The 14 Best Beach Accessories for Hitting the Sand

Knockaround Sunglasses and Wonderboom 2 speakers are among our must-haves.

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Best Beach Essentials
Courtesy of Amazon, Williams Sonoma, and Sunday Supply

Whether you're planning an oceanside vacation, weekend getaway at the coast, or just a day trip to the beach, there are a few things you'll definitely want to have on hand. Aside from a flattering swimsuit, what should you pack?

We rounded up must-haves for drying off, staying cool, and preventing sunburn, along with some nice-to-haves that'll make your time on the sand all the more enjoyable.

Knockaround Sunglasses, for one, offer a polarized view of the tide and look good on pretty much everyone. Then there's the Wonderboom 2. Perfect for playing your favorite tunes while soaking up the sun, this waterproof Bluetooth speaker delivers crisp, 360-degree sound.

From shades and sunscreen to gadgets and lounging essentials, you'll find all the best beach accessories here.

Best Beach Towel

Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton Beach Towel

Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton Beach Towel


Why We Love It: This sizable towel is plush, soft, and quick-drying — and the classic stripes offer an undeniably beachy vibe.

What to Consider: It's pretty big, so make sure you have a large enough bag to carry it.

Made of 94 percent combed cotton and 6 percent bamboo fiber, this extra-thick beach towel is not only incredibly plush and soft but also breathable and quick-drying. The striped pattern is stylish yet timeless, and you can choose from a few colors, including gray, blue, and orange. It's also machine-washable and promises not to fade in the sun.

At 72 x 40 inches, the oversized design is perfect for stretching out on the sand or wrapping up when the chilly ocean breeze hits. Since it's on the larger side for a beach towel, make sure you have plenty of room in your tote — especially if you're bringing more than one.

Best E-reader

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2018

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2018


Why We Love It: This ultra-light and packable e-reader is waterproof and glare-free, allowing you to read in direct sunlight.

What to Consider: The ad-supported option shows sponsored content on the lock screen.

Who needs a paperback when you have a Paperwhite? The lightest, thinnest edition of the Kindle is waterproof and glare-free. Since it's not backlit like a smartphone or traditional tablet, it looks just like real pages, so you can devour a juicy beach read, even in the brightest sunlight.

Books can be downloaded before you head out and read on the beach without a Wi-Fi connection, and the battery lasts up to six weeks. What's more, you can choose things like font style, font size, and whether it displays your current page or progress in the book. This version of the e-reader comes in a few color options, including black, sage, blue, and mauve.

Best Waterproof Speaker

ULTIMATE EARS WONDERBOOM 2, Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Bluetooth Speaker


Why We Love It: This floating speaker is waterproof and sand-proof with stereo-quality sound.

What to Consider: Though it stands up to most outdoor elements, it doesn't come with a case.

Barely 4 inches tall and weighing less than a pound with a 13-hour battery life, the Wonderboom 2 is the ultimate portable Bluetooth speaker. But what makes it ideal for the beach is its waterproof, floatable, and dustproof — or in this case, sand-proof — design and 360-degree bass that sounds surprisingly crisp outdoors.

This modern mini boombox also has some shock protection. In other words, you can drop it on the hard ground without it breaking. Though the Wonderboom doesn't come with a carrying case, you can have peace of mind knowing it won't get ruined on a trip to the beach.

Best Cooler

Orca Walker Tote

Orca Walker Tote

Courtesy of Orca

Why We Love It: It holds 18 cans and can keep up to 20 pounds of ice cold for 24 hours.

What to Consider: The price is pretty steep for a cooler.

We're also loving the Orca Walker Tote. Despite its compact size (roughly 15 x 15 x 10 inches), this soft-sided, water-resistant cooler can hold about 18 drink cans, multiple bottles of rosé, chilled lunch, or up to 20 pounds of ice. Not only that, but it keeps things cold for a full 24 hours and is easy to carry, thanks to the padded shoulder strap.

The bottom is coated with a "tough skin" material for extra durability on rocks, sand, or wet grounds. Available in several versatile colors, the Walker Tote is priced somewhat steep for a cooler of its size, but you can count on it to last.

Best Umbrella

Williams Sonoma Ventura Portable Beach Umbrella

Williams Sonoma Ventura Portable Beach Umbrella

Williams Sonoma

Why We Love It: This extra-wide, tiltable umbrella offers portable shade and a stylish aesthetic.

What to Consider: It weighs 5 pounds, but the included carrying bag makes it easy to tote around.

Reminiscent of the coastal-chic beach aesthetic of mid-century France, this striped umbrella is just the thing for your next oceanside excursion. It's nearly 6 feet wide and 7 feet tall with a tiltable canopy.

The sturdy steel pole is pointed at the bottom and sticks effortlessly into the sand. You can also stake it into grass if you ever find yourself needing shade on a picnic. While it provides shade and some sun protection, UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) isn't specified, so don't skip the sunscreen.

Best Canopy

Neso Grande Beach Tent

Beach Tent


Why We Love It: It offers UPF 50+ sun protection and shade for up to seven people.

What to Consider: You may want to get two additional poles for the back to make it tall enough to stand under.

For a little more coverage, consider the Neso Grande. Measuring roughly 9 x 9 feet, this canopy-style beach tent can provide shade for up to seven people. The stretchy yet sturdy material is water-resistant with UPF 50+ sun protection, and an included carrying bag makes it all the more packable and portable.

This beach shade comes with four anchor bags, which you fill with rocks or sand to weigh the canopy down. You'll get two aluminum poles to pitch the top, but if you want to be able to stand up underneath it, you might consider ordering an additional pair.

Best Beach Blanket

Business & Pleasure Co. Beach Blanket

Business & Pleasure Co. Beach Blanket


Why We Love It: It's quick-drying and machine-washable with a hole in the middle for an umbrella pole.

What to Consider: The center hole makes it less versatile, but it's nice to have a designated beach blanket.

You're also wise to bring a blanket to lie on, like this beauty from Business & Pleasure Co. Made of 100 percent cotton, it's soft, breathable, and quick-drying but also durable enough for outdoor use. This sizable throw rolls up compactly and comes with a carrying strap for easy-peasy transport.

There's a hole in the middle where you can stick your umbrella to prevent it from blowing away. Though the hole makes it less versatile overall, frequent beach-goers may appreciate having a designated blanket for the sand. We also like that it's machine-washable and dryer-friendly.

Best Beach Chair

Sunday Supply Co. Natural Instinct Beach Chair

Sunday Supply Co. Natural Instinct Beach Chair

Sunday Supply Co.

Why We Love It: This low-profile seat has comfy, water-resistant cushions and a removable carrying strap.

What to Consider: These chairs weigh just under 6 pounds each, so keep this in mind if you have to walk a long distance to the beach.

Complete your seaside lounging setup with a couple of beach chairs. This thoughtfully designed seat from Sunday Supply Co. features a comfy low-profile with upholstered cushions that resist water damage, sun-fading, and tearing.

You can also take off the covers and toss them in the wash. There's a handy storage pocket on the back, and a removable carrying strap makes it easy to sling the chair over your shoulder. One thing to note is that these chairs weigh nearly 6 pounds each. Keep this in mind if you're carrying more than one or have a long walk down to the beach.

Best Sunglasses

Knockaround Premiums Polarized Sunglasses

Knockaround Premiums Polarized Sunglasses

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: Available in myriad colors, these unisex shades are lightweight, durable, and universally flattering.

What to Consider: The lenses aren't scratch-resistant.

Sunglasses are one thing you definitely don't want to forget when packing for the beach. Knockarounds are sporty yet stylish with mirrored, polarized lenses and a lightweight, durable, wear-anywhere design. Rubber nose pads keep them securely on your face, and an included protective pouch prevents them from crushing in your bag.

We appreciate that the unisex frames fit and flatter most head shapes and sizes, and if you break or lose them, it won't put a huge dent in your wallet. They come in tons of colors, too. We're talking neutrals like black and gray, neons, tortoiseshell, and everything in between.

Best Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Activewear Lotion Sport Sunscreen


La Roche-Posay

Why We Love It: The reef-safe formula is water-resistant for 80 minutes and doesn't leave a white cast.

What to Consider: Since it doesn't offer mineral protection, be sure to apply it 15 minutes before sun exposure.

This SPF 60 sunscreen can be applied to your body or face, and the dry-touch texture won't leave a white cast. Free of fragrance and oil, the gentle yet effective lotion is suitable for all skin types (including the sensitive set) and even kids.

The Activewear Sport formula is also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes of splashing in the tide or sweating in the sun. And since it's formulated without oxybenzone, it's also reef-safe. Just a heads up — this sunscreen doesn't contain mineral protection, so you'll want to slather it on about 15 minutes before heading into the sun.

Best Waterproof Phone Case

CaliCase Universal Waterproof Floating Case Pouch

Waterproof Floating Case Pouch


Why We Love It: This smartphone pouch offers two layers of waterproof protection and floats in the ocean.

What to Consider: Pictures taken through the plastic might not be the clearest.

You know how to safeguard your skin from the sun, but how do you protect your smartphone from the oceanside elements? Enter: the CaliCase. Not only does this pouch offer two layers of waterproof protection, but it also floats and glows in the dark.

We also like that the attached lanyard frees up your hands while swimming. You can still use the touchscreen through the plastic, though your pictures may not come out the clearest. Available in several colors and trendy prints, the universal size fits smartphones up to 6 inches in height.

Best Beach Bag

QOGiR Neoprene Multipurpose Beach Bag Tote with Inner Zipper Pocket

QOGiR Neoprene Multipurpose Beach Bag Tote


Why We Love It: Available in 24 chic designs, this carry-all is not only spacious but also packable and water-resistant.

What to Consider: The top closes with one magnetic snap, not a full zipper.

Say hello to your new favorite tote. Made of neoprene with a nylon interior, this carry-all bag is durable, foldable, packable, water-resistant, and even machine-washable. It comes in two sizes (14 x 12.5 x 10 inches or 17 x 13 x 11 inches) and has a large main compartment, plus multiple pockets for organizing all your beach accessories and essentials.

Instead of a full zipper on the top, a simple magnetic snap closure allows for easy access, and a removable bottom board helps it stand upright. Available in 24 designs ranging from neutrals and statement hues to colorblock and camo, there's something for everyone.

Best Beach Sandals

Birkenstock Unisex Arizona Essentials EVA

Birkenstock Birkenstock Unisex Arizona Essentials EVA Sandals


Why We Love It: These flexible, waterproof sandals are available in unisex sizes and 35 different colors.

What to Consider: Since they don't have ankle straps, these slides aren't ideal for swimming.

The timeless slides we all know and love, but make them waterproof. Instead of leather and cork, these Birkenstock sandals are made of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), a molded waterproof material that's soft and flexible yet durable and crack-resistant.

Like the classic Birkenstock Arizona slides, these have two wide buckle straps over the forefeet, which you can tighten or loosen to accommodate your foot size. From black and blush to cobalt and copper, the unisex design is available in 35 colors, so there's something for everyone.

Best Water Shoes

VIFUUR Water Sports Shoes

VIFUUR Water Sports Shoes


Why We Love It: With flexible rubber soles and stretchy uppers, these aqua socks safeguard your feet from reefs and rocks.

What to Consider: The soles wear out somewhat quickly, but they're still a great deal for the price.

Aqua socks might not be the most fashionable thing you can wear to the beach, but if you're planning on doing any swimming, they're the name of the game. We like Vifuur Water Shoes, which have flexible rubber soles and thick, stretchy uppers to protect your entire foot from coral reefs, rocks, glass, and anything else that could scratch you underwater.

The four-way stretch material makes them easy to get on and ensures a snug fit while you're swimming in the ocean or walking along the tide. They're also easy to take off and dry quickly in the sun.

Tips for Buying Beach Accessories and Essentials

Prioritize sun protection

First and foremost, prioritize sun protection. Beyond the obvious sunglasses and sunscreen, consider getting a wide-brimmed hat, a loose-fitting cover-up, an umbrella, and potentially a canopy. When buying garments or shade for the beach, look for products with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating of at least 30 — even better if it's 50.

Think compact and portable

When browsing beach accessories, look for items light enough to carry at least a quarter-mile on the sand. Ideally, they'll also be rollable or foldable, potentially with their own carrying case and a strap to sling over your shoulder. Whether you're traveling by car or plane, make sure everything can be packed up as needed.

Consider water and sand resistance

The best beach essentials won't be ruined if they get wet or sandy. Whether it's sandals, sunglasses, an e-reader, or a Bluetooth speaker, everything you bring should be water-resistant, if not entirely waterproof. You should also be able to easily shake out sand and other debris from towels, blankets, cloth totes, and canopies. Ideally, anything made of fabric will be machine-washable as well.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure writers are trip-planning and recreation experts who know how to find the most portable, packable, functional, and stylish products for all types of vacations. For this story, Theresa Holland researched dozens of products for beach-goers, carefully evaluating each item, then narrowing it down to a tasteful, curated list of must-haves and nice-to-haves.

Up Next: The 15 Best Beach Games

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