Beach Packing List Essentials for Sun and Fun

Use this beach packing list to remember the essentials for a day of sun and fun.

Beach packing list - 3 kids running toward ocean
James Braund / Getty Images

Your family's beach packing list will vary depending on your needs and interests. Do you have toddlers, preschoolers, or tweens? Are your kids more into sand play, bodysurfing, or wading at the water's edge? Will you have access to locker rooms, showers, and restaurants? Many destinations have chairs for rent and sunscreen for sale, but you'll save time and money if you bring your own. (Yes, even though it's a pain to carry it!)

Start with this list and modify to fit your family. Bring a copy with you to the beach, too. Refer to it when you're packing up to head home so you don't leave anything behind.

Beach Packing List: For Health and Safety

  • Sunscreen and lip balm: Reapply often, even if you use a waterproof formula; see package directions
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats or visors
  • Umbrella, kids' tent, or other portable sun shade
  • Insect repellent
  • Rash guard shirts
  • Small first aid kit so you can treat scrapes or bites

Beach Packing List: For Comfort

  • Lightweight wagon to haul everything in
  • Swimsuits
  • Towels
  • Blankets and/or folding beach chairs
  • Cover-up wraps, shirts, or robes
  • Goggles
  • Flip-flops or water shoes

Beach Packing List: For Keeping Clean

  • Swim diapers
  • Baby wipes and/or hand sanitizer
  • Clean underwear and diapers
  • Plastic bags for wet items
  • Shampoo
  • Combs
  • Padlock for lockers, and/or wearable, waterproof mini-safe for stashing valuables
  • Baby powder: Use to help remove sticky sand from skin

    Beach Packing List: For Eating and Drinking

    • Cash for vending machines or snack bar
    • Better yet: Pack your own healthy snacks and sandwiches to keep everything both fresh and refreshing.
    • Water for everyone! Warm weather and sun will make you extra thirsty.
    • Insulated cooler to keep your water and food cool; you can also stash your sunscreen inside.  It will feel delightfully chilly when you apply to warm skin. Hint: Even if you rarely go to the beach, it's worth investing in a wheeled cooler so you can use it for other events, like kids' sporting events. 

      Beach Packing List: For Playing

      • Sand and water toys: Label with your name. Any utensil or container that can scoop or mold sand is fun! You can even get biodegradable beach toys (made from corn!) so you don't have to worry if they get left behind or carried off in the waves (buy from Amazon). 
      • Balls or Frisbees for playing catch: Labeled with your name, if you want to bring them home. Consider adding the Waboba ball to your collection: It bounces on water! (Buy from Amazon.)
      • Toy trucks or boats to drive in the sand or tide pools
      • Kites: A fun option, but save these for less crowded beach visits where you will have room to run with your kite

      An important note on safety for young children: Do not rely on inflatable water wings, floaties, or even life jackets to keep your child safe from drowning at the beach. Keep your child within arm's reach at all times when you are near water—even if he or she knows how to swim and is an experienced beachgoer. 

      Continue Reading