Beach tote, bluetooth speaker, and sunscreen

15 Items T+L Editors Always Bring to the Beach

You'll want to pack your beach bag full of these essentials.
By Madeline Diamond
June 25, 2021
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Now that summer is finally here, it's time to gather your beach towel, sunscreen, a good book and hit the beach. And whether the ocean is in your backyard or you're planning a long-awaited seaside getaway, you'll want to make sure your beach bag is full of items that will make your beach day as fun and seamless as possible. That's why we asked Travel + Leisure editors about their beach must-haves, and their answers did not disappoint. From a functional yet affordable beach tent that will provide a respite from the sun to flattering, stylish swimwear, these are some of this season's beach essentials you won't want to miss.

Keep reading for our travel editors' favorite beach day essentials, from skincare to waterproof speakers.

Sangra de Fruta Neroli Forever Botanical Tonic

Black bottle of skincare product
Credit: Courtesy of Sangre De Fruta

"I love to throw a face mist in my beach bag for an instant pick-me-up on a hot summer day. Sangra de Fruta is a wonderful small, organic beauty brand based in British Colombia. The ingredients are pure and fresh — this tonic has a heady, citrus scent that is both transportive and refreshing," — Jacqui Gifford, Editor in Chief

To buy: sangredefruta.com, $58

Summersalt Sidestroke Swimsuit & Smocked Maxi Dress

Woman wearing navy swimsuit and white and blue striped maxi dress
Credit: Courtesy of Summersalt

"I'm a Summersalt loyalist for many reasons, but when it comes to their swimsuits, it's because mainly because of how well-cut and confidence-boosting the styles are. I'm partial to the navy Sidestroke and black Perfect-wrap one-pieces, but the recent tie-dye collaboration with Sara Foster would be fun for someone who's more trend-forward. The Beach-to-brunch Wrap Skirt is so easy to throw on as a cover-up, but this year, I'm swapping it out for the new Smocked Maxi Dress," — Sarah Bruning, Senior Editor

To buy: The Sidestroke One-piece, summersalt.com, $95; The Smocked Maxi Dress, summersalt.com, $135

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker

Black mini round bluetooth speaker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

"To maximize your beach day, you need the right soundtrack, and streaming Spotify off your phone speaker is not going to cut it. I adore this Wonderboom speaker — it's truly waterproof, is small enough to fit neatly in a tote (but can also attach to a backpack, because it has a handy loop), will last a full day on one USB-charge (in fact, I stream music 3-4 hours a day while working from home, and charge it maybe once a week) and, most importantly, projects quality sound that will cocoon you and your friends in beach day bliss. I've had it for three years and it's held up on dozens of rooftop hangouts, park picnics, cabin trips, lake days, etc. Buy it and never again be stuck listening to the dulcet tones of dubstep coming from three towels over," — Liz Cantrell, Associate Editor

To buy: amazon.com, $80

Youswim Swimwear

Women wearing red and lime green one piece swimsuits
Credit: Courtesy of Youswim

"Do you have a body? Do you go to the beach? Guess what: you have a bangin' beach body. Swimwear brands are thinking about how to be more size-inclusive, thank goodness, and the U.K.-based Youswim is one of my recent faves. The suits are super cute, but the kicker is in the material: a specially-woven nylon fabric, manufactured sustainably in the U.K., that can stretch impressively without going see-through. All styles come in just one size that comfortably fits U.S. sizes 2–14, and the brand is actively working on expanding their size range," — Hannah Walhout, Associate Editor

To buy: youswim.com, $147

Ikea Sommarvind Pop-up Sun/Wind Shelter

Blue beach tent
Credit: Courtesy of Ikea

"Traveling to the beach with kids can be a blast but if you don't have a place to hide from the sun, it can be a pretty short stay. Ikea's beach pop-up tent has been a lifesaver for me with my three kids. The tent fold up into a small tote that's easy to swing over your shoulder with all of the other toys, bags, and snacks you'll also inevitably be carrying. The tent features small pockets surrounding the base of the tent that you fill with sand so it won't blow away with a strong gust of wind. It's large enough to fit three kids and one adult comfortably and it's pretty easy to collapse and store away once it's time to head home. And the best part yet, it's only $25," — Sean Flynn, City Guide/Luxury Editor

To buy: ikea.com, $25

Scout BJ Bag

Navy and white striped beach bag
Credit: Courtesy of Scout Bags

"The right tote makes the whole day easier, and I swear by this stands-up-to-anything bag. Made of sturdy, sand- and surf-proof fabric, it's got plenty of pockets, including a zippered interior stash for keeping your phone safely out of the way. And while that cartoony dachshund logo may not be functional, it sure is cute," — Paul Brady, Articles Editor

To buy: scoutbags.com, $56

Sanuk Yoga Mat Flip Flops

White and black flip flops
Credit: Courtesy of Zappos

"I'm a firm believer in having the right beach footwear. My beach days usually include a long walk into town or a trek to find the perfect stretch of sand, so plastic flip-flops just don't cut it. I swear by these affordable, well-made Sanuk flip-flops. They're made out of yoga mat material and are perfectly soft while also being super supportive," — Maya Kachroo-Levine, Contributing Digital Editor

To buy: zappos.com, $30

Short Story Collections

Three book covers
Credit: Courtesy of Bookshop

"My ocean-side attention span is significantly shorter than my everyday one, so I love packing short story collections for my beach reading. I can read, swim, read, nap, and repeat, while still getting the satisfaction of having finished a story instead of just a chapter. My copy of 'The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald' has accompanied me on many a beach trip since college, and its pages are (delightfully) water stained and full of sand. I'm looking forward to breaking in Danielle Evans' 'The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories,' and Jenny Zhang's 'Sour Heart: Stories' this summer," — Skye Senterfeit, Photo Editor

To buy: (from left) bookshop.org, $22; bookshop.org, $25; bookshop.org, $16

Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard

inflatable stand up paddle boards
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

"Paddle boarding is one of my favorite beach — and marina, lake, and canal — activities, and as a member of my local paddle board club, I've tried out a ton. If money and weight were no object, I wouldn't choose an inflatable board, but the truth is, an inflatable is more practical and far cheaper than a real one, and works almost as well, so unless you're a super serious paddle boarder, it's the way to go. T+L readers love Roc's inflatable board, and I agree... it's durable, easy to balance on, and comes with a paddle, leash, hand pump, and waterproof bag so you're all set for one affordable price," — Nina Ruggiero, Deputy Digital Editor

To buy: amazon.com, $376

Rothy's The Rope Tote

Blue knit tote
Credit: Courtesy of Rothy's

"A good tote is a summer staple and key to any chic and effortless beach look, and Rothy's is my go-to for when fashion meets sustainability. What's better than having a beach tote made out of ocean-bound marine plastic and handles made of 100 percent recycled materials? The Rope Tote comes in the cool ocean blue color of Indigo Cloud, or one more resembling the sandy shores in Swan White. The incredibly spacious interior has a drawstring closure and zipped pocket to keep all your beachy essential out of the sun and sand-free. Both would match perfectly with the brand's Wrap Sandal to complete your warm weather wardrobe," — Alessanda Amodio, Digital Photo Editor

To buy: rothys.com, $275

Sunscreen

two different sunscreens
Credit: Courtesy of Retailers as Credited

"Despite growing up in southern California and spending plenty of my life on the beach, I'm still always on the hunt for the best sunscreen to help me avoid burning. This year, I've started using two new sunscreens for face and body that are lightweight and comfortable on the skin, but still provide plenty of protection from UV rays. Dr. Brandt's Liquid Sun Shield applies like a serum and blends into my skin so smoothly, making it great for all day wear, while Supergoop's Play Sunscreen for body is non-greasy and long-lasting, whether I'm simply running errands or spending all day at the beach," — Madeline Diamond, Associate Digital Editor

To buy: (from left) sephora.com, $65; amazon.com, $32

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