Our Guide to the Beach: What to Wear and Pack in Your Bag

Ahead of a day in the sand, get everything that goes in your bag and on your body.

aerial top view of people sitting on a sandy beach
Felix CesareGetty Images

Ah, summer: the time of year for sweating through your shirt, slathering yourself in sunscreen, and struggling to eat melting ice cream, all in the grandeur of the great outdoors. For coastal folks, trips to the beach are the season's punctuation marks; respite from the race of everyday life.

But days on the beach require at least a little bit of planning. Some places require beach tags — essentially tickets — even for one-day visits. Others have slim windows you're allowed to swim within. However, there's another task you shan't forget: packing a beach bag. What goes within is up to you, but remember: it'll be your lifeline, where you turn to when the sun's becoming too hot, whenever you need to change out of wet shorts.

Below, you'll find guides for all of your beach bag essentials. Whether you're dressed in your swim trunks, t-shirt and hat as you head down or you change upon arrival, there's apparel, accessories, skincare products and more to shop — plus the bags to put them all in. Pack wisely.

What to Carry

The Best Tote Bags to Take to the Beach

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All the best beach-ready totes from simple canvas classics to feature-packed carryalls.

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What to Wear

The Best Swim Trunks for Summer Aren’t Just for Swimming

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Easy-wearing, nondescript and tough as nails, today’s best swim trunks can go from the beach to the bar — and everywhere in-between.

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14 Slides to Wear This Summer

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More than a dozen sandals selected by us and sorted by price.

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12 Great Board Shorts to Buy Now

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From Outerknown, Patagonia, Birdwell and more.

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The 15 Best Basic T-Shirts You Can Buy

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The best plain t-shirts you can buy, from the multi-packs to the one-off grails.

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What to Bring

The Best Cheap Sunglasses You Can Afford to Lose

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Don't stress if yours disappear into the sand.

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The 10 Best Baseball Caps to Wear This Summer

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A bunch of options you can wear beyond the ballpark.

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12 Great Bucket Hats to Wear This Season

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Whether it’s in a classic cotton twill, an indigo iteration or rip-resistant nylon, a bucket hat is a great way to top off a fit.

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The Best Sunscreen for Every Need

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Our guide to sunscreens — the terms to know, types and tons more.

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The Best Sunscreen Spray for Everyday Protection

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Sprayable sunscreens are easier to apply but still safeguard your skin against the sun's harmful rays.

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The Best Mineral Sunscreens

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A mineral sunscreen sits atop your skin and reflects harmful UVA and UVB rays.

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Back Home?

The Best Aloe Vera Gels, Lotions and Sprays for Sunburn

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Gear Patrol

Beyond aloe swiped straight from the plant, these products promise the fastest relief.

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The Best Swimmer Shampoos

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These clarifying shampoos remove chlorine, salt and other swim-related residues.

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