Wanderlust List: The Best East Coast Beaches
Your summer vacation on the Atlantic awaits.
There’s something truly beautiful about the simplicity of a beach day. It’s just you, the water, the sand, and the sun…and the zillion other things you throw into your beach bag. While lugging everything you own onto the hot sand isn’t exactly the most relaxing way to start your day of leisure, forgetting the essentials can cause problems of their own. To keep your beach bag packing as stress-free and streamlined as possible, we’ve crafted the perfect beach packing list. Make sure all of these things are tucked inside your bag and get ready to enjoy the sun.
When it comes to what to wear, you want options that can hold up to the elements and are versatile enough to suit anything the day has in store.
When it comes to what swimsuit you plan on bringing along for your beach day, consider what you’ll be doing. Plan on lounging most of the day? A bikini top and bottom is quintessentially beachy. If you’ll be more active, consider a supportive one piece that will allow you to move around without worry.
You never know where a beach day may take you, so be prepared with a cover-up that can do double duty. Throw on a palazzo pant or wrap skirt over your bathing suit for a chic two-piece look that can take you from the sand to dinner with the girls. If you anticipate a slight chill in the air (perhaps during sunset happy hour), consider adding a lightweight layer like a breezy sweater or top.
Slides or flip-flops make going from pavement to sand super easy—just slip them on and off when needed. But, if you are heading somewhere with a more rugged landscape (think rocks), consider something with a heel strap. Regardless of what style you opt for, waterproof material is ideal.
Protect your eyes—and make it easier to see in the sun—with a pair of well-fitting polarized sunglasses that won’t slide down your nose when you get sweaty. If you’re going to wear your shades in the water or get active on the beach, attach a sunglass strap for added security and that retro-cool ‘90s look.
Go for a wide-brim sun hat or a baseball cap with built-in UV protection to shield your skin and eyes from the rays. Bonus: The extra shade makes it easier to see your e-reader or phone screen.
Don’t forget to pack things that will protect you from the elements and keep you hydrated and fed.
Plan on bringing enough sunscreen so you’re able to reapply at least every two hours or after each swim. But not all sunscreen is created equal. Make sure yours has broad-spectrum protection and is at least a SPF 30. You can either grab a formula made for face and body, or bring two separate bottles. Also helpful: A lip balm with SPF protection.
Waterproof, silicone pouches in various sizes are perfect for storing snacks, protecting valuables, and keeping smaller items organized. You may also want to pick up a waterproof dry bag for wet bathing suits, clothes, or kids gear that you want to keep separate from everything else in your beach bag.
Hydration is key; so bring an insulated bottle that can keep your water cool even after hours in the hot sun.
Terry cloth towels take up a lot of space. Instead, opt for Turkish towels; they’re lightweight, can be rolled tightly and can double as a scarf or sarong.
If you’re headed to a beach without much shade, an umbrella can be a real savior—but those ones you have to screw into the sand can also be a real pain. A better option for novices: An umbrella that can clip onto your chair.
People watching, playing in the surf, and dozing off are all perfectly acceptable (and encouraged!) activities. But if you want a little more, these options are smart to have on hand.
There’s nothing quite like reading on the beach—and perhaps dozing off to the sound of crashing waves after a few good chapters. If you use an e-reader, make sure to download any books or articles in advance so you don’t have to worry about WiFi or cellular signals at the beach.
If you can, go with wireless headphones; that way, you can keep your phone tucked away and protected from the hot sun while you listen to your favorite podcast or that quintessential beach playlist you made.
If you have the space, it’s always nice to include a few toys on your beach packing list—for kids and adults. Inflatable beach balls and paddle games are pretty easily packable and take up minimal space.