Summer Beach Bag Essentials

beach bag essentials

Summer is finally here, and that means it’s time to dust off the old beach bag and start updating my beach bag must-haves. I LOVE THE BEACH, and I have never lived more than a few hours from one. Growing up, we lived just five hours from Virginia Beach, and we went to the beach every summer of my childhood. When I went away to college in Massachusetts, there was a beach just 10 minutes from my dorm. Then when I got married and moved to Philadelphia, I discovered the Jersey Shore. (Don’t believe all the stuff you see on TV. There are some really nice areas at the Jersey Shore, and we try to get down there a couple of times every summer.)

Then of course there’s the swimming pool. My kids have been begging to go to the pool since it opened on Memorial Day weekend, so I’ve been gathering all the essential items that I’ll need for a new summer of pool days and beach trips.

Every year I replace my old sunscreens and lip balms, and I like to get a new water bottle. I also stock up on snacks because I hate paying snack bar prices, and I try to control the amount of junk that my kids consume, although that is a losing battle as they get older, let me tell you.

Here’s what I’ll be toting in my beach bag this summer.

Summer Beach Bag Essentials

1. Sunscreen: Naturally, sunscreen is at the top of my list of summer beach bag essentials. I’m very particular about the sunscreen I put on my family, and I rely on the EWG Guide to Sunscreens to guide my choices each year. My old favorite was discontinued, so I’m currently on the hunt for something new. I ordered this SkinCeuticals SPF 30 Sunscreen on Amazon, but it’s tiny, so I will be looking for something more affordable. It does work well, though. I tried it out when I was at a a music festival, sitting in the direct sun for the entire afternoon, and it definitely does the job. Unfortunately, $30 for 1.7 ounces is not gonna cut it with 3 kids needing sun protection all summer long.


2. Lip Balm: I just ordered this Supergoop! AcaiFusion Lip Balm with SPF 30, and I can’t wait to try it.

Supergoop! AcaiFusion Lip Balm

3. Blot Powder: This stuff is amazing. I will use my beloved Supergoop CC Cream in the morning when I apply my beach makeup routine, but that will stay at the hotel. I do always carry my MAC Blot Powder in my purse, and I make sure to have it when I go anywhere that I might sweat. Read my full review.


MAC Blot Powder4. Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle: An insulated water bottle is a must for the beach, and this one boasts a double wall vacuum insulation, premium grade 18/8 stainless steel that is BPA free, a powder-coated matte finish exterior that never sweats, AND a lifetime warranty. My son has one, and it is fantastic. I’m about to order one for each of the rest of us.

Beach Bag Essentials: Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

5. Straw Hat: This is on my short list of things I need this year. I usually wear a ballcap, but I really want a cute straw fedora or floppy sun hat for the beach this year.

straw hat

6. Sunnies: Of course you can’t forget your sunglasses! 


7. Beach Towel: A few years ago, a friend gifted me with a Vera Bradley beach towel for Christmas. I use it all the time, and it’s held up great. It’s large, thick and absorbent. And also, CUTE!

Beach Bag Essentials: Vera Bradley Beach Towel

8. Flip Flops: I love Havaianas. They have so many cute and colorful options, they hold up well, and the price tag won’t break the bank.


9. Cute Coverup: For more choices, see my post 33 Stylish Coverups for Under $50.

capri tunic wrap

10. Snacks: My latest obsession is these Wild Garden Hummus Snack Packs, an all-natural, healthy snack for families on the go. These are great to throw in your bag for the beach or pool. They also make a great little snack for the kids to take to school.

Wild garden hummus

11. A Great Beach Bag: Of course, having a great bag is half the battle. I love the Stella & Dot Avalon tote (pictured above). This crisp and modern perforated tote in the trendy blush color is gorgeous, and it includes a pouch perfect for your keys and phone. I couldn’t help but picture it in my collage above. But honestly, that’s a pretty hefty price for a bag that’s going to be drug through the sand. A more practical and affordable bag is the How Does She Do It. The navy and white Ikat is great for summer.


Or check out Target’s great selection of straw beach bags.

Women's Woven Straw Tote Handbag with Fringe Tassel

12. A good book. Check out my list of great summer beach reads.

That about covers it, dontcha think!? With this list, you’ll have everything you need for a perfect day at the pool or beach.

Join The Conversation

8 Responses

  1. We just got back from the Jersey Shore on Thursday, and I so want to go back! These are great ideas for readers to have when they are at the beach. I used the beach makeup routine when we were down there, and it took me 7 minutes to have a nicely made up face for the beach and boardwalk. Have fun!

  2. That water bottle is the best for summer. Even on 90 degree plus days the water is still cold the next day. The only bummer is they cannot use them at school. But great for summer activities. I also agree on the baseball hat.

  3. I was born in NJ but moved away when I was 5. We still went back for 3+ weeks until I was 20 to a lovely place called Ocean Grove. It was a best. And I always say to everyone too that it was nothing like any of the NJ reality shows.
    I have a beach bag from Lululemon that was a little expensive but was worth it. You can drag it through the sand and won’t see a mark. It’s a vinyl coated canvas which wears so well. Doesn’t get brittle like straw or dirty like canvas.

  4. We found that the Kleen canteen was by far superior. Make sure the top is also insulated with metal not just plastic. I have left mine in the car with our down south summer heat and come back hours later with cool refreshing ice water. I also keep it by my bed at night and still have ice in it the next morning or even through out the next day. It appears to us that the sipper top, or flip top doesn’t keep the water as cold or ice from melting. Some tops are interchangeable too. Just make sure the top is insulated.

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