It’s a cruel summer, indeed. In 2019, Barcelona’s Guàrdia Urbana municipal police force told CNN that it has had to issue 174 emergency clothing kits to beachgoers after a spate of thefts at Barcelona’s city beaches. These “support packs” contain a T-shirt, flip-flops, pants, and a metrocard so victims of beach theft can make their way back to their hotels in more than just a bathing suit.
But beach theft can happen anywhere—even on some of the best beaches in the world. The best way to make sure your belongings are safe while you swim is to leave as much as possible back in your hotel room and to make sure someone stays with your valuables at all times once you’re beachside. But sometimes that’s not realistic, especially if you’re traveling solo or not staying close to the water.
Before you head to the coast this summer, consider packing one of these locking beach bags, clever water bottle safes, or lock boxes to give yourself peace of mind and thwart would-be thieves.
1. JOTO Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch
- Buy now: $7, amazon.com
If you’re only bringing your cell phone and hotel key card to the beach, consider stringing this waterproof pouch around your neck while you take a dip. With more than 50,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, this cell phone carrier is not only waterproof but also touch-friendly, so you can snap pics while you’re in the ocean, too.
2. SealLine E-Case
- Buy now: $33, rei.com
Bringing more than a cell phone with you? The medium-sized SealLine e-case attached to a wristcoil will fit car keys, some cash, and a credit card, too, former AFAR editor Sara Button says. She also confirms that it seals all the way and can be submerged for half an hour.
3. AquaVault FlexSafe
- Buy now: $60, theaquavault.com; amazon.com
Fans of TV show Shark Tank might recognize its featured AquaVault FlexSafe, a portable safe that can be easily locked with a three-digit combination to a beach lounge chair or umbrella while you go swimming. (But make sure they are heavy-duty enough that thieves can’t walk off with the chair or umbrella with the safe attached.) Made with water- and slash-resistant fabric, this packable lightweight bag is roomy enough to fit your phone, wallet, passport, camera, and keys.
4. Travah Diversion Bottle
- Buy now: $27, amazon.com
The 17 oz. Travah Diversion Bottle has a small compartment that measures 3x3 inches built into its bottom to subtly stash things you don’t want sitting out on your beach blanket. It’s not the ultimate answer since it doesn’t lock to anything, but it can be a helpful cash- and key-stash in a pinch.
5. CoolBag Gen 2 Locking Anti-Theft Travel Tote
- Buy now: $130, amazon.com
In addition to thwarting theft, the CoolBag locking beach bag also comes with a built-in insulated cooler compartment in the bottom for keeping snacks and drinks cool throughout the day. Any valuables you put in the upper section can be kept safe with a combination lock-protected zipper, and the entire bag can be secured to any stationary object with its detachable cable straps. Other useful features include convertible backpack straps and a zippered pocket that helps secure the bag to luggage handles when using it as a carry-on.
6. SAFEGO Portable Travel Lock Box Safe
- Buy now: $50, amazon.com
This SAFEGO lock box offers more flexibility for where you can secure it, thanks to a 17-inch steel cable. The portable lock box also has both combination and key access and can fit everything from your cell phone to your camera inside of it.
This article was originally published in 2019; it was updated on May 23, 2023, with current information.