11 Beach Essentials You Need for Every Sun-Soaked Vacation

Everything you need for a day at the beach. 
Father and daughter at the beach (Photo: Shutterstock)
Photo: Shutterstock

Imagine arriving at the beach only to realize you’ve forgotten your beach towels, or, worse yet, other beach essentials like sunscreen or a beach tent. Don’t let your day on the sand go from sunny to sad—use this beach packing list to keep track of everything you need for a day at the beach.  

Beach Packing List for Families

A great day at the beach begins before you even leave the house, and it requires a little bit of planning on what to pack, especially when you’re bringing kids. Here are the must-have beach essentials to make any beach day complete.

Beach Essentials for Families

You know what you need to bring, but that’s just the start when it comes to packing for the beach. Here are a few hand-picked beach essentials that that get great all-around reviews.

1. COMISO Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers

COMISO Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers (Photo: Amazon)
COMISO Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers (Photo: Amazon)

Perfect for pool parties, family beach vacations, campgrounds, backyard staycations, and even outdoor movie nights, Bluetooth wireless speakers up the fun quotient for any family gathering. For a day at the beach or on a boat, you’ll want speakers that are durable, have a long battery life, and—most importantly—are waterproof.

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The COMISO Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers check all the boxes and will crank your favorite tunes for up to 36 hours on a single charge, and you can pair two of them together for true left-right stereo sound. Their rugged design means they’re shock-proof, sand-proof, and waterproof for up to 30 minutes under water, so you don’t have to worry about ruining these beach essentials after just a few outings.

2. YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler

YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler (Photo: Amazon)
YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler (Photo: Amazon)

There’s a reason so many people are obsessed with the YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler. Well, several reasons, actually. This cooler has a rotomolded armored construction, making it virtually indestructible—even if a kid (or two) sit on it while you’re hauling what seems to be enough snacks and beverages for a small village.

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Thankfully, this model holds a ton of food. Available in multiple colors and sizes, the portable cooler has a durable welded aluminum handle with comfortable grips, puncture-resistant wheels, and extra-thick walls crafted from polyurethane foam that provide two inches of insulation. No more melted ice!

3. LifeProof Waterproof Phone Case

LifeProof Waterproof Phone Case (Photo: LifeProof)
LifeProof Waterproof Phone Case (Photo: LifeProof)

Any parent who’s ever watched in horror as their smartphone falls into the ocean (usually in slow-motion) will wonder why they didn’t pick up a waterproof case or waterproof pouch for their phone. LifeProof makes some of the best protective phone cases on the market. They’re scratch-proof, shock-proof, and also keep out dust and sand, while giving you full access to your phone’s buttons and controls.

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The LifeProof FRE series is an especially good choice for the beach. You can find these waterproof cases for most models, including the iPhone 13, iPhone 12, iPhone 11, and Android devices as well. If you use your phone to snap adorable photos of your kids anywhere near water or sand, this is a must-pack. 

4. CGear Sandlite Sand-Free Beach Mat

CGear Sandlite Sand-Free Beach Mat (Photo: Amazon)
CGear Sandlite Sand-Free Beach Mat (Photo: Amazon)

How many times have you tried to pack up a giant beach blanket or mat only to get covered in sand? Plus, regular beach blankets take forever to dry out. You don’t have to live that way anymore—the CGear Sandlite Sand-Free Beach Mat is not only durable and water-resistant (hello, wet children’s feet!), it’s also made from a one-way sift material originally designed for military use.

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The two-layer system means sand, dirt, and dust fall through the fabric of this beach mat, but can’t come back up, making these mats ideal for picnics, camping, or napping. And if you spill a drink, it’s no problem—this beach mat beads up and wipes away easily. Available in 10 colors and three sizes, these lightweight-yet-sturdy beach essentials roll up and feature a carrying handle.

5. Rheos Wyecreeks Round Floating Polarized Sunglasses

Rheos Wyecreeks Round Floating Polarized Sunglasses (Photo: Amazon)
Rheos Wyecreeks Round Floating Polarized Sunglasses (Photo: Amazon)

It’s important to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays while at the beach, even when you’re in the water. The ultra-light Rheos Wyecreeks Round Floating Polarized Sunglasses feature a sport frame and anti-scratch and anti-glare lenses that offer total shelter from the sun. Best of all, if you drop them in the water you can actually find them again.

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The polarized nylon optics means you’ll see perfectly clearly. Whether you love body surfing, fishing, or boating, these sunglasses are must-have beach essentials. And they come with a lifetime warranty. 

6. L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Beach Bag

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote (Photo: llbean.com)
L.L. Bean Boat and Tote (Photo: llbean.com)

Ever noticed that all the small beach essentials—from sippy cups and sunscreen to towels and toys—end up squished in your beach bag? Well, if you’re going to be the master Sherpa, you’ll need sturdy gear, and why shouldn’t it also look great?

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The heavyweight cotton canvas L.L. Bean Boat and Tote combines classic beach bag style style with a sturdiness that will last you for years—maybe even until your kids are all grown up. The reinforced handles and bottom and double-stitched seams make it extra rugged, and the choice of open or zipped top gives you design options to customize it just the way you want. You can even have the bag monogrammed for an extra preppy vibe.

7. WolfWise 4 Person Easy Up Beach Tent

WolfWise 4 Person Easy Up Beach Tent (Photo: Amazon)
WolfWise 4 Person Easy Up Beach Tent (Photo: Amazon)

Sun-loving families also need shade, and the lightweight WolfWise 4 Person Easy Up Beach Tent offers the perfect SPF 50+ shelter. This instant beach tent is designed so one person can set it up in seconds. The 9.5mm-thick fiberglass poles offer sturdy support, and the tent comes with three sandbags, four wind ropes, and 10 stakes so that once you put it up, it stays up, even on the windiest days.

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A zippered door helps transform the beach tent into a portable changing room or a cool place for babies or toddlers to take a mid-day snooze, while three large mesh windows provide ventilation. Three mesh storage bags hang inside, so you can safely store books, phones, baseball caps, and other small beach essentials. There’s room inside for four people, and a front porch section where you can set up your beach chairs.

8. FlexSafe Portable Beach Safe by AquaVault

FlexSafe by AquaVault (Photo: Amazon)
FlexSafe by AquaVault (Photo: Amazon)

Forget hiding your credit cards, cash, and phone in your shoes (it’s the first place thieves look). Instead, invest in an anti-theft FlexSafe by AquaVault, which locks onto your beach umbrella or the back of your lounge chair.

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This slash-resistant, heavy-duty personal safe keeps your valuables out of reach while you jump in the waves with the kiddos. Made of RFID-blocking materials, this small but essential item for the beach has several storage pockets for the things you can’t take with you in the water.

9. BPS Lightweight Bodyboard with Wrist Leash

BPS Lightweight Bodyboard with Wrist Leash (Photo: Amazon)
BPS Lightweight Bodyboard with Wrist Leash (Photo: Amazon)

Bodysurfing is a blast, except when your board cracks or bubbles from the heat, or disappears because of a flimsy cord. It’s worth shelling out a few bucks more for the BPS Lightweight Bodyboard with Wrist Leash, which comes with a strong coiled TPU wrist leash and neoprene cuff, so you won’t lose it if (when) you wipe out.

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It also has a high-speed HPDE slick bottom surface for the ultimate gliding experience. This lightweight board features an EPS core for buoyancy and is perfect for any wave conditions. Available in three sizes—for riders up to 65 pounds, up to 120 pounds, or up to 188 pounds—this beach essential offers easy balance for younger body-surfers and better maneuverability for experienced ones.  

10. RIO Beach 4-Position Lace-Up Backpack Folding Beach Chair

RIO Beach 4-Position Lace-Up Backpack Folding Beach Chair (Photo: Amazon)
RIO Beach 4-Position Lace-Up Backpack Folding Beach Chair (Photo: Amazon)

You only have two hands, so it’s important to purchase folding beach chairs with reinforced backpack shoulder straps. We like the RIO Beach 4-Position Lace-Up Backpack Folding Beach Chair because not only is it easy to carry, but the lightweight aluminum frame is rust-proof and weighs just eight pounds. For long days at the shore, we love having four reclining positions and a flexible lace-up suspension design that conforms to the body for extra comfort.

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The chair fabric features bar tack stitching that reinforces its strength, so these chairs will last multiple seasons. There’s a removable foam pillow and cup holder, plus a large storage pouch on the back of the chair to store magazines, water bottles, sandals, and other little beach essentials. The chair has a capacity of 240 pounds, which is great for those parents who rarely have fewer than two kids on their laps. 

11. RIO Beach Wonder Wheeler Wide Beach Cart

RIO Beach Wonder Wheeler Wide Beach Cart (Photo: Amazon)
RIO Beach Wonder Wheeler Wide Beach Cart (Photo: Amazon)

Nothing makes your trip to the water easier than a wheeled cart to carry all of your other beach essentials (and occasionally a small child) to and from the beach. Stuff your towels, sunscreen, beach reads, hats, sunglasses, and everything else into the RIO Beach Wonder Wheeler Wide Beach Cart, a foldable cart with an extended, stroller-style handle with neoprene grip, all-terrain wheels, side umbrella holder, and a removable tote bag.

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Wendy Helfenbaum
Montreal-based Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist, content strategist, and TV producer who writes for dozens of digital and print magazines, as well as many brands. Wendy loves cruising, adventure travel, and venturing off the beaten path with her husband and teenage son, and she can pack a carry-on bag like nobody’s business.

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