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.

Snorkeling in UV protection clothing
Snorkeling in UV protection clothing

In my opinion, the most practical is to wear 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.

People on a boat wearing sun hats
People on a boat wearing sun hats

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.

UV Resistence Sport Headband

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

Moreover, a headband is a practical travel accessory when renting a scooter or quad! Rental helmets are often (almost always) dirty and not hygienic, therefore I wear them with my headscarf that I can wash easily.


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 to find eco sunscreen in drug stores all over the world, but in some places, especially in Asia I found it difficult to get reef-safe products, therefore I recommend buying them in advance!


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.

Girl wears sunglasses on the beach
Girl wears sunglasses on the beach

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 whether you go for a 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 by using insect repellent. It is also a good idea to add a portable mosquito net to your beach vacation packing list that you can use indoors and outdoors 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.

Man is sitting on a beach towel
Don’t leave your travel towel at home!

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!

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 holder

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 (car immobilizer if I have a rental vehicle) and small valuables like credit cards or money into a waterproof key case to keep them dry as well as and safe.

You won’t need to leave your personal items unattended in your beach bag anymore when you go swimming. Just simply put them into the case and take them everywhere, even underwater.

WITZ waterproof key holder

  • keeps small valuables like keys and money dry
  • durable, crush-resistant
  • safe locking system
  • floats in water

Watertight holders are available in different shapes and sizes from the simplest waterproof pouches to professional dive cases. I prefer hard cases like the WITZ waterproof holder because I find them more reliable. It is very durable and floats in the water.

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.

Waterproof backpack

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

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.

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 whether you take them on a sunny day on the beach or in the city at night.

Girl is taking photos underwater with waterproof camera
Capture the beauty of the sea with your underwater camera!

Latest waterproof camera models feature special underwater modes that automatically correct the colors, so no post-processing is 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!

Power bank

Nowadays we don’t travel without a smartphone, which we not only use as a camera but often to store travel itineraries, 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.

Power bank and smartphone on the beach
With a power bank it is easy to charge your phone even on the beach

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 No products found. 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.

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

The ideal is to choose models that are water-resistant and easy to clean! Also, it is good to take with you beach shoes too that you can use while swimming to protect your foot.

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 soothe your hands. Wipe away germs and 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!

Woman on the beach with reusable water bottle
Take a reusable bottle always with you and reduce your plastic waste

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.

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

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 toiletries 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 toiletries shampoo body bar

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 shampoos, facial cleansers, 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 whether 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.

On 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!

Inspired? Pin it!

Travel essentials for beach holiday

"Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you."

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!