price-y.

5. Entertainment

If you’re packing for a family, entertainment is a must-have. Not everyone is going to be satisfied relaxing on the sand or playing in the water all day. Age-appropriate beach toys prevent the “I’m bored” chorus from ruining your peaceful day.

Sand sports are a crowd-pleaser. After all, what’s a beach trip without a volleyball or beach ball? If you’d rather avoid long-distance games, try a velcro paddle ball kit.

Check with the local ordinances on the beach. If music is allowed, grab your Bluetooth speaker for some tunes.

When your furry companion is part of the family, they love to play at the beach, too. Find a pet-friendly place to visit, and don’t forget the dog toys, water dish, and food.

Keep in mind: If the sand is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for Fido’s, as well!

Read More: 6 Beach Safety Tips for Families with Small Kids


A trip to the beach can be a family-friendly day of fun and sun. But if you’re not prepared, it can be a stressful headache.

Make sure you and your family are ready for a long, enjoyable day of ocean waves and sandcastles by adding these essential items to your packing list.