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The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List

beach bag with towel, sunscreen, and sunglasses on beach in front of ocean

Each year, millions of people flock to beautiful beaches and stunning shorelines to savor some well-deserved R&R. While your time on the beach should be relaxing, packing and prepping for your vacay can be hectic. Wondering what to pack in a beach bag? Don’t sweat the small stuff—read on for our comprehensive beach trip packing list, ten beach etiquette dos and don’ts, answers to the most frequently asked beach safety questions, and more.

Packing List for Beach Vacation 

There’s nothing worse than getting all the way to the beach and realizing you left your sunscreen, water bottle, or beach towels at home. To help you stay organized, following a summer beach packing list is key. Here are 50 beach bag essentials to add to your list of things to take to the beach:

Clothing & Shoes

  • Swimsuits 
  • Sun protection clothing 
  • Rash guard 
  • Cover-up or lightweight clothing 
  • Water shoes 
  • Sandals or flip-flops 

Accessories

  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Ball cap or sun hat
  • Beach or tote bag 
  • Cooler or insulated tote bag 
  • Ice or ice packs 
  • Insulated water bottle or cup
  • Snacks 
  • Water & other beverages 
  • Plates & napkins 
  • Reusable utensils 

aerial picture of sun hat, beach bag, and beach towel on sand

Skincare & Cosmetics 

  • Sunscreen 
  • SPF lip balm
  • After-sun lotion
  • Leave-in conditioner 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Brush or comb 

Entertainment

  • Books or e-reader 
  • Magazine 
  • Cards & games 
  • Headphones
  • Waterproof portable speaker 
  • Waterproof phone case 
  • Power bank & charging cord 
  • Journal & pen 

Get away and escape with a great read! Sure to take you to another place and time, here are five beach read books to add to your summer reading list.

Beach Gear

  • Beach chair
  • Beach towels 
  • Beach blanket 
  • Beach towel clips 
  • Beach umbrella or tent 
  • Shovels & buckets
  • Beach toys 
  • Snorkel supplies 
  • Inflatable rafts & floats 
  • Underwater camera 
  • Goggles 

Additional Items

  • First aid kit & basic medications 
  • Anti-theft bag or beach safe
  • Bug spray
  • Antibacterial wipes 
  • Cash 
  • Dry bags
  • Koozies 
  • Swim diapers
  • Trash bags 

The Ultimate Beach Bag Packing List

What You Should & Shouldn’t Do at the Beach

Not all beaches have formal rules; however, there are a few unspoken rules beachgoers should follow. Keep these ten beach etiquette dos and don’ts in mind to ensure everyone has a positive and peaceful beach experience:   

Beach Etiquette Dos

To be the best beach bum, you should:

  1. Wear sunscreen. Use appropriate sun protection factor (SPF) products and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. 
  2. Swim within the permitted areas. Heed signage, listen to lifeguard instructions and warnings, and only swim in marked zones. Pick up your trash. Bring a small trash bag to collect your garbage and dispose of it on your way out.   
  3. Be mindful of noise. Loud music and conversations can be disruptive—maintain a low volume, limit phone calls, and use headphones. 
  4. Watch kids and pets. It’s easy to get lost on busy beaches, so keep a close eye on kids. If pets are allowed, keep them leashed and clean up waste. 

Beach Etiquette Don’ts 

When you’re soaking up the warm sun and cool waves, don’t: 

  1. Crowd others. Leave at least 15 feet between you and another person’s chairs and towels, and don’t block anyone’s ocean view.    
  2. Feed seagulls. A swarming group of seagulls is annoying for patrons, and human food is bad for the birds
  3. Bring glass. Broken glass is hard to clean up and hazardous to wildlife; opt for cans and plastic bottles and containers instead.   
  4. Shake out your sandy items near others. Empty sand and seawater-covered belongings downwind and far away from others. 
  5. Leave valuables exposed. Unfortunately, beach theft is real. Secure and hide credit cards, keys, cash, and wallets.  

two beach chairs under an umbrella on the beach with child playing in sand

What Should I Keep My Money in at the Beach?

It’s safest to leave valuables and personal items, like credit cards and passports, at home. However, if they’re a must-have, here are a few places to stash your credit card, keys, and cash at the beach:

  • Zip-top bag buried under your towel or umbrella 
  • Lanyard around your neck
  • Anti-theft bag
  • Sturdy food storage container
  • Empty and clean sunscreen bottle with the top cut off

How Do You Hide Your Phone at the Beach?

Sand, sunscreen, sun, heat, and water can be disastrous for your smartphone. Protect your valuables and phone from damage and theft at the beach by:

  • Using a waterproof phone case
  • Putting tape over any phone openings 
  • Storing items in a zip-top or waterproof bag out of direct sunlight 
  • Hiding items in a clever place, like tucked under a beach towel or buried in the sand in a locked plastic bag  
  • Never leaving items unattended 

Continue the Summer Fun!

With our ultimate beach packing list, beach etiquette dos and don’ts, and safety tips and tricks, you’ll be set for a splendid day in the sun. Want even more summer fun now that you know what to pack for a beach vacation? Continue the good times on and off the beach by visiting one of the happiest cities in North America. These global hot spots boast exquisite architecture, delicious food, captivating histories, and much more!