Our Ultimate List of Things to Bring to the Beach + Best Tips for Families
Are you looking for a list of fun things to bring to the beach so that you don’t leave anything behind?
Being properly packed and prepared with the necessary things to bring to the beach is essential to ensure a fun, relaxing, and hassle-free beach day.
After all, who wants to leave the sun, surf, and sand for a forgotten item once you’ve finally gotten settled in?
Here’s our awesome list of things to take to the beach for a day as well as what to take to the beach for a week!
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Things to Bring to the Beach
When the sky is clear and the temperatures are warm, many families head to the beach for a day of swimming, relaxation, and building sandcastles.
Take the stress out of planning for a family beach day by discovering the necessary things to bring to the beach that includes items to promote shade, comfort, and fun.
Using my beach bag packing checklist and best tips for visiting the beach will ensure that you’re fully prepared for a day of maximum enjoyment at the beach!
1. A family beach bag
For any trip to the pool or beach that requires swimsuits, towels, goggles, sunscreen, etc, a family beach bag is an absolute sanity saver.
Not only do beach bags allow you to tote all of your gear around, but they are essential for your overall organization.
My personal preference in selecting a beach bag is that it is both stylish and functional!
Stylish meaning that it is a solid color or classic pattern. Functional in that it is collapsible, oversized (the bigger the better), and made of a breathable material that can dry easily.
I also prefer a few waterproof, zippered pockets where you can safely store keys, money, your phone, and other loose ends.
I am so passionate about trendy and functional beach bags, that I’ve written an entire article about it.
Check out my list (with links to shop) of the best beach for bags for moms!
2. A sand-free beach blanket
When heading to the beach, don’t forget to pack an outdoor blanket or beach mat that is easy to fold as well as easy to clean and shake off.
The idea is to create an area where you and your littles can hang out, dry off, picnic, and relax without the sand clumping up and getting into everything.
Our giant, oversized, sand-free beach blanket is our favorite multi-purpose beach essential that most families tend to forget.
In fact, during our recent family vacation to Siesta Key, we used our beach blanket to both relax and picnic on, being sure to shake the sand off in between uses.
3. Sun-protective clothing
Dress your kids in sun-protective swimwear for ultimate protection from harmful UV rays.
We love this list of the best baby wetsuits and rashguards that provide added protection for infants and older babies.
For adults, hands-down the best UV protective clothing is made by Coolibar and we don’t head to the beach without our rash guard shirts!
Additional sun-protective gear that you should bring to the beach includes sun hats and sunglasses for the entire family.
4. Waterproof sandals
Waterproof, yet durable flip flops, sandals, or water shoes are necessary items to bring to the beach.
Once a child’s feet are sandy and wet, the last thing you’ll want to do is to try to fit on a pair of tight tennis shoes that will be impossible to get on.
Instead, opt for breathable sandals that can easily transition from the sand onto the park or pavement.
A sturdy pair of sandals will also protect a child’s feet from unexpected glass or other dangerous items found in the sand.
In addition, it will provide comfort when walking across hard-packed sand such as that found on Daytona Beach, Florida.
Additional planning tip: Heading to the beach with teens? There’s an ultra-trendy pair of sandals, perfect for the beach, that made our recent list of the top travel gifts for teens!
5. Beach towels
Make sure that you have at least one beach towel per person when accounting for things to pack for the beach.
And don’t forget a towel for yourself!
If going on vacation, however, check to see if your resort or hotel supplies beach towels.
If you happen to be staying somewhere that provides swim towels, don’t bother to bring your own and save yourself the space and the work of having to launder them later.
Additional planning tip: Perhaps just as essentials as a beach towel itself, are beach umbrella hooks.
These handy hooks are the perfect solution for hanging up wet towels between trips in and out of the water.
6. Sunscreen for the entire family
One of the most essential travel tips and beach must haves is sunscreen!
…And plenty of it if you plan on spending a full day at the beach or pool!
Be sure that your sunscreen is 30 SPF or higher and blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
Our family of 5 goes through 1 spray bottle of sunscreen every 3 days when vacationing in tropical climates.
Additional planning tip: Apply sunscreen before getting to the beach or pool for maximum absorption and less hassle upon arrival.
7. Various sizes of Ziplock bags
No need to purchase expensive waterproof pouches for your beach trip.
A Ziplock bag is great for putting cell phones and other items in to protect them from getting wet.
Likewise, I use sandwich-size baggies to keep cash (for tipping poolside and beach waiters at all-inclusive resorts) from getting wet, and also, for the kids to put seashells in as they walk along the shore.
And finally, keep your various sunscreens from falling to the bottom of the beach bag by putting them into a gallon-sized Ziplock bag.
8. Swim g
If your kids enjoy swimming like ours do bring along 2 pairs of goggles for each child.
It never fails that someone will accidentally lose a pair in the ocean or leave them by the pool, so having a backup will come in handy when looking to keep everyone happy.
Similar to toting around sunscreen, I store everyone’s swim goggles in a gallon Ziplock bag that is then stored in the beach bag for easy organization.
9. Beach ball and sand toys
Must-have beach items include a beach ball and sand toys!
Take a trip to your local dollar store and stock up on inexpensive beach balls and sand toys like pails, rock strainers, and sand molds.
Different from a beach bag, I use a giant mesh sand toy bag for day trips to our local beach when I have a lot of toys along.
10. Beach shovels and pails
Every kid loves to dig and build when at the beach!
For that reason, be sure to leave room in your beach bag to bring along the necessary beach items required to make a classic sandcastle or to execute an epic sand dig!
Having a beach shovel with a sturdy handle that won’t break mid-construction is a must.
If you have enough room, collapsible sand pails are fun, additional things to bring to the beach.
Additional planning tip: You may run into a family on their vacation departure day who offers to give you their sand and/or pool toys.
This is a win for them to not have to haul them home, and just as good for you to score some new stuff!
11. A small first aid kit
It never fails that someone will need a bandaid or other simple first aid supply, especially if you happen to come across a rocky beach or slippery pool deck.
By remembering to bring a first aid kit with you when you go to the beach, you’ll be able to treat any bumps and bruises that may present.
Water – resistant speaker and headphones
One of my favorite beach bag essentials is my water-resistant Bluetooth speaker.
This JBL Flip 4 speaker is a perfect travel size, and has amazing sound quality!
Our kids also love bringing along waterproof headphones.
My family loves to listen to music quietly as we are relaxing on the beach and it is important to have equipment that can withstand accidentally getting wet.
If they have friends hanging around the pool, they love playing music then too!
13. Hair ties and a tangle-free wet brush
One of the best things to bring to the beach with kids is a detangler hairbrush!
Likewise, don’t forget hair ties to free you or your child’s long hair from the water and wind.
14. Baby wipes
Perhaps the most universal product when traveling, or doing anything with kids for that matter, is a handy pack of baby wipes.
Need a quick clean-up after a messy snack?
Need to soothe a runny nose?
Regardless of what you use them for, baby wipes are one of those items for the beach that you’ll never regret having brought along.
15. Snacks and bottled water
Similar to road trip snacks, opt for snacks that are portable and mess-free when considering a food packing list for a beach vacation or trip to the beach.
Insert all of your personal preferences when it comes to fun and healthy snacks and beverages to keep you and your littles hydrated and fed.
Meanwhile, keep food safety in mind by making sure that perishables are kept chilled in an insulated tote or soft-sided cooler, along with any chocolate that will otherwise surely melt.
We recently purchased and love, this collapsible cooler that can easily be stored in a suitcase if you’re flying to a beach destination.
16. Sand Coasters
The following beach vacation accessory isn’t necessary, but they’re one of my must haves for the beach!
In fact, we always bring along our sand coasters for a day on the beach, as they protect our water bottles, cell phones, sunglasses, and sunscreen close by and free of sand.
Because of their convenience and compactness, our sand coasters have become a beach essential that we don’t leave home without.
17. A bag for trash
Save yourself several trips to the garbage by bringing along your own trash bag that you can easily dispose of on your way out.
18. A beach umbrella and anchor
Having a source of shade is absolutely essential if you are visiting the beach with kids.
Therefore, if you are heading to the beach on a road trip or are using personal transportation to get to the beach, bringing a portable beach umbrella is key.
Keep in mind, however, that it is just as essential to bring the right gear to hold your umbrella in place during those unexpected gusts of wind.
With this handy sand anchor, you can safely secure your umbrella’s pole into the sand with just a few twists.
19. A safety floatation device
If you have young kids who aren’t fully capable swimmers, a personal floatation device should definitely be on your family beach trip packing list.
Whether it’s a full life jacket or a Puddle Jumper, fit them snuggly around your child and you’ll feel more relaxed when they’re around the water.
20. Beach chairs
Another thing to bring to the beach if you are driving there, or for instance, staying at an Airbnb vs. VRBO that provides them, is a beach chair.
Beach chairs (like these!) provide ultimate relaxation and comfort while lounging on the beach.
The other thing I love about having a beach chair (versus just sitting on a blanket or towel) is that it helps me to sit comfortably upright to watch the kids while they’re playing in the water and allows for a better view of the ocean.
Things to Take to the Beach For A Week
Your packing list for a beach vacation will be impacted the most by whether or not you are flying to your destination, or are driving in your own vehicle.
If you are flying, you’re very limited to the size of items that can fit into a suitcase, as well as the subsequent weight of your luggage.
If you’re driving, depending on the storage space in your vehicle, you may have room to bring bigger, bulkier items such as a full-size cooler, beach umbrella, and beach chairs.
We recently wrote an entire article on what to pack or Florida for a week-long vacation.
This article assumes that you are flying, and gives you ideas on the clothing, toiletries, and stuff for the beach that can be packed into a suitcase.
In addition, we have another article on what to pack for Mexico if you happen to be looking for some suggestions on all-inclusive beach vacation must haves.
Best Beach Tips For Families
- Never take your eyes off of your kids. Watch for big waves that can unexpectedly take them under and be ready to react.
- During the hot summer months, plan your beach time for the morning, early afternoon, or after dinner when temperatures aren’t as hot.
- If you’re looking to avoid crowds, the best time to go to the beach is either early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Most of the tourists hit the beach between 10am and 2pm, and then everybody starts leaving between 3pm and 5pm.
- Stay hydrated and always have a water bottle on hand as the sun and heat can really sneak up on you and the kids.
- Wear loose fitting clothing.
- When it comes to things to take to the beach for teenagers, I’d include music, headphones, and a speaker, along with a book, magazine, football, or frisbee.
- Plan ahead for where you’re going to park when going to the beach. At most public beaches, parking can be limited and spots fill up quickly. Have a back-up plan if the lot is full.
- Check ahead of time if the beach you are visiting has concession stands, chair rentals, public restrooms, and other things to do for kids such as a splash pad, playground, or adjacent swimming pool.
Did I miss any of your favorite beach or pool essentials or things for the beach? If so, I’d love for you to comment below!Jen
If you like our article on What to Bring to the Beach, click here to check out our Related Posts:
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