The Ultimate Beach Packing List for a Weeklong Vacation

Packing for your surf-and-sand vacation is as stress-free as a day at the beach, thanks to this easy reference guide to your essentials for a week.

Illustration of items to pack, including totes and water bottles

Make packing for your next beach vacation a breeze with this checklist of essentials.

Designed by Ellie See

After a long winter, the anticipation of your first beach vacation of the year is likely akin to the same giddy excitement you felt as a kid during the countdown to the last day of school. But, alas, you’re an adult now and can’t rely on your parents to pack your pool floaties for you anymore.

If you’re staying at a resort, it’s safe to assume you won’t have to pack essentials like beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels. But if you’re lucky enough to snag coveted reservations at an Airbnb beach house this spring break or later this summer, double-check with your host to see what amenities they include. To make sure you don’t show up unprepared—or overpack—use this beach vacation packing list to guarantee you have everything you need for a weeklong trip.

Beach Vacation Packing List

Tip: Download or save this beach vacation checklist to use for your next beach trip.

Designed by Ellie See

Beach clothing

Avoid overpacking with this easy formula Wendy Mak, author of The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits From 30 Pieces, uses when she travels: Simply multiply the number of tops with the number of bottoms you plan to bring and that’s the number of outfits you’ll be able to create (as long as each top coordinates with each bottom).

“As a general rule of thumb, if I’m going away for a seven-night beach holiday, I’d pack two to three pieces of swimwear (so that they have time to dry in between), a pair of shorts and a couple of skirts, four tops that match all my shorts and skirts, and a dress in case I go somewhere special,” Mak told AFAR in 2017. In addition to the swimwear, this eight-piece wardrobe will give you at least 13 outfits for when you’re not lounging on the beach in your suit.

If you plan to exercise, don’t forget your workout gear and sneakers. And even though it could be warm during the day, check the weather and pack extra layers to keep you comfortable at night in case the weather dips after the sun goes down. You wouldn’t want to miss the beach bonfire, would you?

Clothing to pack:

  • 2–3 swimsuits (We like Summersalt suits, $45–$125, which are made with recycled polyamide fabric and include sizes 0 to 24.)
  • 1–2 swim cover-ups
  • Rashguard for additional sun protection in the water
  • Polarized sunglasses, like the Maho Positano shades ($195), which include subtle yet effective grips on the ears so you don’t have to worry about them falling off your face in the water.
  • Sun hat (the wider the brim the better)
  • Four T-shirts or casual tops
  • Three pairs of shorts or skirts
  • Pants for evenings
  • Sweatshirt or light sweater for evenings
  • Nicer outfit (dress or button-up and slacks) for dinners out
  • Socks and underwear
  • Sleepwear
  • Small purse or belt bag
  • Workout gear and running shoes


  • Flat sandals for daytime, like Nisolo’s woven huaraches, which come in both men’s and women’s sizes ($138–$150) and are made with Leather Working Group Certified leather that’s also water-resistant
  • Flip-flops or other rubber beach sandals (Indosole makes rubber sandals, $26–$60, crafted from recycled tires, for men, women, children, and toddlers.)
  • Nicer shoes for evenings out (Espadrilles like the Soludos classic wedges, $115, elevate your look but are still lightweight and let your feet breathe in warm climates.)
  • Water shoes to protect your feet from rocks and coral

Beach gear

Before you pack, check the amenities your hotel or vacation rental includes. Most provide beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels you can use during your stay. Otherwise, you’ll want to stick to the essentials for keeping you and your family entertained, hydrated, and comfortable during a day on the sand.

In case your accommodations don’t provide them, pack these items:

  • Beach chairs
  • Beach umbrella or tent
  • Beach towels (We like the Nomadix Original Towel, $40; its ultralight and quick-drying micro-terry fabric is made from post-consumer recycled materials.)

You may also want:

  • Snorkel gear (Tour operators may provide them, but if you’re a germaphobe, you may want to BYO for peace of mind.)
  • Underwater camera, like the GoPro Hero12 Black ($350), which is waterproof down to 33 feet and comes with accessories like a floating hand grip if you purchase it in a bundle directly from GoPro
  • Inflatable floats for lounging in the water
  • Toddler swim floaties for families traveling with small children
  • Swim diapers for babies

Beach toiletries and hygiene items

In addition to the basics you pack every time you travel—toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, razors, etc.—you should pack toiletries to protect you from the sun and any germs you encounter at the beach. Choose a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or greater, water resistant, and broad spectrum so you’re protected against both UVB and UVA rays.

You’ll also want to use a reef-friendly formula that doesn’t use oxybenzone and octinoxate, two ingredients that are banned from being sold in destinations like Hawai‘i and Key West. To calculate the amount of sunscreen you’ll need for your beach trip, the American Academy of Dermatology Association says most adults need about one ounce to cover their body and recommends reapplying every two hours or after swimming.


  • Sunscreen
  • SPF lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes for disinfecting your hands and getting all the sand off them before you eat
  • After-sun lotion

You may also want:

  • Bug spray for evenings (Kinfield’s Golden Hour mosquito repellent, $22, is DEET free and works. Its mix of citronella, lemongrass, and clove smells amazing.)
  • First-aid kit, like the Welly Human Repair Kit ($10), which includes adhesive bandages, ointments, hand sanitizers, and more in a refillable tin
  • After-sun leave-in hair conditioner, like Sun Bum’s Revitalizing 3-in-1 Leave-In Treatment ($13), which detangles, conditions, and protects hair from the damaging effects of the sun and salt water.

    This article was originally published in 2019; it was most recently updated on March 1, 2024, with current information.

Lyndsey Matthews is the former senior commerce editor at Afar, covering travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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