Packing List for an Epic (and Safe!) Beach Vacation

Beach Packing List

Packing for a beach vacation is not for the faint-of-heart. Besides the beach toys and other paraphernalia, you need to think about keeping everyone safe during those dangerous sun times. Oh, and keeping your hair from being a frizz ball, your skin from humidity breakouts, and everyone entertained in the car. No big deal, right? 

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Packing Epic Beach Vacation

The Epic & Safe Beach Trip Packing List

Growing up, I spent many, many summers in Galveston and here, near Austin, we are only three hours from the beach so we take day trips or weekend trips to Port Aransas, Corpus Christi, or South Padre.

But our week-long trips to Florida are our family’s favorite – especially my daughter’s who loves any and everything beach. I swear she will live on the beach one day when she is older – and I will be very happy to visit her. 🙂

We can have fun on the beach with just a few essentials – goggles, hats, and lots of sunscreen. But, if you are going to be there for a while, a few extra things can come in handy. 

{Note: I’m rethinking my sunscreen recommendation and will get back to you after more trips to the pool. }

Products to keep you safe

1 – Columbia Sun Shirts

Not only are these shirts lightweight and comfortable but they prevent you from feeling like the burning rays are penetrating your skin…for good reason. These shirts have built-in SPF and they are cool and lightweight. I love the button down ones because I can throw them over my swimsuit as a cover-up, wear a tank top underneath, or put it on inside a restaurant if I’m cold.

2 – O’Neill Surf Shirts

These puppies keep our skin from burning. Period. We don’t wear them when we are at the beach at night but if we are out in the sun during the hottest parts of the day, these shirts keep us protected.

3 – Sea Lice Lotion

A few years ago I would have rolled my eyes if someone had suggested this product to me. Sea Lice? Apparently sea lice are real and although they don’t seem to affect everyone – my daughter, hubby, and I are usually fine – if they do get you, it’s very uncomfortable.

My son was bitten by these the last two summers we were at the beach and it was very difficult and painful for him to get in the ocean for a few days. Basically, these little monsters cause an itchy, irritating rash and when it comes in contact with the saltwater, the skin burns and stings.

This year we are tried this jelly fish sting protective lotion from Safe Sea  and I’m happy to report that my son was perfectly fine! Whoo-Hooo, whether the lotion worked or he was lucky and didn’t run into any sea lice, I can’t say. But, we’ll stick with this lotion just in case.

4 – Flip Flops

Hot sand hurts and so do nails or other things in the road. We usually bring one nice pair to wear around town and then grab some of the cheap ones to wear to the beach or pool. Teva is still my favorite brand!

Hair and face


5 – Chlorine Hair Protection

My little one is part fish and she swims all the time. She also has dirty blond, fine hair so we wet down her hair and use Aqua Guard Defend Your Hair before she goes to the pool. Not only does it smell wonderful but her hair is much softer when she gets out of the pool.


6 – Beach Hair Leave-In Conditioner and UV Protection

This hair conditioner is made without the bad stuff, produced in the U.S.A. and has over 400 fantastic reviews! I  love the coconut smell and our hair is much, much softer after we use this product. Love it!

7 – Face Toner

This Obagi face toner is fantastic as is the face wash that goes with it. It’s perfect for oily skin and it’s a must to combat the humidity of the beach. Many products are made with salicyclic acid but I have never used any that are this effective at keeping my skin under control without making it too dry.

Staying comfortable

8 – Beach Chairs

I love having beach chairs so I can get off the sand yet keep my feet in the water. Because you can anchor them into the sand, they don’t fall over easily with the wind and you can move them around or carry them along the beach easily. (We picked up our chair at a store by the beach but these from Amazon got good reviews.) 

9 – Pacific Breeze Shade Tent

This thing is awesome for one main reason – it is a breeze (ha, ha) to put up. It takes about 3 minutes to get it up and 3 minutes to get it down. Easy!

Now, this is a smaller tent and people who have a difficult time sitting on the ground may not like this. But this is great for families who are mainly going to be on the beach but need some shade every now and then.

It’s light and simple to carry, too, so this Pacific Breeze Shade Tent has come in handy when we’ve gone to beaches I like knowing that we’re never far from shade when when carry this with us. 

Oh, and yes, check out the reviews. We’re not the only ones who love it!

Kid {and Adult!} Fun

10 – Boogie Boards

My kids spend hours and hours riding the waves on boogie boards. They are lightweight, easy-to-carry and my kids use the heck out of them at the pool too. You don’t have to blow them up and the string makes them easy to pull out of the water.

11 – Skimboards

I’ll be honest, my kiddos don’t ride the skim board we have very often but we got them because so many kids spend hours running along the shore, releasing this board, and then surfing on them. We had to give it a try!

This time around, though, I noticed that they make non-wooden skim boards which I think it is the way to go. They are more expensive but the wooden ones are heavy and they weren’t as smooth on the water.

Be warned; it’s really one of those looks-easy-but-isn’t type of things – at least for me! -but if your kid is into it, they will happily spend hours running up and down the beach with these things. 

12 – Glow Sticks

Night Time beach fun is a whole other thing. And glow sticks are a perfect way for you to keep track of your kids, create a glowing border around your stuff, and simply provide lots of ways for you to play.

13 – Glow in the dark anything

Since playing the water is out of the question at night, the kids need other things to do on the beach. A few glow-in-the-dark balls that can be thrown or hidden allows them to play on the sand for hours.

14 – Shovels and Buckets

Making sand castles is a must and we splurged on these crazy looking buckets this year. They allow you to easily make 3-tiered towers that are smooth and stay up! They worked really well. These castle building molds have amazing reviews, a video that explains how they work, and is liked by all ages. 

I love building sand castles so I actually have a sand castle building wish list! I’d like to get some legit shovels. It’s pretty frustrating to have shovels break on you so these shovels should allow us to save some serious time and get our buckets filled quickly! And the sculpting tools in this bag have won major awards and even legit castle builders rave about them. 

15 – Nets

Nets are really fun for nighttime at the beach. My kids and hubby like to catch sea creatures like crabs and jelly fish, putting in a bucket, sharing them with  people on the beach, and then releasing. This year they caught a huge blue crab, jellyfish, and a hermit crab.

There you  have it, there’s our ultimate beach packing list. Throw in a few of your own basics such as clothing and toiletries and you are good to go! Enjoy the sand and waves a bit for me, will you?

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out:

8 Mistakes to Avoid on your Next Family Vacation

8 Minimalist Road Trip Tips

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