What to Bring to the Beach: The Ultimate Packing List for Families

Be prepared for any wave that comes your way with this beach packing list!

Published May 10, 2023
Beach bag with objects, glasses, towel, shovel, flip-flops, book etc that surface, laid on the beach at sunset

Are you all tide up at the moment trying to figure out what to pack for your beach vacation? Whale, we are here to help! This list details what to bring to the beach no matter who is in your landing party.

Top 26 Beach Essentials for Everyone

No matter if you are heading to the beach solo or with your whole family in tow, you can get ready for a stress-free beach day by packing these essentials.


Sunscreen is quite possibly the most important item to pack! Beautiful white sandy beaches and clear blue ocean waters are reflective surfaces, which means they make you more likely to burn. Be proactive and apply this skin protectant before you arrive and throughout your time on the seashore.

Need to Know

Depending on your destination, many beaches are now requiring visitors to bring reef-safe sunscreen. Check the rules before you arrive so that you can stay sun safe without any issues!

Bathing Suit

Make sure that you are water ready with the right swim gear! Adults can choose the style that best suits them, but for kids, consider apparel with more coverage, like a rash guard. This will help to protect them from getting burned, and it limits the amount of sunscreen reapplication that's necessary.


Once the fun is done, you need a way to dry off. When it comes to towels, it's generally better to have more than less. We recommend bringing an extra towel for every two people who will be in your party. For instance, if you have four people, bring at least six towels.


Everyone also needs a pair of shades so that their eyes can stay protected. Just remember that not all sunglasses are created equal. Look for options with UV protection that are polarized. Also, in this case, bigger is better. You want those lenses to fully cover your eyes!

Helpful Hack

Keep your sunglasses clean by bringing along an extra bottle of water, a mini bottle of dish soap, and a small microfiber cloth.

Sun hats are also a spectacular accessory for the beach. The wide brim will shade your face as well as your neck. For kids, look for hats that come with a flap that covers their ears and neck.

Water Shoes

Feeling the sand between your toes in such a relaxing feeling, until a shell, rock, or piece of coral scrapes your foot. Flip-flops are nice to have for the car, but water shoes are your best bet for keeping your feet safe on sandy and hot surfaces. There's also much less of a risk of these shoes breaking in transit.

Change of Sun Safe Clothing

For those planning a whole day of beach fun, consider a change of clothes that includes some sun safe options. Many people don't realize that you can buy clothing with sun protection built right in! When the label says "UPF 50+," it means that the material will block out 98% of the sun's harmful rays. Brands like Coolibar and Free Fly are both great choices.

Plenty of Water

Hydration is paramount when in the sun. Pack a few bottles of water for every person in your party. Better yet, freeze the bottles the night before and throw them in your cooler. This ensures they are chilly when you need to refresh your palate and they can double as ice packs for your food.

Food and Snacks for the Beach

Happy kids eating watermelon on the beach

Speaking of food, no beach day is complete without lunch and some snacks! We recommend items with a high water content. This can further ensure that everyone stays hydrated throughout your fun in the sun.

Baby Powder or Cornstarch

When it is time to go, leave the sand at the beach by bringing along a bottle of baby powder or small box of cornstarch!

Essential Electronics

Elevate your beach experience with the right tunes -and guarantee that you have a way to get in contact with others if an emergency were to arise - by bringing the most essential electronics to your beach spot.

  • Cell phone

  • Waterproof portable speaker

  • Wireless charger and cord

Plastic Bags

Speaking of electronics, the last thing you want is that salty water destroying your phone. Ziploc bags are a simple and affordable solution! Bring a handful so that everyone is covered.

First Aid Kit

As mentioned above, you never really know what is lurking below the surface of the sand. Having a first aid kit can be a lifesaver when cuts and scrapes occur, as well as when unexpected allergic reactions arise. The best items to include are:

  • Waterproof bandaids

  • Alcohol Swabs

  • Tweezers

  • Gauze

  • Tylenol

  • Antihistamines (like Benadryl)

  • Disposable gloves

Quick Tip

If you have girls who are of puberty age or older, make sure to also pack some feminine hygiene products. They may not be quite as in tune with the timing of their cycle so having options for them is important.

Bug Repellant

Another safety item to have on hand is bug spray. We don't think about it, nor do we want to, but the sand is home to an array of bugs, including fleas. Yes, you read that right. Bug spray is a great option to keep these pests and pesky mosquitoes from biting.

Hand Sanitizer

Whether you are cleaning a wound or simply wanting a snack, having hand sanitizer is another important item to add to your beach packing list. We recommend regular hand sanitizer for adults and then Wet Wipes for kids.

Beach Chairs

Don't leave the beach with a backache! Beach chairs are a great investment for the folks who are not visiting an all-inclusive resort. Look for lightweight and foldable options with a drink holder to get the best bang for your buck.

Beach Umbrella or Canopy

If you have a large number of adults coming for your beach day fun, make sure that everyone can get ample shade by packing a canopy or a few beach umbrellas. This is a fin-tastic way to help everyone stay sun safe.

Beach Essentials When You Have Babies & Kids in Tow

When you have littles, any travel involves packing for what seems like an eternity. Thankfully, we have narrowed down the most essential items to pack for your beautiful beach day.

Swim Diapers

If you are bringing a baby or toddler with you to the beach, swim diapers are a must. This keeps everything secure and sanitary for everyone around you. We advise bringing a handful of disposable swim diapers as well as a couple of reusable swim diapers to wear over top. This makes diaper changes much easier and allows parents to put a new, dry reusable diaper back on without a struggle.

Life Jackets

Water safety is imperative. It only takes a second for your little one to disappear and ocean waters are not something that you want to contend with. This means packing life jackets for your whole crew. When shopping for this beach essential for kids, look for:

  • A Coast Guard approved device

  • Make sure it is snug to their chest.

  • Tug on the shoulder straps and ensure that it doesn't rise above their ears.

  • Read the fine print and make certain that it is rated for the weight of your child.

  • If possible, find ones that have neck collar supports.

Need to Know

Water wings and puddle jumpers are not the same as a life jacket. These will not guarantee your child's safety, especially in a strong ocean current. Parents may want to consider investing in a life jacket instead.

Beach Tent

Little ones need a lot more shade than the rest of us. Instead of lugging a giant canopy with you, small family groups can consider digging out their old camping tents! This can be a great alternative that will not only provide some shade, but it will also give them a space to escape the sand.

Beach Toys

Beach toys are a must when you are bringing kids to the beach. Parents can pack:

  • Inflatables

  • Beach ball, football, or soccer ball

  • Shovels

  • Buckets

  • Sand castle molds

  • Frisbee

  • Boogie boards

  • Goggles

  • Snorkels and masks

Father and son playing with flying disc

Pick the items that you think match the age range of your kids and leave the rest. For families with older kids, consider taking a poll before you pack. What items do them deem the most important for beach fun?

Delicates Bag

Once your day in the sun is done, don't bring the sand along with you. A delicates laundry bag is a simple way to shake off the sand so that your car stays clean!

Portable Pump

If inflatables are in tow, then don't waste your breath! A portable pump is a spectacular tool to have that can make a parent's life much easier and speeds up the fun.

Battery-Powered Fans

Babies and little kids tend to overheat quickly, so having a portable solution is a wonderful idea for families who plan to spend a lot of time by the water.

Fitted Sheet or Inflatable Kiddie Pool

Unfortunately, what we picture a beach day looking like doesn't always pan out when toddlers are along for the ride. Sensory issues can arise quickly in sandy situations, making the beach a big trigger. This can be easily remedied by bringing along a fitted sheet to line your beach spot.

An inflatable kiddie pool can also do the trick or you can use it as a safe space for littles to enjoy the water without the worry of the waves. Either way, it is a helpful addition to a beach vacation that can effortlessly slip into your travel bag.


Carting stuff around with kids is never fun. Having a wagon to house all of these items can make the experience much more enjoyable for mom and dad and this space can double as a perfect nap space for babies and toddlers.

Beach Vacation Packing List

If your trip to the beach is for longer than a day, there are some additional clothing items that you should add to your list! These include:

  • Two to three swimsuits

  • Two to three rash guards or sun safe apparel options

  • One to two coverups

  • One shirt for every day of your vacation

  • One pair of shorts for every day of your vacation

  • Undergarments for every day of your vacation

  • Sleepwear for every day of your vacation

  • A pair of socks for every day of your vacation

  • At least one pair of pants (you never know when you may get burned)

  • A sweatshirt or light jacket

  • At least one nicer outfit for dinner

  • A pair of walking shoes

  • A pair of swim shoes

  • One pair of shoes for a nice evening out

  • Any other accessories to match your nicer outfits

Of course, you will also need toiletries, extra cash, and some after-burn lotion, just in case the sunscreen reapplication gets forgotten.

Packing Beach Essentials Can Help Ensure You Seas the Day

Family beach days are spectacular, as long as you come prepared with the right items. This list might seem like a lot, but it will help you handle any rough waves that suddenly arise while you are in the midst of your beach day.

What to Bring to the Beach: The Ultimate Packing List for Families