Beach Getaway Essentials: What to Pack for your Beach Vacation

Last year we had a little getaway to the Grand Cayman Islands. It had been a long time since I had had a beach vacation, and didn’t know where to start with packing. Having the right essentials can make all the difference in enhancing your experience. In this guide, we’ve meticulously curated a list of must-have items that will keep you comfortable, protected, and fully equipped for an idyllic seaside adventure. So, grab your sun hat and let’s dive right in!

At LEAST 2-3 Swim Suits

If you plan on spending multiple days at the beach or pool, having extra swimsuits allows you to alternate between them, giving each suit time to fully dry. Nothing is worst than putting on a wet swim suit. YUCK! Also, different swimsuits may cater to various beach activities. You may want a different suit for parasailing or kayaking than you do for relaxing on the beach.

Swim Cover

A swim cover-up can be very versatile, allowing you to easily transition from the beach to other activities, whether you’re grabbing a bite to eat at a beachside café, exploring nearby shops, or simply taking a stroll along the shoreline. It offers protection from the sun, keeping you shielded from harmful UV rays and preventing sunburns.

Beach Sandals

A good pair of slides is critical for the beach. You will want a pair that are waterproof, you can slip on and off easily, and won’t give you blisters. My Adidas slides are almost always my go-to. Tried and true.

2-3 Pairs of Sunglasses

You’re at the beach, of course you’re going to pack sunglasses. But having multiple pairs provides a backup plan in case a pair gets lost, stolen, or broken. When we were paddle boarding in the Caymans, my partner fell off his paddle board, and there went his sunglasses! Nowhere to be found. They are now somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. Luckily, he had a backup pair for the rest of the trip.

Beach Bag

A big, waterproof beach bag is essential for carrying all your beach-day necessities. Look for a bag with multiple compartments for…well, everything else on this list. Choose a bag that can withstand sand, water, and sun exposure.

Sun Hat

I love a sun hat to protect my scalp, face, and neck from the sun on those extra hot days. Not only is a sunhat functional, but it can also complete your beach look.

Magnetic Hat Clip

Worried about your sun hat being carried away by a gust of wind? Invest in a sun hat magnet, a clever accessory that ensures your hat stays firmly in place, even on windy beach days. These effective little magnets offer a secure fit, allowing you to enjoy beach activities without constantly readjusting your hat.

Turkish Beach Towel

Turkish beach towels have gained popularity in the last few years, for good reason! Turkish beach towels are thin and lightweight, sand does not stick to them, they dry very quickly, and they can even be worn as a sarong in addition to its beach towel duties.

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Basking under the sun is undoubtedly one of the highlights of any beach getaway, but it’s crucial to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Opt for a reef-safe sunscreen, which is free from oxybenzone and octinoxate, to ensure you’re doing your part to preserve the delicate marine ecosystem. Look for broad-spectrum protection with a high SPF rating to shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

Aloe Vera

Despite our best efforts, sunburns can happen. That’s where aloe vera comes to the rescue. Packed with natural cooling properties, aloe vera gel is an excellent remedy that will help heal and hydrate your skin after a day under the sun.

Scalp and Hair SPF Mist

This was one of my FAVORITE things I found for my trip because my scalp always gets sun burnt if I’m not wearing my sun hat. The Sun Bum Hair and Scalp Spray offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, shielding your scalp and hair from the damaging effects of the sun. It is also oil-free, water-resistant, and reef friendly.

Reef-Safe Bug Spray

Even the most luxurious beaches in the world have pesky insects that can rattle your relaxation. Bringing reef-safe bug spray is not only crucial for your personal comfort but also for the well-being of the delicate marine ecosystem around you. Traditional bug sprays often contain chemicals like DEET, which can be harmful to reefs and aquatic organisms. By opting for reef-safe bug spray, you can protect yourself from bothersome bug bites while ensuring that your beach vacation leaves a minimal ecological footprint.

The Bug Bite Thing

For the same reason you bring sunscreen AND aloe, you should bring bug spray AND The Bug Bite Thing. Nothing is full proof, so always have a backup! The Bug Bite Thing is one of my FAVORITE things as someone who seems to attract mosquitos. With its simple suction mechanism, it provides instant relief by removing insect saliva or venom from the skin. It helps alleviate itching and swelling (like it was never there), allowing you to enjoy your time by the shore without itching your bug bites.


There is not a chance I’m bringing my DSLR to the beach. The water? The sand?? Absolutely not. This is where my GoPro comes in. These compact, durable, waterproof cameras are perfect for capturing stunning underwater shots, or any of your beach activities. I took burst photos, 4k videos, and time lapses throughout our trip.

gopro grand cayman waters


Or just a Waterproof Camera

If you don’t want to splurge for a GoPro, bring some type of waterproof camera. Disposable waterproof cameras are a nostalgic and convenient option for capturing unforgettable moments in and around the water. These compact cameras are designed to withstand water exposure, allowing you to snap photos while in or under the water. You don’t have to worry about damaging your expensive equipment or fumbling with complex settings. Simply point, click, and let the camera do the rest.

Floating Wrist Strap

When you’re out in the water, the last thing you want is to accidentally drop your phone or GoPro and watch them sink into the depths. Invest in a floating wrist strap that attaches securely to your device, ensuring it stays afloat in case of an accidental slip. This handy accessory provides peace of mind, allowing you to focus on enjoying your beach activities without worry.

Waterproof Phone Pouch

Sand, water, and electronics don’t usually mix well. To protect your phone or other valuables from water damage and pesky grains of sand, consider using a waterproof phone pouch. These transparent, airtight bags not only keep your device safe but also allow you to take stunning underwater photos or videos.

Hand Fan

As the sun beats down on the beach, a portable fan can be a lifesaver, providing a refreshing breeze whenever you need it. Opt for a compact fan that easily fits into your beach bag.

Waterproof Bandaids

Whether it’s protecting a blister from rubbing against your sandals or covering a small scrape from beach adventures, having waterproof bandaids ensures that minor injuries won’t dampen your fun in the sun. Waterproof bandaids provide a protective barrier that keeps water, sand, and dirt away from the wound. They stay on much better than regular bandaids through water, sunscreen, and sweat.

Retractable Cable Lock

One thing I couldn’t figure out was what to do with my beach bag when we were both in the ocean. You can’t just leave it, can you? So I bought this retractable cable lock so I could secure my beach bag to a beach chair whenever we were in the water. It gave me peace of mind to know nobody could walk off with my bag.

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As you shop and pack for your beach getaway, make sure to pack these essential items that will elevate your experience. After all, if you come prepared, you can spend more time enjoying yourself.

Check out my Amazon list of beach essentials here!

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31 thoughts on “Beach Getaway Essentials: What to Pack for your Beach Vacation

  1. My friend and I were talking yesterday about whatever happened to the waterproof cameras! Love the Magnetic Hat Clip. I’ve never heard of that before. It seems like a real problem-solver! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great picks! I need to look into getting one of those hat clips — I’ve unfortunately had my hat fly away from me more than once! (Thankfully have been able to recover it though!) Those waterproof phone pouches = absolutely essential!!

  3. It is a great tip to take several bathing suits for a beach vacation. Nothing worse than putting on a cold, wet suit! Having lost sunglasses in the water more than once I always now pack at least one extra pair. And despite using a packing list we seem to always forget Aloe and keep buying more. A good checklist!

  4. I’m a big believer in aloe vera gels for after the day’s sun and sunburn. They can really save the holiday.

  5. These are all such great recommendations! I love the Bug Bite Thing and the waterproof phone pouches really work! Plus, the photos you get with them aren’t too shabby.

  6. Great list with plenty of useful items needed for a beach holiday. Having fair skin sunscreen and a hat are my best beach holiday friends!

  7. I liked how you stressed “reef-safe” in sunscreen and bug spray. I promote sustainable travel and use only mineral sunscreens, even though they are thick and gooey. I am definitely going to look up SPF mists on Amazon for my scalp and hair.

    1. Of course! We can’t have tourists destroying the reefs! Especially when reef-safe products are more available than ever.

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