List of Things to Take to the Beach

Planning for the weekend’s beach trip can easily drop off the radar after a week of surviving work and kids sports commitments. I often find myself crash landing into my Saturday morning, not quite sure which way is up. Sometimes you just need a list to jog your memory, or to relieve you of the duty of thinking. So here is a list of things to take to the beach, that I’ve also made available as a pdf download you can print:

list of things to take to the beach


  1. The essentials
  2. Extra comfort
  3. Beach Fun
  4. Carrying/moving your gear
  5. Entertainment
  6. For the kids

The essentials:

These items are almost always needed at the beach.

  • Towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimmers
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Rash shirt
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Food incl. snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Spare dry clothes
  • Bin Bag
  • Medication

Prescription sunglasses/mask notes
Investing in prescription sunglasses are not only convenient, but a tad more stylish too. Fit-over lenses are OK, no judging here…but your kids may not want to be associated with you – just saying! If your prescription allows you to purchase cheap over the counter glasses, consider investing in a few pairs and bring a couple to the beach.

Sunscreen notes
For the beach you should use sunscreen that is at least SPF 30+ (the best protection is 50+) and water-resistant. For best results apply it 20 min before heading outside. Be aware that not everyone agrees about the safety of some commonly used ingredients in sunscreen.

Extra comfort

  • Beach canopy, or tent
  • Umbrella
  • Beach chair
  • Beach mat/blanket
  • Sarong
  • Hammock

Canopy notes
If you are bringing a canopy/tent to the beach, it is important know how to tie down your canopy/tent. If you are planning on doing a lot of trips, or know the weather can be a bit unpredictable, also consider whether your sand stakes are adequate.

Beach Fun

  • Beach and ocean toys/activities (see below)
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Water shoes

Beach toys/activities notes
There are obviously an endless list of beach toy/game ideas that the whole family can enjoy. The consistent crowd favorites are a great starting point. Many classic ball sports can be adapted for the beach including football, soccer, volleyball, paddle-ball and the now popular spike-ball. Kite flying is another classic activity for the beach. Taking your fun out to the ocean you can explore all the “boardings” (surfboarding, stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding, body-boarding), surf kayaking, and the more relaxing inflatable lilo/lounge.

Snorkeling mask notes
I wanted to remind the visually-challenged among us that you that you can buy prescription masks. As a glasses wearer myself, using a mask suited to my eyes transforms your enjoyment of the underwater world.

Carrying / moVing your gear

These items will help get your gear to and from the beach.

  • Beach bag
  • Cooler box/bag
  • Beach cart / collapsible utility wagon
  • Waterproof case/bag for phone, wallet etc

Beach/waterproof bag notes
The best bags for the beach are typically some kind of mesh material like nylon, preferably with waterproof pockets. There are a number of reasons to use mesh: It’s lighter, it permits air to circulate keeping the contents cooler, and it also allows sand that accumulates over the day at the bottom to fall out. Waterproof pockets are obviously a great to keep your phone and valuables dry. You could also keep it simple by using plastic zip-lock bags, or buy separate waterproof dry-bags. A waterproof base will also mean you can drop your bag with wet swimmers/towels anywhere without fearing saturating your dry gear.

Cooler box/bag notes
The first decision for choosing a cooler is whether you want a hard or soft shell. Soft shell bags tend to be more flexible so you can fit awkward shapes inside, and also pack down well when not being used. Hard shell cooler boxes can support thicker insulation, and therefore have longer ice retention. Other features to look for are wheels and comfortable handles for easy transport, and a removable drain plug to get rid of melted ice.


Take this chance to catch-up on some reading, and if other people don’t mind, create a vibe with some tunes.

  • Camera
  • Speaker
  • Music
  • Book

For the kids

Being a parent myself, I know it’s tempting to be prepared for any eventuality. When you’re out in nature though it’s best to pack light, and let the kids create their own fun. These items will get you through most situations.

  • Baby wipes/wet wipes
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Swim diapers/nappies
  • Change mat
  • Nappy Bag
  • Kids beach toys – e.g. bucket & spade
  • Safety flotation devices
  • Extra set of dry clothes
  • Kid-friendly snacks

Packing for a three or seven day beach vacation

You will need to allow for rotation of some items (e.g. towels, swim suits) each day to allow drying time – so obviously you’re gonna need some extra’s of the things mentioned in the lists above. You’re also going to need some overnight things like:

  • Extra clothes, including something dressier if you’re going out
  • Shaver
  • Toiletries
  • Phone Charger
  • Pajamas
  • Casual and/or going-out shoes

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