30 Must-Have Beach Essentials

Take an already great day at the beach to a whole new level. From staying sand-free to capturing incredible underwater pictures, the perfect beach day is possible with these must-bring products.

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June 08, 2021

You've booked your vacation and are counting down the days until you can turn on your out-of-office email notification and get your toes in the sand. But not so fast. Have you made your packing list yet? Because nothing ruins a beach day like forgetting sunscreen. These essential items will make your beach day relaxed and carefree — just like any vacation should be.

Tired of carrying a pile of bulky towels to the beach? This one from Sand Cloud fits in your bag and is extra large at the same time. We love the sand-resistant design and that it dries three times faster than traditional towels. Plus, you're doing good, too; the brand donates 10 percent of its profits to marine conservation efforts.

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From $42
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Double up your sun protection with a UPF swim shirt. UPF clothing blocks ultraviolet rays from penetrating the fabric and reaching your skin. It’s not a replacement for sunscreen, but it is a great addition to SPF.

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From $23

Like UPF clothing, you can find hats that feature UPF material, too, but they’re not always that fashionable. Most are geared toward fishing or hiking. I love this wide-brim, straw hat. Not only does it look like a trendy floppy hat, but it has UPF 50 protection and features magical packable technology which means no more weird suitcase creases.

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This isn’t just for the beach, but Glossier’s Balm Dotcom coconut flavor just tastes like summer. And after a long day in the sun, the all-purpose salve will keep your lips (hands, elbows, etc.) smooth and hydrated.

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$14

It's easy to forget about protecting your hair on beach days, but it's just as important. This Sun Bum Sea Salt Spray protects your hair from the elements while giving it extra body, waves and texture for that windswept look. Plus, it offers protection from damaging UV rays which prevents your hair from becoming dull, brittle and discolored over time.

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From $10

This one is obvious, but before you get to the beach to discover last year’s bottle is basically empty or even several years old, make sure you’re stocked up on a solid sunblock. We love Supergoop!'s PLAY Everyday Lotion, which provides broad-spectrum UVA, UVB and IRA protection. It absorbs quickly and feels lightweight.

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$51.56

Sunscreen aside, sometimes you just need a break from the sun. And if you’re beaching with little ones or seniors, it’s especially important to have shade. This pop-up beach tent from Coleman sets up in minutes and features material with a UPF 50 rating for extra sun protection.

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$299.99

The more people in your family, the more gear you have to schlep to the beach. Bringing chairs, toys, coolers, umbrellas and more from the car to the beach and back again is no easy task ... unless you have an all-terrain beach cart. With heavy-duty airless tires, large gear compartments and even cup holders, you'll have plenty of room to fit everything your family needs. We also love that it can be used beyond the beach for kid-friendly adventures around town — attach your current infant car seat with the included adapter for babies, or use the two seats with safety harnesses to safely transport older kids. Plus, the UV-blocking canopy protects little ones from the sun, while pull-down shades block additional light during naptime.

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$51.10

Up your lounge game with lightweight travel chairs. This sling chair from Coleman features a cup holder and a pocket in the back for beach towels. The low-profile design is perfect for sinking your toes in the sand while remaining sand-free everywhere else.

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EDITORS' PICKS
$50

Like CGear’s beach blanket, the brand’s sand-free tote features the same patented technology to keep sand out of the bottom of your bag so no more tracking sand into your car or home. The tote is also great for camping and picnics.

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$30

Leaving the beach is sad, but you know what’s worse? Getting into your car with a soggy bottom and realizing that all of your towels are still wet, too. Quick-driving towels are a great investment and perfect for a beach vacation where you want to hop from the water to other activities. The Seaview 180 beach towel from Wildhorn Outfitters drys three times faster than cotton towels and can hold up to four times its weight in water.

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$250

Instead of trying to lug a big, bulky cooler through the sand, throw a lightweight cooler bag around your shoulder. The YETI Hopper Flip 12 cooler bag is just as chilly as coolers in the YETI fleet, yet it fits a surprisingly large amount of cans and ice.

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$27.99

Sync your phone and play your favorite beach playlist with this waterproof Bluetooth speaker. The battery lasts up to 24 hours, and the speaker also features a microphone so you can make hands-free calls and keep your phone out of the sun.

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$19.95

What do you do with all of your wet bathing suits after a day at the beach? This is a challenge we’ve all had to deal with, but getting a few wet bags would make it way easier. These wet bags are specifically designed to hold damp or wet items and will help you avoid getting everything else in your bag wet, too. You can throw the bags into your tote, and when you get home everything can go straight into the wash.

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$58

Polarized lenses are more expensive and you might not think you need them, but when you’re out in the sun, they make a world of a difference. In addition to UV ray protection, polarized lenses cut down on the glare from the sun, and that glare can be brutal when reflected off white sandy beaches. For sunglasses less than $100, check out the designs from Sunski.

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We’ve seen it too many times. Someone pulls out his or her phone to Instagram the perfect beach sunset and accidentally drops the phone into the ocean. Use your phone while keeping it waterproof with this pouch from geckobrands. The bag features a shoulder strap that’s perfect for keeping your phone out of harm’s way while kayaking or boating.

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$49.95

The most common dilemma about visiting the beach is what to do with your stuff when you want to take a stroll. Pack it all up? Take a risk of something being stolen? Try to hide it? With the SAFEGO, you can lock up all your valuables anytime you need to leave your beach area.

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$10

Most public beaches have a no-glass policy, and if you’re more of a wine drinker, your options can be limited. Not that there’s anything wrong with canned wine, but if you want to bring your favorite bottle, just fill up the collapsible Wine2Go bag, and you’re all set.

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$19 (Pack of 2)

While this isn’t necessarily gear, baby powder is essential for any day at the beach. Why? It magically dusts sand off your skin. And at the end of the day, wiping all that sand off your feet before getting in a car is a wonderful feeling.

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$15 (Pack of 4)

It’s happened to everyone: You reach for a cold beverage and realize that it’s coated with a layer of wet sand. And no matter how hard you try to shake it off, that stuff clings all over your drink. Turtlebacks are special cup holders that elevate drinks and keep them totally sand-free. They come in tons of different colors and you can buy a multi-color pack so that everyone can keep track of their drink easily.

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$22.99 (Set of 2)

A plastic red cup? You can do better. A beach day and a cold drink go hand-in-hand, and these plastic drink “glasses” from The Beach Glass are perfect for sipping on something fruity. They’re made from BPA-free acrylic, are dishwasher safe and will hold up to 12 ounces. The patented ball and stem design holds the glass upright in the sand, and they even float.

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$24.99

If you're drinking from a can at the beach, you'll want to keep it ice-cold as long as possible. The YETI Colster's 12-ounce size is perfect for sparkling water, soft drinks and good old-fashioned beer, all kept straight-from-the-cooler cold for hours.

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$13 (Pack of 2)

Drinking water is always important, but even more so when you’re spending hours in the sun. This water bottle allows you to amp up the flavor profile by including chopped fruit or vegetables.

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If your beach crew is large and in charge, it might be time for a lunchtime upgrade. This sturdy, low-profile table is easy to transport and comes with a canvas carrying bag. Plus, it makes playing games even easier.

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Kids and adults alike will love taking this underwater camera for a spin. The cute device from Sunnylife features a detachable waterproof casing, a 28mm, f/90 lens and a wrist strap. All you need to buy is some 35mm film for a bit of old-school summer fun.

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$27

Portable chargers are ridiculously convenient, but we've noticed they can also be ridiculously heavy. Keep your beach bag light with this small, lipstick-sized, high-speed smartphone charger. You'll get one full additional charge during your beach day shenanigans, so you can capture every fun moment.

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$129.99

This waterproof reader is made to be read by the beach. But if you just want to close your eyes and listen to your beach read, then consider an Audible subscription. Audible allows you to enjoy all of your favorite books from your tablet, iPhone and more. This means you can "read" while sitting at the beach staring at the ocean with your headphones.

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$3.75 (Pack of 50)

Maybe you're not heading home after the beach or plan on stopping at a beachfront restaurant for lunch. These bamboo wet wipes will give you just the quick refresh you need. They're made with a moisturizing blend of aloe, vitamin E, cucumber extract and other nourishing ingredients that soothe the skin while keeping you clean and refreshed on the go.

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$19

This huge beach toy set will keep kids busy for hours. The high-quality, BPA-free set comes with a bucket, two shovels, three rakes, two sand sifters, a watering can and eight adorable sand molds, all in a mesh bag to make post-beach cleanup a breeze.

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While the kiddos are building castles or digging holes in the sand, the adults deserve to have some fun, too. These waterproof playing cards are a perfect, easy beach game that will keep you busy for hours. Set up a game under an umbrella or beach tent to stay out of the sun, and play some fun group games like gin rummy or poker. Cards are easily washable, so you can keep bringing them back to the beach again and again.

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