Must-Have Family Beach Vacation Packing List

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The fresh wind, the salty smell, and the sound of the waves crashing… Yes! It is finally time for that trip to the beach with the kids.

But first, let’s look at that family beach vacation packing list, to make sure all the essentials are packed.

And to find the perfect beach destination, head over to the Gowhee App, parents recommend their favorite places for kids and their families, all around the world with tons of beach hotels, restaurants, and other activities.

family beach vacation packing list cover : family going to the beach

1. A Beach Bag 

A big tote bag to keep your essentials in is a must-have for any beach vacation. You will want a bag that’s big enough for your towels, sunscreen, beach toys, water shoes, and anything else you might want to bring. Busy parents love this mesh beach bag, which allows sand to fall through instead of sticking around. When you’re choosing a beach bag, look for one that’s big and has pockets inside to help organize your gear. 

You also want to make sure you have a dry bag inside for your phone, keys, wallet, and anything else you don’t want to get wet. Some beach bags have special zippered pockets on the inside that are made with waterproof materials that will act as a dry bag. 

2. Beach Towels

Bring at least two big, colorful beach towels per person so that you can lay comfortably on hot sand and be able to dry off with a clean towel. If space is a concern, microfiber beach towels are just as effective at drying you off as terrycloth towels but take up much less space.

Families’ favorite is the poncho beach towel, which allows kids to change into dry clothes in privacy.

Child wearing a poncho towel
Photo by @amy-humphries

Must-Haves Family Beach Vacation Packing List

3. Sunscreen

You can’t leave sunscreen off your beach trip packing list. Choose a sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30 and is formulated for kids– these sunscreens are better for sensitive skin. Mineral sunscreens are most highly recommended for children as they are less irritating for sensitive skin and block more of the UV spectrum than other types of sunscreen. 

4. Sun Hats

Wide-brimmed sun hats protect little eyes and faces from the sun’s harshest rays. These are especially important for babies under six months because babies this young should not wear sunscreen. Babies this young can certainly go to the beach but should be kept out of direct sunlight and spend their time under an umbrella or other type of sunshade. Babies’ skin sunburns fast, so make sure they keep their sunhat on! A wide-brimmed sun hat is better than a baseball hat because it creates more shade for sensitive facial skin. 

5. Sunglasses

Don’t forget sunglasses for everyone coming on your family beach trip! Sunglasses protect the eyes and make everything more comfortable. Polarized sunglasses are a good choice. For kids, look for sunglasses with rubberized tips on the end of the frame’s arms. These will be less likely to fall off and get lost in the waves. You can also get cords for sunglasses that will make them less likely to get lost. Little eyes are extra sensitive to the sun’s bright light, so it’s a good idea to pack a couple of extra pairs, just in case. 

6. Flip Flops

Bring flip-flops for the whole family while walking on the beach– hot sand can hurt! You can toss the flip flops in the back of your car or in your beach bag when you’re done, so that sand doesn’t get everywhere. Flip flops also give your kids something to change into when they’re done wearing their water shoes that are less likely to track sand everywhere.

7. Extra Bathing Suits

It’s a good idea to bring extra bathing suits. You never know what may happen, and not having a bathing suit for everyone can really ruin a beach day! Make sure that all of your bathing suits fit your kids. If you bring a suit that’s too small or too large, or that doesn’t fit over a swim diaper if your toddlers use one of those, it’s just as bad as not having an extra suit to begin with.

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8. Water Shoes

Water shoes should be on every beach packing list for families. When your kids are splashing in the water, wearing shoes protects them from sharp shells and stubbing their toes on rocks. Be sure to choose water shoes that protect the toe and have a grippy sole. You also want to pick water shoes that are easy for your kids to put on.

Look for shoes with elastic loops at the back of the ankle, which will make them easy to put on and pull off when wet. Also, look for shoes with good drainage. Shoes that get clogged with sand are uncomfortable and will just lead to your kids pulling them off. 

9. Beach Toys

Beach toys are beach essentials! There are lots of different types of toys to bring to the beach. Shovels and sand pails are a must because everybody likes building sandcastles and digging in the sand. Frisbees and soft foam balls are great for casually tossing around. Kites are also super fun to bring to the beach because the ocean breezes provide a lot of lift and make it easy to soar to great heights. 

Kickboards and boogie boards can be very fun, especially if the waves aren’t too wild. However, you might not want to bring your kids’ favorite inflatables. While these are super cute and are great fun in the pool, the wind at the beach will often pick these up and send them skidding down the sand.

Mom Hack: If you have infants and toddlers, bring a kiddie pool like this one. You can fill it up with seawater, so the little one can enjoy the water, stay safe and parents can relax.

children play with a kite
Photo by @ron-lach

10. Snacks

Whether you’re road-tripping or on a day trip from a resort or hotel, every beach trip needs snacks! Include snacks that will help kids rehydrate, like fresh fruit and veggies, and don’t bring anything too complicated. Beaches have a lot of sand and wind, so you don’t want to bring snacks that you have to prepare. You also want to avoid anything sticky or too salty. Whatever snacks you bring, make sure you can reseal the container so that sand stays out! 

11. Refillable Water Bottles

It’s important to stay hydrated while you’re playing at the beach. Younger kids and babies are very sensitive to heat and can quickly become overheated and dehydrated, so you need to make sure that you have water available. Bring eco-friendly refillable water bottles with you to make sure that everybody has enough cool water to drink. When you get to the beach, check around to see if there’s a water station where you can refill when you’re done; many snack shacks and concession stands will also let you refill your water bottles.

Great if you travel light: This water bottle folds when it is empty.

12. Water

It’s easy to get dehydrated on the mountain because you’re cold and don’t feel the need to drink water, but it’s still important so keep asking kids to drink to prevent feeling hill afterward. You could go with a traditional water bottle or opt for a smart way to get your water ratio on the slopes with a hiking backpack with a water pouch like these.

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13. Rash Guards

Rash guards are lightweight long-sleeved shirts made of water-friendly materials. Originally, they were worn by surfers, but now they are common sights at any beach because they’re great at protecting against sunburns. It can be hard to get your kids to come out of the water and reapply sunscreen every 40 minutes, so a rash guard can help protect their skin.

Kids with sensory sensitivities may prefer a rash guard over the feeling of sunscreen on their skin… or they may hate a rash guard and prefer the sunscreen. You know your kid’s needs best, so you’ll know what the right choice to make is.

Most importantly, be safe and have a ton of fun! Did we miss something? Tell us below.

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