15 travel essentials that have to be on your beach vacation packing list

Are you leaving soon for a holiday by the sea but don’t know exactly what travel essentials your beach vacation packing list should include? The more I travel, the better I become in selecting what to bring and what not to, so here I share my ultimate list of beach must-have accessories hoping to give some great tips for your next trip!

15 essential beach vacation packing list items

I admit I was carrying way too much stuff when I started visiting faraway countries. I realized quickly that most things were unnecessary, while I missed some important travel essentials. This post won’t focus on snorkel gear but on must-have travel essentials that I always take when leaving for a vacation. (However, I assume that you will do snorkeling too on your holiday, so read my snorkeling equipment guide too to know what things I recommend to use)

Best beach vacation packing list

UV protective clothing

I cannot stress enough how important protecting your skin from the harmful sun rays is. The UV index is so high that you can get sunburned in 10-15 minutes, especially in tropical countries when you spend the whole day near the sea and white sand that multiply reflection. You have to cover yourself not only when at the beach and while snorkeling, but every time you stay in the sun even if it’s only a sightseeing excursion.

I found the most practical wearing UV protective rash guard (long sleeves are the best). These cover most areas of your body so you can minimize your sunscreen usage. These lightweight and quick-drying shirts and shorts are always the first items that I check on my beach vacation packing list, I never leave without them.

Sun hat / Baseball cap / headband

After covering your body, think about protecting your head too! Don’t forget to put a sun hat or baseball cap into your suitcase so you can stay in the sun without getting sunburn or heat stroke.

A multifunctional headband is also on my beach vacation packing list that I can use for various purposes. Mainly, I wear it while snorkeling. It not only helps me to avoid getting sunburned on the head, but also keeps the hair off the face. Moreover, a headband is a practical travel accessory when renting scooter or quad! Rental helmets are often (almost always) dirty and not hygienic, therefore I wear it with my headscarf that I can wash easily.

UV Resistence Sport Headband

  • seamless bandana in stylish colors
  • streachable and breathable soft material
  • UV resistance, perfect for outdoor activities
  • quick-drying and lightweight

Sunscreen

You might have long sleeve UV clothes and also a sun hat, but of course you can’t cover yourself from head to toe all the time, so you need to apply some sunscreen too. In order to do the best for your skin and for the environment, make sure that you use ocean-friendly sun care products that don’t harm the sea. However, it is becoming more and more common finding eco sunscreen in drug stores all over the world, but at some places, especially in Asia I found difficult to get reef safe products, therefore I recommend buying them in advance!

Sunglasses

Don’t let fashion trends fool you and avoid buying cheap in fast fashion shops or at markets. Buy sunglasses that have quality lenses to prevent UV rays caused sun effects such as cataracts, pterygium or macular degeneration.
Near water, the best is to use polarized sunglasses that reduce glare and improve the ability to see objects in the water. Polarized lenses have a special filter that blocks intense light providing you with bigger comfort and better visibility.

Polarized Sport Sunglasses

  • sport sunglasses with impact resistant lenses and superior frames
  • ideal for outdoor activities, fishing, cycling, running and driving too
  • 100% UVA and UVB protection
  • lightweight, comfortable and durable design

Mosquito repellent

The ‘mosquito problem’ exists all over the world, no matter you go for holiday to the mountains or to a beach destination. You need to be extremely cautious when traveling to the tropics where the risk of getting dangerous diseases like Zika, malaria or dengue fever is the highest. Therefore, protect yourself by wearing long sleeves clothes when going outside in the evening and use insect repellent. It is also a good idea adding a portable mosquito net to your beach vacation packing list that you can use indoor and outdoor too.

Travel towel

Lightweight, fast-drying travel towels saved my life several times when traveling so I believe these are must-have travel essentials on a beach vacation packing list. They don’t take so much space in your baggage, but come extremely useful when the hotel towels are dirty, or on boat trips where towels are not provided.

Moreover, besides its original function you can use a travel towel for various other purposes too! You can sit on it, use it as a blanket, scarf or skirt and with a little creativity, it can serve you as a carry bag too. Get them in different sizes!

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Travel towel

  • ultra-soft microfiber travel towel for travel and outdoor activities
  • quick-drying and extremely absorbent
  • with carry bag and quick-nap hang loop
  • different colors and sizes to choose from

Waterproof key case

A watertight keyholder  is another top travel accessory on my beach vacation packing list that I never leave at home. When I go swimming or snorkeling, I always put the room key (scooter/car key if I have a rental vehicle) and small valuables like credit car or money into a waterproof key case. You can get them in different shapes and sizes, and there are waterproof pouches also available.

I prefer hard cases because I find them more reliable. My advice is to do a water test with only a tissue inside before using the case with your keys. Close the lid properly, go swimming, dive with it and if the tissue remains dry, the seal is good so you can put your keys inside.

Waterproof bag

Beach bags are stylish and fancy, but my recommendation is to use a waterproof bag to carry your stuff. It will protect your valuables from water, sand and dirt and also practical when heading home from the beach. Just simply put all your wet stuff in the waterproof bag and it will keep all the draining water inside. You won’t make yourself wet and also won’t damage the car seats.

To store small things like phone, wallet or key the smaller ones such as 2 l or 5 l models are great, but if you get a bigger, 15 l or 25 l waterproof backpack, you will be able to put in all your stuff including beach accessories and also your snorkel gear.

Waterproof backpack

  • all-weather waterproof backpack with secure closing 
  • extra zippered pockets
  • heavy-duty PVC material
  • padded back support for maximum comfort

Underwater camera

A compact underwater camera is the best choice for any beach holiday that you can use on land and in the water too. Today’s’ smart, pocket-size models take high-quality photos and thanks to the pre-set modes, your pictures will be always sharp and bright in all conditions no matter you take them on a sunny day on the beach or in the city at night.

Latest waterproof camera models feature special underwater modes that automatically corrects the colors, so no post-processing required in order to take excellent footage. However, learning some tips on how to improve your snorkeling photos might be useful too. If prefer action cameras, a GoPro  is also a good choice!

Travel essentials for beach holiday

Power bank

Nowadays we don’t travel without a smartphone, that we not only use as a camera, but often to store travel itinerary, bookings and maps on it. Hence, it is really annoying when you don’t have access to your documents because of an empty phone battery.

Moreover, in remote beach locations, especially on islands you might experience power cuts too so it can happen that you can’t use your devices when you would need them. To solve this problem and be able to always charge at least your phone, take a waterproof power bank  with you that will save your dying batteries and also you from getting lost!

Flat shoes

The beach is not the place where you need to show off in high heels. I understand that you want to look pretty, but the best is to take comfortable flat shoes with you that you can wear on the beach and when going out in the evening too. Ideal is choosing models that are water-resistant and easy-to-clean!

Flat sandals for beach

  • handmade braided women beach sandals
  • high-quality rubber and soft nylon for durability
  • water resistant material that is perfect for beach activities
  • stylish design and comfortable fit

Sanitizer spray

By the sea and when traveling you don’t always have the opportunity of washing your hands after using the bathroom or before grabbing a snack from a restaurant. Therefore, it is highly recommended to add a hand sanitizer spray or biodegradable sanitizing wipes   to your beach vacation packing list that not only clean but also sooth your hands. Wipe away germs, dirt and enjoy staying hygienic in all situations!

Refillable water bottle

The amount of plastic that enters our oceans is increasing day-by-day and it is our responsibility to reduce the impact on our environment. Using a refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water is a simple yet powerful action to reduce plastic usage in our everyday life. Keep this habit when on holiday too!

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Water Bottle

  • high-quality double wall, leak-proof vacuum insulated bottle
  • keeps drinks cold for 48 hours, hot for 24 hours
  • 2 caps in the package
  • food-grade stainless steel and non-toxic plastic materials

Popular beach holiday destinations like Thailand, Bali or the Maldives don’t have good waste-management systems like more developed countries in the US or Europe, therefore take some effort and do your best to create as little waste as possible. The best are insulated bottles that keep your drink cold/hot for a couple of hours!

Shampoo bars and solid bar cosmetic products

Taking solid cosmetic products to your vacation has many benefits! You might think about the advantage of using packaging-free items and like this, creating less waste, but this is just one aspect. Solid bar shampoos  and body care items are lighter and take less space in your luggage, moreover last longer and don’t leak! Get a few organic shampoo, facial cleanser and moisturizer bars or buy them locally. I’m sure you never will go back to heavy shower gel and shampoo bottles!

Personal medications

No matter you leave for a snorkeling trip or just for sightseeing, always put into your luggage among the first items the medications you take regularly and a travel first aid kit . Foreign countries have different pills and use different ingredients, so take all the medications that you will need during your holiday.

From the other hand, keep in mind that if you get a local disease, seek medical help immediately! Don’t try to cure it with your usual pills since they might be not effective against the local bacteria. Last but not least, never travel without insurance! Accidents can happen and even small injuries can cost a lot, so prepare yourself for these situations!

Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

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