If the packing list for your beach vacation feels like an impossible task, you came to the right place.
Most people hate packing, and for all different reasons. However, I believe the main reason most people hate packing is because they don’t know where to start.
Looking at an empty suitcase or backpack with just details like the destination, weather and length of your trip as guidance will send you into a tailspin. You end up tearing your closet a part and filling your bag with way more clothes than you need (or your bag will fit).
Fortunately, this packing list for beach vacation makes packing WAY easier by literally telling you what you need to bring—and it’s all based on experience. I’ve taken 10+ beach vacations with just a carry-on bag and never gone without something I need.
Alright, now let’s get your packing done so you’re one step closer to crystal-blue water, swaying palm trees and endless vitamin D. You’ll be laying on the beach with a margarita in hand before you know it!
Why This Packing List for Beach Vacation?
This beach vacation packing list is ideal for travelers who like to keep things simple and stress free, and are flying to their beach vacation destination, not driving there.
Thinking about the packing for your beach vacation is a lot more stressful than actually packing, which is why I’m going to break it down as simply as possible in this post. To make this really easy we’re going to break your beach vacation packing list up into six groups: clothing, toiletries, electronics, documents, accessories and miscellaneous.
I focus on packing to maximize your relaxation and ability to stay present, and enjoy the outdoors rather than packing “just in case” items, extra outfits and all kinds of items that don’t contribute to your enjoyment on the beach!
Think of this packing list like a challenge. Decide that you’re only going to pack what it says and packing becomes as easy as following instructions! You just have to get creative with choosing outfits you can rewear or mix and match.
Which Luggage Do I Bring for a Beach Vacation?
A beach vacation is the perfect time to wear minimal clothing and not worry about what you’re wearing, so do yourself a favor and skip packing a full-size suitcase that you’ll need to check. You’ll risk the flight losing your luggage and end up lugging around a lot of weight you don’t need. After all, if you can’t be carefree on vacation, when can you be?
Aim for a carry-on bag or a carry-on and personal item.
If you’re heading right from the airport to a resort, I recommend a carry-on size rolling suitcase and a stylish beach bag for your personal item.
If you’re on more of a custom, adventurous beach vacation, I recommend a carry-on size backpack and a stylish beach bag for your personal item.
Also, bring a small cross-body purse for when you’re out and about in your destination. You can just wear it during transit or stick it in your personal item beach tote if you bring one. And don’t forget to use packing cubes to organize your suitcase or backpack! They make it so easy to stay tidy in your hotel room and make packing way easier.
Clothing to Pack
- 2 Swimsuits – That way you always have a dry one to wear.
- 1-2 Pair of Underwear per day – One for morning and one for night or one per day if you plan on doing laundry on vacation.
- 2-3 Bras – One or two bras that will work with your outfits and one sports bra if you’ll be working out, hiking or doing other sports activities.
- 3 Pair Shorts – One jean, one linen or dressy pair, one exercise.
- 4-5 Tops – When choosing which tops to bring, make sure they go well with your shorts and work with the bras you bring.
- 2 Dresses – One nicer dress for dinner and one dress for daytime exploring. Bonus if you’re dress is neutral and can be restyled for multiple wears!
- 1 Beach Cover Up – Try a thin dress or sarong that’s easy to pack but dressy enough for lunch. Sarongs are so versatile! You can wear it as a dress or skirt, use it as a scarf or shawl and you can even lay on it like a towel.
- 2-3 Pair Shoes – One pair pretty sandals, one pair of comfortable walking sandals and one pair of tennis shoes. If you bring tennis shoes wear those during transit to save room in your luggage.
- Rashguard – I always bring a rashguard or SPF sun shirt to beach destinations because I hate wearing sunscreen and I never have to worry about reapplying.
Toiletries to Pack
- Sunscreen – Make sure it’s reef safe! Especially if you plan activities like swimming with whale sharks or scuba diving. I prefer zinc sunscreens with none of the toxic chemicals that can cause skin irritation and harm the environment.
- Face Wash – Your accommodations likely have shampoo, conditioner and body wash but it’s nice to have your own face wash, especially if you have sensitive skin like me!
- Body oil or lotion – Perfect for keeping your skin hydrating and moisturizing sunburnt skin.
- Makeup – Pack as minimal makeup as possible. It saves space in your toiletry bag and you’re likely only going to wear makeup in the evenings. You can rock a beachy, light makeup look for dinners and, of course, your tan!
- Hair Ties and Clips
- Supplements or Medication
- Pain relievers, Stool softeners or Imodium
- Tampons or Diva Cup
Electronics to Pack
- Kindle – Is a beach vacation even a beach vacation without a good book?! Getting a Kindle was a game changer for my travels! It’s so much more packable than even a thin book and allows me to read as many books as I want without compromising packing space.
- Phone Charger
- Headphones – Perfect for zoning out on your flight. Don’t forget to download songs, podcasts or Netflix episodes so you can watch/listen without WiFi!
- Camera (charger, memory card, batteries) –
- Hair Straightener – Only if you need it. Remember, you’re going to have salty beach hair to work with!
- Outlet Converters or Adapters – If you’re going to a country with different outlets, definitely pick up a few adapters so you can use all your electronics.
Documents & Money
- Driver’s License
- Immunization Records (if applicable)
- Flight Itinerary
- Hotel Details & Address
- Diving Certification Cards
- 2 Credit Cards – Once you arrive, keep one in your wallet and one in your suitcase or room safe.
- Local Currency – Not everywhere takes credit cards widely, so I like to get ~$200 local currency before leaving for my trip from a currency exchange with fair rates. It’s helpful if you need to take a last minute taxi or something that requires cash or tipping. Alternatively, you can take out money at the ATM at the airport on arrival. That way you just pay the ATM fees. DO NOT use just any currency exchange or even the airport one because they charge exorbitant rates.
- Jewelry – Keep it simple and limit yourself to 3-4 items of jewelry that go with everything and are not valuable in case they got lost or damaged.
- Compact Beach Bag – If you’re not bringing a beach tote for your personal item, bring a compact beach bag. Something lightweight or mesh that you can fold up into nothing and pack in your main luggage bag.
- Hat – Baseball cap or sunhat.
Miscellaneous to Pack
- Mask, Snorkel – I only recommend packing these if you are a regular diver and have your own set you’re used to using. (AKA me!)
- Reusable Water Bottle – I’d only bring this if you’re staying somewhere that won’t provide water like your own hotel room/airbnb vs. an all-inclusive resort. Then you can buy big jugs for your room and just fill your bottle as needed.
- Travel Lock – I only recommend bringing this if you’re staying in a hostel.
- Portable Speaker
Skip These Items in Your Packing List for Beach Vacation
Since you’re flying to your destination, you don’t have space to bring these beach vacation items. I promise, if you’re staying at any kind of hotel or resort (even a hostel), they’ll have these items for you or you can buy them locally.
- Beach Towels
- Beach Umbrella
- Beach Chairs
- Beach Blanket
- Beach Toys
- Snorkel Gear
Best Beach Vacation Spot
Still in the dreaming phase? Here are my favorite beach vacation spots across the world for you to consider!
Siesta Key Beach, Florida – Perfect for families and couples. It’s just an hour from Tampa airport and it’s famous for the pure white sand that’s 99% quartz.
Cabarete, Dominican Republic – Perfect for adrenaline junkies. You can kite board, surf and scuba dive all in the immediate area and the beaches are stunning.
Playa del Carmen & Tulum, Mexico – Perfect for solo travelers, couples and foodies who enjoy nature and serious boho aesthetics.
Kabak Koyu, Turkey – Perfect for adventurers willing to drive along steep cliffs to reach a stunning beach with insanely blue water. (Psst, this spot is extremely close to Greece so think Greece-like water in Turkey!)
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica – Perfect for surfers, nature lovers and yogis who are looking to rest and relax in nature.
Bondi Beach, Australia – Perfect for surfers, foodies and anyone dying to explore Sydney and surrounding parts of Australia.