The Very Stylish Beach Essentials Checklist

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Because we’ve all arrived at the beach and forgotten something.

A collage of a shirt shorts sandals and towel on a picture of a beach

Photograph: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

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When skies are clear and the weather is hot, wrangling your friends together for a day at the beach is one of the best ways you could spend it. But if you’ve ever been caught up in the swell of excitement and moved a little too quickly, whether to beat the traffic or snag one of the few coveted fire pits, you probably arrived at the glimmering ocean having forgotten a few beach essentials. This is where a checklist comes in handy. Luckily, lists are kind of our thing. And because real life occasionally influences our pitch process—catch me at Rockaway Beach next weekend—I decided to make a beach essentials list for myself and my job. (That’s what work-life balance means, right?) So instead of diverting your precious brain power into the hard science of lists, use this as your handy guide for everything you should bring to the beach.

No, regular shorts will not cut it. You’ll need a pair of proper swim trunks, or, at the very least, some technical shorts that repel water and dry quickly.

Patagonia Baggies 5″ shorts

Orlebar Brown “Bulldog” mid-length jacquard swim shorts

Birdwell Beach Britches nylon board shorts

Bather indigo “Ne-Maki” shibori swim trunks

Assuming you’re going to the beach because it’s actually nice outside, you’ll need some sunglasses. Once you’re fully down to just your trunks, there’s not much else you can wear to get your beach fit off.

Westward Leaning Volt 03 sunglasses


Westward Leaning

Warby Parker “Corwin” sunglasses


Warby Parker

Akila Zed sunglasses

Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses

Hardcore beachgoers will head out in nothing but their bathing suit (or, at designated beaches, their birthday suit). You’d be surprised how cold the beach can get. People seem to forget that it’s generally windier, and if you think you’ll be staying there past sunset, you’ll definitely want something to cut the chill. Camp shirts are the perfect option here.

NN07 “Miyagi” camp-collar garment-dyed linen shirt

Pendleton classic-fit Board shirt

Abercrombie & Fitch lacey button-up shirt



Todd Snyder terry cloth Cabana shirt


Todd Snyder

Your sandy plot is effectively your open-air living room for the day, and everyone’s interior (exterior?) decorating skills are on full display. So it’s imperative to lay out a sick beach towel to let your steez shine whether you’re getting your tan on or catching some waves. Of course, a stylish beach towel should also be able to dry you off and slough off sand easily.

Polo Ralph Lauren Home beach boy polo bear towel


Ralph Lauren

Coyuchi Mediterranean organic towel

Tekla Fabrics beach towel


End. Clothing

Dock & Bay beach towel

Closed toe shoes will trap sand for months. Get yourself a proper pair of sandals—or at least a closed toe shoe with some kind of perforation. And if you’re eager to show off the rare kicks you somehow managed to buy before the bots got them, wear those on through the parking lot and switch into a pair of beach-friendly sandals right after.

Bottega Veneta rubber sandals

Crocs classic Realtree clog

Guanabana sandal


Todd Snyder

Birkenstock Arizona EVA sandal

Beachbound or not, everyone—EVERYONE—should be wearing sunscreen. Make sure you get a broad spectrum option with an SPF of at least 30 and remember to re-apply it every two hours (and after you get out of the water). 

Neutrogena SPF 30 water-resistant sunscreen

Coola SPF 30 fragrance-free mineral sunscreen spray

Dr. Dennis Gross SPF 30 mineral face sunscreen

Bare Republic SPF 30 mineral body sunscreen

An Umbrella

Because you actually can have too much fun in the sun. Avoid sunburns and sun sickness with a shady umbrella or tent.

Sport-Brella Versa-Brella adujstable umbrella

Neso Tents grande beach tent

WolfWise UPF50+ pop up beach tent

Business & Pleasure Co. premium tent

A Chair

Digging your own sand chair is fun. But if you can’t be bothered to build furniture on what is supposed to be a day off, then bring your own chair instead.

Helinox beach chair



Sport-Brella beach chair

Snow Peak low beach chair

Tommy Bahama backpack beach chair

A Beach Bag

A beach bag with proper drainage can help keep sand out of your car and home. Just make sure to pack any tiny belongings in a zippered pouch to avoid losing them.

Noah mesh beach bag

Hoxis mesh beach tote

Joshu + Vela beach tote


Joshu + Vela

F-Color mesh beach bag

A Cooler

You think those loose beers you transported straight from your fridge to the beach will stay cold? Don’t play yourself. Invest in a cooler and keep the bevs and potato salad cold as God intended.

YETI Hopper M30 2.0 Cooler – Hike & Camp



RTIC Soft Cooler 30

Coleman steel-belted cooler

Igloo Maxcold 40-100 qt cooler


Unless you live right next to the beach, it was probably a trek to get there, meaning you’ll probably want to be there for a hefty amount of time. Aside from packing sandwiches, you should probably have something to snack on. Personally, we like Takis. But celery sticks and hummus are cool too, or whatever.

Takis fiesta size chili and lime chips

Bella Cucina Italian antiasti gift set

Earthbound Farms organic vegetable tray

Mike’s Hot Honey gift basket


Beer, wine, soda, good ol’ fashioned water—whatever your bev of choice is, bring it. As they say, “water water everywhere but not a drop to drink”.

No Fine Print Lil Fizz white wine

Punctum 20.000 Leguas orange wine

Recess adaptogen sprakling water

Modelo Especial beer 12-pack


If you can believe it, some folks don’t want to splash around in the water. In-between sunbathing and snacking, there’s gotta be something else to do to pass the time. Tossing around a football, reading a book, playing cards—whatever your jam is, don’t forget to pack it.

Sonos Roam

Adsum recycled frisbee

GQ Magazine

Bounty Hunter 3410001 TK4 Tracker IV metal detector

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