What to Pack in Your Beach Bag (Vacation Must Haves)

Happy weekend and welcome to the Saturday Spotlight!  Now that summer is in full swing, we’re focusing on the beach this week…specifically, what to bring to the beach.  After all, many of you are probably planning a beach trip and could use some ideas.  Since we live about an hour from the Jersey Shore, we’re back and forth to the beach throughout the summer.  As we say in New Jersey, we go “down the shore”!  Overall, I guess I could consider myself somewhat of a beach expert. So, today I’m sharing great ideas for what to pack in your beach bag!

*For your convenience, please note that this post may contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking my links below, I will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Pink and white beach bag and navy sandals - what to pack in your beach bag

What to Pack in Your Beach Bag – A Good Book:

If you’re like me, you agree that a good book is one of the top beach essentials.  Right now, I’m reading 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand and loving the emotional rollercoaster of a summer love story!  Definitely check this one out!

Elin Hilderbrand book 28 Summers - beach bag essentials

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I love Kristy Woodson Harvey’s books!  Just this week, she released her latest novel, The Summer of Songbirds!  Needless to say, it’s next on my list to read!  If you enjoy nostalgic summer stories about lifetime friendships, pack this one in your beach bag (like it says on the cover!)

The Summer of Songbirds book

In fact, I was hoping to share photos from her Jersey Shore stop of her book tour.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get down there in time on Friday so I had to miss it!  Though, I did get to attend one of her book events a few years ago if you’d like to read about that one..  I guess I’ll just have to catch her next time around.  If you want to see if she’s coming to your town, keep checking her website for tour dates.

For even more 2023 beach reads for women, here’s a great list to choose from!

What to Pack in Your Beach Bag – Sun Protection:

Yes, sunscreen is an absolute must have for a beach bag!  For the most part, I try to stick to the healthier sunscreens.  After all, I probably did enough damage to my skin during my teenage years.  Yeah, I cringe when I think about soaking up the uv rays while slathered in Hawaiian Tropic oil…with no SPF!  No wonder I have sensitive skin now!  Anyway, I’ve been loving mineral sunscreens lately (which are supposed to be safer) like this one from Native!  

Native sunscreen on blue and green beach towel - what to pack in your beach bag

With the Native coconut and pineapple scent, I feel transported back to the days of teenage beach adventures…ahh summer!  If you try these, just be sure to reapply often since the zinc oxide based sunscreens don’t seem to have the staying power that the more chemically based ones have. 

More Ideas to Pack the Perfect Beach Bag:

Beach Towels:

Obviously, beach towels are an essential for a trip to the beach.  These towels come in a variety of colors and are sold in packs of four.  (That way, you and your family can look coordinated on the beach!)

Beach Blanket:

Instead of lugging a bulky beach chair across the sandy beach, consider laying out on a beach blanket instead.  This large nylon beach mat has great reviews and folds up small enough to fit into your beach bag!  Plus, it’s the perfect size to fit a few people or maybe even your whole family!

Sandals or Flip Flops:

If you want to protect your feet from burning on the hot sand, don’t forget a pair of flip flops. This pair is similar to the ones I use on the beach and are super comfortable!

Not only are they comfortable but they are very affordable.  After all, there’s always someone on your family vacation who manages to lose everything!  (Yeah, that’s would be me sometimes!)

Sunglasses are a Must-Have for Your Beach Bag:

If you’re like me, you manage to lose your sunglasses every summer!  Instead of investing in a pair that you’ll eventually misplace, consider buying a few pairs of inexpensive sunglasses like these classic styles.

Sun Hat or Baseball Cap:

On the beach, you’ll want to protect your face from the burning rays so don’t forget a sun hat!  I’ve been eyeing up this pretty one for awhile now…

Of course, you could always go more casual on your next vacation and just wear a cute baseball hat!

Beach Toys to Keep the Little Kids (or Big Kids) Busy:

Once your kids are done swimming and building sand castles, keep them busy with a game of catch.  This velcro set is perfect for the beach and can fit right in your beach bag.  

To keep the sand out of your beach bag when you’re done, just bring a plastic bag with you.  (Another good idea of what to pack in your beach bag).

Waterproof Pouch:

Whether you’re swimming or just want to keep your cell phone dry on the beach, a waterproof phone pouch is a must have for your summer beach bag! For one that’s inexpensive, this phone pouch has great reviews!

And for that family member who can’t resist using their phone on the beach, bring along a portable phone charger like this one.

Here are a few more ideas of things to bring to the beach:

  • To protect your lips sunburn, use lip balm like this mineral based one.
  • No need to rely on lifeguards for a first aid kit, so bring your own!
  • If your spending a lot of time on the beach, an extra towel is always a good idea.
  • Remember to bring enough healthy snacks for the whole family.
  • Since you’ll want to hydrate, bring lots of water in an insulated water bottle like this popular brand.
  • Apparently, if you sprinkle baby powder on your body, it helps to get the sand off!

Shopping for a Beach Bag:

Now that you have a list of all the beach bag essentials, you’ll need a pretty beach tote to hold those items.

Whether you prefer a large tote bag, an insulated cooler bag or a pretty straw beach bag, here are some to choose from:

Shop for Beach Bags Here:

Not only are those beach bags pretty and practical but some of them can be monogrammed as well.  Who doesn’t love a monogrammed beach tote?  You might as well be stylish while relaxing on the beach!

For even more things to bring on the beach, here are some great finds to get you ready for your next beach vacation!

Hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas of what to pack in your beach bag this summer.  Now, go enjoy your next beach day!

And while you’re in a summer mood, don’t miss these blog posts:

What do you usually pack in your beach bag?

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Beach with umbrellas - what to pack in your beach bag this summer


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  1. Love that awesome pink striped bag – beautiful.
    I visited you via 690TH INSPIRE ME TUESDAY
    My entries this week = 46+47.
    If you have not joined us at SSPS yet, this is a personal invite to come and share your awesome post/s with us
    You will find the linkup information (1) In the Top bar under Blogging: Weekly Senior Salon Pit Stop OR 2nd image In the sidebar.
    We hope to meet you there virtually.

    1. Her books are so great to read on the beach! I’ll have to add 5 Star Weekend to my list – thanks!

  2. Hi Shelley. I just love the navy and white flip flops shown in your first photo. Do you know where I could find a pair? I just finished reading Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt and absolutely loved it!

    1. Thanks Jill! Actually, I bought those flip flops at a Bass outlet several years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t see them anywhere online at the moment. Also, I’ll have to take a look at that book! Thanks for the recommendation!

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