In this post, I’m sharing my master list of things to take to the beach- the checklist I review every time I head to the water whether it’s a local Puget Sound coastline or a sun-drenched white sand beach. With extra mini-checklists to be sure you know how to enjoy the beach even if it’s cold and are prepared to enjoy beaches with firepits- this list will help make sure everything you need to take to the beach is packed and ready.
Your Beach Style
Everyone’s beach-going style is a little bit different, so the things you’ll need to pack to take to the beach might be different than my list. Additionally, the type of beach plays a big role in what things we’ll need to pack to enjoy our trip to the beach. In this post, I share my basic beach trip packing list, plus all the extra items I pack depending on whether I’m headed to a sand beach, a rocky beach, or a beach bonfire.
Packing for Different Types of Beaches
The things you’ll need at the beach vary by the kind of beach you visit (for example, chilly Pacific Northwest beaches in the winter require a very different beach packing list than a visit to the beach in a Florida summer!) My beach packing list includes items that are both universal and specific to certain types of beaches- since it’s definitely easier to cross things off the list than it is to realize you under packed for the beach you are visiting! If it’s easier, download my free beach packing list printable – a handy one-page reminder of everything you need to bring to enjoy a day relaxing on the beach.
Things to Take to the Beach: A Packing List
- beach towel
- beach chair
- umbrella + base
- OR tent
- baby powder
- book or magazines
- yoga mat or blocks
- travel journal + pen
- art supplies
- sandcastle building tools
- a mesh bag for shells or stones
- hobby supplies
- pullover or coat
- waterproof boots
- waterproof blanket
SWIM + WADE
- fins or goggles
- water shoes
- surf or body board
- diapers for swimming
- kid’s sunscreen
- extra towels
- more water
- small amount of cash
- bag for trash
- torch or lighter
- washable blanket
- metal fire pit
- supplies for s’mores
- Hotdogs skewers
- hot dogs and buns
What to Pack for the Beach: A Printable Beach Packing Checklist
It’s difficult to overstate just how important it is to pack well for the beach. Planning in advance what to pack, and having those items ready in a bag for your beach trip can make getting ready to go to the beach much less stressful- especially for people trying to make it to the beach with young children or a larger group of people. Through good planning, you can make it possible to arrive at the beach unstressed, enjoy the sun and surf safely, and avoid the after-effects (like sunburns!) of poor planning.
Download this Beach Packing List PDF
Download this Beach Packing List PDF
Who is this beach packing list for
This list of things to take to the beach is my attempt to be exhaustive- though it is a living document. If you find my list is missing essentials, please leave a comment below!
While the list is inclusive of all sorts of travelers (with the exception of very personal beach packing essentials like medications or medical devices) you should be able to cross off any item on this list that doesn’t apply to you, your family, or your beach, and be left with the remaining items which will be a near exhaustive packing list.
This packing list is appropriate for solo travelers headed to the beach, families planning for a day at the beach, or couples or friends who just want to get away and enjoy the beach with as little stress as possible
Recreational Things to Take to the Beach
Have you ever been on a pristine beach on a beautiful day and found yourself bored? I have.
Because of that, I always bring things to do to the beach. Whether that is a book to read, kite to fly, or even sandcastle building supplies, I don’t think there is an age limit on having fun at the beach.
Sandcastles. While most people think of building a sandcastle as the work of children, Sandcastle artists have shown us that sandcastle building can be a creative pursuit for adults as well. Building creations out of sculpted sand is one of my favorite activities to enjoy on the beach, and if I’m headed to a sandy beach, I always try to pack, pick up, or even borrow some sandcastle building supplies to take with me to the beach. (Hint: for expert results building enviable sandcastles, take a spray bottle to fill with water and an icing spatula)
Tips for Saving Money while Packing for the Beach
I’ve noticed how easy it is to spend truly unreasonable amounts of money on a single trip to the beach. When I moved to Seattle and discovered Buy Nothing groups, I found that I could reduce the cost of packing for a great time at the beach by simply asking other beachgoers if I could borrow their equipment.
Advertisers spend millions to convince us that maybe we should have her own equipment for every hobby “just in case”, it’s actually easy and more environmentally friendly to borrow what we need for a great trip to the beach. If your area has a Buy Nothing group or even a parents and family group where resources are shared, these can be a great place to begin gathering supplies to take to the beach without having to spend a fortune on specialty equipment like umbrellas or beach chairs designed to be used in the sand.
Many people have more beach supplies than they want, no longer need them, or are content to loan out their beach supplies to help a neighbor out. If you know that you’re planning a beach trip in the coming days or weeks, it can’t hurt to put some feelers out. You may be able to experience a really comfortable day at the beach with much nicer equipment than you would have been able to purchase on your own! As a bonus, by borrowing, you won’t have to store your own things for the beach in the off-season!
Best reading materials for the beach.
I’ve seen so many reading tablet boasting that the product can be read at the beach, that it’s almost easy to think it’s the norm. In fact, taking a tablet to a beach can often be a really bad idea. Unless someone will be tending to your belongings the entire time that you’re at the beach, avoid taking expensive technology to the beach. Instead, enjoy the feel of an old-fashioned paperback book or magazine while you enjoy fresh air and beach vibes.
Snacks and Meals on the Beach
While in my list of things to do on the beach I recommend checking out beachside cafes and restaurants, having a picnic can be a fun and less expensive way to enjoy a meal on the waterfront. When it comes to eating on the beach, many of the same meals that are great for road trips and for hotel room meals also make for easy-prep beach meals.
What to do with your phone at the beach
What to do with our phones at the beach become has remained a constant frustration for both solo travelers and those visiting the beach with companions. It feels almost impossible to leave our phones behind in a locked glove compartment or a hotel room safe- but equally horrifying is the prospect of water damage or theft of our precious devices on the beach.
One option for storing cell phones on the beach tends to be asking someone who looks trustworthy to watch our belongings (containing a cell phone wrapped in a bundle of non-descript clothing. One traveler even recommended tucking a phone into a used-looking diaper and leaving it behind on a towel, to discourage theft! Some travelers, though, opt for taking their phones with them into the water – waterproof phone holders are affordable and surprisingly durable, and if they do leak, many modern phones have the capacity to survive getting a little damp as long as they are dried out quickly.
Lynli Roman’s unique approach to travel is informed by decades of experience on the road with a traveling family and, later, years spent as a solo international traveler. When she’s not writing about Seattle from her Pike Place Market apartment, Lynli writes on-location while conducting hands-on research in each destination she covers. Lynli’s writing has been featured by MSN, ABC Money, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post. She is passionate about sharing information that makes travel more accessible for all bodies.