Print this list of what to bring to the beach so you'll be prepped and ready to have the best beach day ever with your family!
After over a decade of family beach trips, we've finally perfected the packing list for the essential items needed for a fun day at the beach together.
The real trick is balancing having just enough to keep everyone comfortable and happy without overloading the car or having too many things to keep track of and carry out onto the sand.
Every item on this list serves a purpose and will help ensure a fun beach day for your family.
Beach Day Packing List
This is the list of what to bring to the beach itself in order to enjoy a day on the sand and swimming in the water.
1. Beach Gear
These items take up the most space in your car but can make the difference between being comfortable or not. The items we feel are essential include:
- Shade structure: a tent or umbrella with enough space for your crew. Be sure to check whether the beach you're going to has specific restrictions on either.
- Beach chairs: We generally just bring 2 and take turns among the 4 of us.
- Beach blanket: For sitting down on the sand without a chair, this helps protect from the heat and grit.
- Tote bag for small items
- Cup holders or umbrella tray
- Towels: This item is optional. If we are staying within walking distance of the beach, we do not bring towels. If we have to drive to the beach, we do.
Be sure to read my full review of the best beach gear for families where I share links to the specific products our family has used for years and years.
2. Beach Snacks & Drinks
All that swimming and playing at the beach surely means everyone is going to work up a solid appetite. But remember: It is even more important to stay hydrated!
- A cooler filled with beverages: Plenty of water, avoid too much juice or sugary drinks.
- A cooler filled with snacks: You can read the best beach snacks list here.
- Reusable utensils
- Reusable napkins
- A tote bag to hold any waste so you can bring it back out of the beach
- A spare gallon of water for rinsing hands before eating
3. Sun Safety Items
If you plan to spend more than 10 minutes at the beach, you're definitely going to want to know how to avoid sunburn. Take extra care to have everything you need to keep your family safe:
- Sunblock for faces and body with plenty of bottles/quantity to reapply
- Rash Guard or Swim Shirt
4. Beach Toys
My kids have always loved simply playing in the waves and digging around in the sand. But plan for a few strategic games and toys and you will never run out of things to do at the beach:
- The Top 3 Essential Beach Toys: Beach Pail, Sand Sifter, and a sturdy Sand Shovel
- A Ball for Catch
- A Kite
For more fun ideas, be sure to read through my list of the best beach toys for the whole family here.
5. For the Car
If you're driving to and from the beach, you'll definitely want to take care to protect your car interior from the harsh realities of ocean water and sand. Here are a few things that will help:
- A Spare Gallon of Water: For a final rinse of feet and hands before getting back in the car at the end of the day.
- Large Lawn and Leaf Bag: This can cover your car seats to protect against wet bottoms and sand.
- Baby Powder: Sprinkle some on your legs and the sand will brush right off.
- A Changing Bag with Fresh Clothes: For everyone to change into before getting in the car.
PRO TIP: If you plan to spend more than just a day at the beach, you might want to consider purchasing super cheap high-shag carpeting remnants for lining your car seats and floor. The high shag carpet will absorb water and sand and at the end of a week-long trip to the beach could just be thrown away.
6. Safety Items
Hopefully none of these items will actually be needed, but if they are you'll be happy to have them! Fortune favors the well prepared:
- First Aid Kit with bandaids, Neosporin, wound wash, ibuprofen, and aloe vera gel
- Jellyfish Kit: vinegar, baking soda, and have a credit card on hand for scraping
- Vet Wrap: This self-adhesive wrap works far better than a bandaid for dressing a wound or blister on the legs and feet and will stay in place even while playing in the ocean waves.
- Personalized Marker for Your Area: All beach umbrellas can start to look familiar from out in the water. To help your kids and family find your chairs, personalize your umbrella with a colorful feather boa or flag of some kind.