What to Wear to the Beach

By Ashley Friedman; Updated August 11, 2017

Stylish and practical looks for a beach outing

What to Wear to the Beach

A trip to the beach is such a perfect way to spend a summer day: waves, water, sun and the soothing sounds of the surf crashing on the shore. However, packing for the beach can be less than relaxing: Pack too little, and you may forget something that ruins your day. Pack too much and you risk spending the day dragging a heavy bag around in the heat. Pack practically to make the most of your day at the shore.

What to bring

  1. Sunscreen. This can't be overstated. Sea breezes and cooling ocean spray can make the sun feel less strong than it is, but UV exposure is still very strong, and sun rays reflect off water, increasing your risk of burning. Be sure to read all the directions on your sunscreen bottle, and reapply often. 
  2. Cover up. Bring a beach cover-up to wear while you're at the beach to protect yourself from sun exposure and to keep your regular clothes dry between dips in the water. A loose oversized t-shirt works well for kids, as well as an oversized button down which can do double-duty as a blanket when opened and spread on the sand.
  3. Underwear. Bring a spare pair of underwear for everyone coming to the beach. Riding home in a wet bathing suit is no fun, so having a spare pair of underwear or boxers to change into at the end of the day can go a long way to making the return from the beach pleasant and comfortable
  4. Zippable plastic bags. These are great to have on hand at the beach. You can toss wet bathing suits in them when it's time to head home, and keep the damp clothes from soaking everything in your beach bag. They also come in hand when you're trying to protect valuables like smartphones, wallets and cash from getting wet or sandy. 

What to leave behind

  1. Heavy boots and shoes. Skip sneakers, boots or anything made of heavy fabrics or with complicated laces. Choose sandals or flip flops made of light material that can come off easily.
  2. Excessive reading material. Bring one book or magazine for each person coming to the beach and leave the rest behind. Lugging tons of heavy reading material can be exhausting and add clutter to your car. 
  3. Expensive electronics. For pictures, rely on a smartphone in a waterproof case. Sand and water can easily damage electronics like digital cameras, and it's easy to mislay such small items when there's a lot of foot traffic on your towel. 

Other considerations

Bring snacks, especially if traveling with children. Most beach-side areas do have snack and drink options, but they may be closed or overcrowded. Standing in long lines in the sun with a group of cranky kids is a great way to ruin a beach day, so be sure to pack water, juice, and some snacks like nuts, pretzels and berries.

Instead of lying on towels, bring a large, lightweight sheet to act as a beach blanket. Sheets fold up smaller than towels and are significantly lighter to carry when you're making that trek across the sand in search of the perfect shoreline spot.

About the Author

Ashley Friedman