Beach Vacation Packing List: What to Pack for a Beach Vacation

How to pack for your beach getaway vacation

Written by Eagle Creek on

Eagle Creek was established in 1975 by Steve and Nona Barker, a couple who revered the planet and explored it accordingly. In the process, they invented an entirely new product category: adventure travel gear. Half a century later, no one offers more expertly conceived and crafted gear for experiencing the earth in every hemisphere. Thoughtful, sustainable, function-forward solutions inspired by the belief that travel can be a force for good.

The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List: Your Key to Stress-Free Travel

Nothing says summer like the sound of the ocean, the scent of sunscreen, and all your beach essentials on hand for a day of sun and fun. A beach vacation is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life - the sandy shores, the calming sound of waves, and the promise of relaxation beckon us to unwind and rejuvenate. However, the path to a stress-free beach getaway is paved with careful planning, and one essential tool to use is a beach vacation packing list.

Having a packing list for a beach vacation is crucial in guiding you through the decisions involved in preparing for your trip. From essential clothing items to entertainment options, every detail matters when it comes to ensuring a seamless beach vacation.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the must-have items for your beach packing list. By following this guide and tailoring it to your specific needs, you'll be equipped to tackle any beach adventure with ease and confidence. So, let's dive in and uncover the key essentials for your ultimate travel packing list.


Preparing to surf at an overcast beach


Beach Vacation Packing List: What to Pack for a Beach Vacation

Whether you're jetting off to the sandy shores of Hawaii, embarking on a weekend getaway to a nearby coastal town, or planning a tropical retreat to paradise, this packing list has you covered.

We've curated a list of essentials to ensure you're well-prepared for any beach adventure. So, grab your sunscreen and beach towel, and let's dive into the ultimate beach trip packing list.

Essential Clothing and Footwear for Your Beach Getaway

Selecting versatile clothing and footwear ensures comfort and style throughout your getaway. Here's a detailed rundown of essential clothing and footwear items to pack for your beach vacation:

  • Tank tops: Pack a variety of tank tops in breathable fabrics to keep you cool during hot days at the beach.
  • Shorts: Versatile and easy to mix and match, shorts are suitable for both beach outings and casual daytime activities.
  • Dresses: Flowy sundresses are a beach vacation staple, offering effortless style and comfort. Choose lightweight fabrics that dry quickly for added convenience.
  • Pajamas: Don't forget to pack comfortable sleepwear for relaxing evenings after a day of fun in the sun.
  • Underwear: Stock up on enough underwear for your trip, including moisture-wicking options for hot and humid climates.
  • Workout clothes: If you plan to stay active during your beach vacation, pack workout clothes such as leggings, shorts, and moisture-wicking tops for exercising or yoga sessions by the shore.
  • Lightweight jacket: While beach destinations are known for their warmth, evenings can sometimes get chilly. Bring along a lightweight jacket or cardigan to layer up when temperatures drop.
  • Cover-ups: For added sun protection and versatility, choose stylish cover-ups such as sarongs or lightweight beach dresses to throw on over your swimsuit.
  • Sandals: Water-resistant sandals are the perfect travel shoes for daytime beach activities. Look for options with arch support and secure straps for long walks along the shore.
  • Flip-flops: Perfect for slipping on and off at the beach or poolside, flip-flops are a must-have for any beach vacation packing list.
  • Nicer shoes: Pack a pair of dressier shoes for evenings out or dinners at beachfront restaurants. Opt for versatile styles that can complement various outfits.
  • Purse: A small crossbody purse or tote bag is ideal for carrying essentials such as sunscreen, sunglasses, and your phone while exploring beachside attractions.
  • Beach bag: Remember to pack a spacious beach bag to tote your towels, sunscreen, snacks, and beach reads as you soak up the sun.

Sun Protection Must-Haves: Protect Your Skin Under the Sun

Ensuring adequate sun protection is paramount for a safe and enjoyable beach vacation. As you prepare your packing list for the beach, prioritize bringing ample sun protection.

Here's a rundown of the essential items you'll need to protect your skin from harmful UV rays:

  • Sunscreen: Select a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF to shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Sunglasses: Invest in sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays.
  • Hats: Pack a wide-brimmed hat or a baseball cap with a visor to provide shade and protect your face, scalp, and neck from direct sunlight.
  • Sun-protective clothing: To provide an additional layer of sun protection, consider packing lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and cover-ups made from UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) fabric.
  • Lip balm with SPF: Don't forget to protect your lips from sunburn by using a lip balm with SPF.
  • Aloe vera gel: In case of sunburn, soothing aloe vera gel can relieve discomfort. Opt for pure aloe vera gel without added fragrances or alcohol for maximum effectiveness.

Tech Gadgets and Accessories: Stay Connected and Entertained

In today's digital age, technology has become integral to our lives, even during leisurely beach trips. Whether it's staying connected with loved ones, capturing precious moments, or ensuring your safety, tech gadgets and accessories can enhance your beach vacation experience.

As you compile your beach trip packing list, consider the following tech essentials to stay connected and entertained:

  • Portable speaker: A waterproof and durable portable speaker is a must-have for beach outings, allowing you to enjoy your favorite music or podcasts while basking in the sun.
  • Portable chargers: Keep your devices powered up and ready for use with portable chargers or power banks.
  • Waterproof phone case: Protect your smartphone from water damage with a waterproof phone case or pouch.
  • Laptop or tablet: Stay connected and entertained with a laptop or tablet loaded with movies, TV shows, or digital books.
  • Camera: Capture stunning beach landscapes, candid moments, and underwater adventures with a waterproof camera or smartphone.
  • Digital journal: Reflect on your beach adventures, jot down travel experiences, or sketch the scenic views with a digital travel journal.

Toiletries and Personal Care: Essentials for Health and Skincare

Proper toiletries and personal care items are essential for maintaining hygiene and safeguarding your health and skincare in a sun-drenched environment. As you prepare your beach vacation checklist and organize your toiletry bag, here are some must-have essentials to consider:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: Maintain your dental hygiene by packing a toothbrush and toothpaste to keep your teeth clean and fresh throughout your beach getaway.
  • Shampoo and conditioner: Rinse saltwater and sand from your hair with travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner.
  • Soap: Pack a bar of soap or travel-sized body wash to cleanse your skin after a day of beach activities.
  • After-sun lotion: Soothe and moisturize sun-exposed skin with an after-sun lotion or gel containing ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and hydrating agents.
  • Prescription medications: When packing for a beach vacation, don’t forget prescription medications and other items to stay healthy while on the go.
  • First aid kit: Accidents happen, so remember to pack a small first aid kit with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and more.

Entertainment and Leisure: Unwind and Have Fun

When it's time to unwind and have fun on your beach trip, having a selection of entertainment and leisure items is essential for creating memorable moments. Whether you're traveling solo or with a group, consider packing the following entertainment essentials for a fun-filled beach vacation:

  • Books and magazines: Dive into a captivating novel, explore travel guides, or catch up on your favorite magazines while lounging on the beach.
  • Travel games: Bring compact and portable games such as playing cards, travel-sized board games, or word puzzles to enjoy with friends or family. These games are perfect for bonding and adding a playful element to your beach days.
  • Frisbee or beach ball: Stay active and enjoy some friendly competition by tossing around a Frisbee or playing beach volleyball with a beach ball. These classic beach toys are great for group activities and keeping everyone entertained.
  • Goggles and snorkel: Pack goggles and a snorkel to explore marine life in the clear waters of the beach.
  • Beach umbrella and chair: Create a comfortable and shaded oasis on the beach with a portable beach umbrella and chair.
Friends enjoying a food truck in Hawaii


Preparing for a Beach Getaway

Preparing for a beach getaway involves careful planning and organization to ensure a smooth and enjoyable vacation experience. Here's a general idea of how to prepare for your beach vacation, incorporating essential items.

  • Create a checklist: Make a comprehensive checklist of everything you'll need for your beach vacation, including items for yourself, your companions, and your furry friend if you're bringing one along. Divide the checklist into categories such as clothing, toiletries, beach gear, documents, and pet essentials.
  • Gather travel documents: Collect all necessary travel documents, including photo identification, passports (if traveling internationally), insurance cards, credit cards, boarding passes, frequent flier cards, and any student IDs, if applicable. Keep these documents organized in a travel wallet or pouch for easy access during your journey.
  • Pack essentials in a carry-on bag: Assemble an essential carry-on bag containing an extra outfit, basic toiletries, medications, and any valuables such as electronics or jewelry. This ensures that you have the essentials on hand in case your checked luggage is delayed or lost during travel.
  • Secure valuables: Consider using a money belt or travel pouch to keep your valuables, such as cash, credit cards, and passports, safe and secure while exploring the beach and tourist attractions.
  • Prepare pet essentials: If you're traveling with your dog, pack a separate dog packing list with essentials such as food, water, bowls, a leash, a collar with ID tags, a pet first aid kit, medications, toys, and bedding.
  • Plan activities and excursions: Research and plan activities and excursions ahead of time to make the most of your beach vacation. Whether it's snorkeling, surfing, hiking, or simply lounging on the sand, having a list of must-do activities ensures you don't miss out on any memorable experiences.
  • Check the weather forecast: Keep an eye on the weather forecast for your destination and pack accordingly. Bring sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and a light jacket or rain gear for unexpected weather changes.
  • Review maps and travel guides: Familiarize yourself with the layout of your destination and review maps and travel guides to discover nearby attractions, restaurants, and points of interest. This helps you navigate the area more efficiently and makes it easier to plan your itinerary.

Lastly, make sure you stay healthy during your beach vacation. It's crucial to prioritize your well-being while on the go. Start by staying hydrated—especially in hot and sunny weather—by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Additionally, maintain a balanced diet by incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and proteins into your meals to keep your energy levels up and support overall health. Practice good hygiene habits by washing your hands frequently, particularly before eating or handling food, and use hand sanitizer when necessary to reduce the risk of illness while traveling.


Choose the Best Luggage for a Beach Vacation

Choosing the best luggage for your beach vacation is key to having a stress-free travel experience. Here are some of our favorite options for luggage for a beach vacation:

  • Duffel bag: Lightweight and versatile, a duffel bag’s soft sides fit just about any space. It’s easy to pack, holds more than a rigid suitcase, and is more durable than expected. Opt for water-repellant duffel bags with a bucket design that ensures water and sand won't infiltrate your bag at the beach.
  • Wheeled bag: You can’t beat wheels for heavy bags or long walking distances. If you plan to be on the go more than you intend to relax, this is an excellent back-saver.
  • Personal item: For a quick weekend getaway at the beach, a personal item should suffice. Choose a lightweight under the seat bag with external pockets for easy access to essentials during the flight.
  • Carry-on : Opt for a carry-on bag to skip the hassle of waiting in lines to check in your bag and retrieve it at baggage claim. If you’re worried about space, consider using packing cubes to maximize the room in your luggage.


Packing Efficiently for a Beach Trip: Tips and Tricks

Streamline your beach packing by utilizing packing organizers such as packing cubes, which keep items neatly compartmentalized and save valuable space by compressing your clothing. Easily transfer these organized cubes straight into the drawers of your hotel dresser upon arrival, simplifying the unpacking process.

For travelers constantly on the move during their beach vacations, travel packing cubes are perfect for keeping their belongings organized. Compressing clothing can save up to eighty percent more space, potentially reducing the need for additional luggage and making it easier to fit everything into a spacious travel backpack.

Keep your dress clothes pristine and wrinkle-free by utilizing packing folders, ensuring you're ready for date night without any wardrobe mishaps. Opt for zippered compartments to corral toiletries, makeup, and jewelry, facilitating easy access to your essentials throughout your trip. Protect your electronics from sand and chaos with e-organizers designed to keep cords, cables, and gadgets securely in place.

Lastly, remember to pack light to make your beach vacation even more enjoyable. Skip the bulky coolers in favor of a large lunch bag or insulated tote to keep your food essentials cool and convenient for seaside picnics and outings.


Beach Trip Packing Checklist

Beach Bag Essentials

Personal Care Items


Fun Beach Items

Personal Items and Documents




Lounging and surfing on the beach


Beach Vacation Packing List FAQs

What are some essential items to include in my beach bag?

When packing your beach bag, there are a few essential items to bring. This includes sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, e beach towel, plenty of water, snacks, and a beach blanket or mat. You might also want to bring extra swimwear, a change of clothing, and a book or beach toys to keep you entertained for your day in the sun.

How should I pack my beach towel to save space in my luggage?

Beach towels are lightweight but bulky, making it difficult to pack all your essentials in one bag. Luckily, there are a few tricks to save space, such as rolling your towel instead of folding it into a square. To roll your beach towel and make it as small as possible, fold it in half before rolling it, and tie it with a rubber band to keep it in place. You can also use compression bags or extra small packing cubes to save space in your luggage.

Are there any items I should avoid packing for a beach vacation?


When you’re enjoying a beach vacation, the last thing you want to do is lug around heavy bags. So, you should avoid packing non-essentials to keep your luggage as light as possible. Things to avoid packing for a beach vacation include the following:

  • Heavy items like makeup bags, magazines, full-sized shampoo and conditioner, and hair dryers
  • Valuable items, such as jewelry and devices
  • Formal wear (unless you plan on going to a fancy dinner)
  • Excessive amounts of outfits
  • Toiletries
  • Food
  • Impractical shoes