I lived in Los Angeles for almost a decade and I spent a majority of my time at the beach. Over time I have perfected what to bring to the beach! I’m always prepared for a good time on beach day. I would travel up and down to the coast finding new beaches and secluded spots to take it all in, and I still do when I’m near the ocean!
In all of that time of going to the beach, I’ve learned what not to forget and what’s just not necessary to bring. Especially near a city like LA, you wouldn’t want to drive all the way back to your hotel in traffic. Then just sit in more traffic to get back to the beach. That could easily take a few hours and ruin what could have been a great beach day. But to avoid those bad experiences, here’s a packing list for your next beach day to help you stay organized and have fun!
The Beach Day Packing List
Beach Bag / Dry Bag
A nice sized beach bag or dry bag helps keep your valuables safe from the elements. Try to get a bag that is waterproof, and has a good secure zipper on it. And getting something that is bright in color that stands out is better. Just in case you wander off a bit searching for sand dollars or sea glass.
Having a large beach blanket is essential for a beach day! It’s enough to keep the sand out of your stuff and to have a nice place to lay down and soak in the rays. If you get a couple of beach towels or even a beach mat you can have a small picnic at the beach.
This depends on if you plan on actually getting in the water. If you’re at the beach on the pacific ocean, it tends to have very cold water year round. The Alaskan current sends cold water down the west coast of the United States. If you go far enough south like LA or San Diego then you might want to jump in to escape the heat!
Mini First Aid Kit
You never know what’s going to happen at the beach. There’s a ton of ocean life that can harm you, even sharp coral can cut you pretty bad. Having a mini first aid kit can help you be prepared in case something happens. I’m not talking about any major first aid kit. Just something simple with gauze, ointment, bandages and maybe even ace bandage.
You never know what you’re going to get into when you’re at the beach. There are endless reasons on why to keep sanitizing wipes in your beach bag at all times. From accidentally stepping on a dead crab to getting pooped on by a pelican the possibilities are endless.
Even on a cloudy day or when you’re swimming, the rays from the sun can do some serious damage to your skin. There’s no excuse for not wearing sunscreen. As an environmentally conscious traveler, I only use safe, non-toxic sunscreen that won’t hurt the wildlife. Try to stay away from sunscreens with octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, or homosalate on their ingredients list. These chemicals are not safe for the environment.
There usually aren’t too many bugs around at the beach but it’s always better to be prepared. Depending on the season and what beach you’re going to they could actually be quite a big annoyance. And of course, use an environmentally safe bug spray that isn’t aerosol spray.
Flip Flops or Water Shoes
Maybe you don’t like that slimy feeling of the ocean floor. Or maybe you are at a more rocky beach. You’ll need swim shoes to help protect your feet from the sharp rocks, coral and slimy algae. But regardless it’s nice to have some flip flops as an alternative to your regular shoes for the beach.
A Light Sweater or Jacket
The beach is usually a nice calm, hot spot to relax. But with the constant waves pushing in the shore there’s a lot of wind at the beach. If you end up enjoying the sunset at the beach then shortly after the temperature drops. Having a light jacket or sweater can make the walk back to the car or home a lot more enjoyable.
I can’t tell you how many times I have lost a pair of nice sunglasses at the beach. It’s happened so often my friends and I, that we just started buying dollar store sunglasses for our beach trips. This way, when you do end up losing your glasses, at least you’re only are out a dollar.
Assorted Zipper Plastic Bags
Having assorted zipper lock bags in different sizes can really come in handy. You can use a smaller bag to keep your cellphone in to prevent water damage. Of you could even use some of the bags to sort through sea glass, sand dollars and other beach combing items to bring home or gift to loved ones.
Sometimes, on a nice calm day at the beach I like to just lay back, listen to the waves, and read a good book. Or, try a new book in general. I find that it’s much easier to get into a new book if you enjoy it in a peaceful place like a beach.
Portable Battery Pack
Staying at the beach all day, or for an extended period of time, can be a ton of fun. But after taking a bunch of photos and using your other electronics like portable speakers you’ll eventually run out of power. Packing a fully charged portable battery pack (or even two) can help your devices last longer so the fun never stops!
Solar Phone Charger
Why not harness the energy of the sun on a beautiful day at the beach! Having a solar phone charger frees up your portable battery pack for other devices or for when the sun goes down. Also, there are rugged versions available for solar chargers. Opting for a waterproof and shock resistant solar phone charger will ensure it will last for years to come.
Spare Change for the Meter
While most beaches that have metered parking usually have options for credit card payment, those machines aren’t always working. And not all beaches are so up to date as others and they may not have this option at all. Having at least a few dollars of spare change will ensure you’ll be able to enjoy at least a couple of hours at the beach. Of course, not all beaches even have metered parking, some are just free. But be aware of any posted signs, sometimes there are limits to how long you can park somewhere. Often times you’ll see parking signs that say “Open Sunrise to Sunset”. Just be sure to move your car before it gets too late, and allow yourself time to pack up and get back to your car before it’s too late.
If you have kids with you then a small shovel and pale to make sand castles out of. Or you can get sand molding kits for kids to make all kinds of crazy sand sculptures. Even if you aren’t at the beach with a family or kids, playing with beach toys can be ton of fun! Bring a football to toss around, or a frisbee to throw. Maybe a hacky-sack is more your style? Or you’re at the beach alone and don’t have anyone to play catch with, bring a kite! Whatever you have fun with outside, bring it.
Make it Your Own!
There are all kinds of things you can bring to the beach. And as you go more and more you’ll start to figure out what is most important for you to bring. I love to whale watch when I’m at a beach the right time of the year. But there have been too many time’s where the whales are out there but I just can’t quite get a good look at them. So now I bring a pair of binoculars every time I go to the beach. Even when it’s not whale watching season, I can still use them for other beach wildlife like dolphins or sea lions. Next time you go to the beach use this packing list or be prepared with your own customized list for your needs.