My absolute favorite packing list is for a beach vacation! Those are the most relaxing vacations I have been to. I look forward to lounging by the pool, catching waves, drinking tropical cocktails and spending time with my family in water activities.
After many years of packing for my little family, I am here to share with you our packing list that will make your life so much easier and ensure your beach vacation goes without a hitch. Let’s walk through some recommendations and considerations for your trip and family size shall we?
Clothing & Accessories
Our main outfits on our beach vacation packing list are our swimsuits. I pack one per day of my stay for myself, my sons and my wife. I gravitate to modern one pieces with bra shelves like these. And for my sons I try to get them sets with long sleeve swim shirts to not worry about the sun exposure on their upper bodies.
Light fabric swim cover up’s are a must whether you are walking from your hotel room to the beach or traveling from your house rental to the beach. You don’t want to take regular heavy clothes to just need to take them off once you arrive. Cover ups allow you to be discreet and comfortable from when you leave your room/house to the ocean.
For these I don’t necessarily take one per day like my swimsuits. Instead I invest in solid colors that match multiple, that way for a week vacation I just take three. Think of what swimwear you have now, what you plan on getting first then grab your cover ups.
Pajamas & a light sweater
The number of pj’s you’ll take will depend the length of your stay of course. For a week vacation you’ll want to take at least 3. You’ll also want to bring a light sweater in case it rains and the temperatures drop. I think it’s very common in islands to see some rain and it can get a bit chilly early morning or late evening.
Even if you don’t intend to go anywhere formal, always pack a nice dress for dinner. I know some nights you’ll be exhausted from all the fun in the sun and just want to get room service but you also want to be prepared if you change your mind and decide to dine out.
“Regular” casual outfit
Perhaps you want to head to local shops for souvenirs. Or perhaps you want to explore the city or island. It’s always best to pack an outfit you can wear for these types of occasions such as a sun dress or shorts and a blouse.
Consider the weather
When it comes to clothes, not all are created equal in hot climates. When we went to the Cayman Islands for example, it was so humid, our clothes were drenched by the end of our excursion. I learned what fabrics to stick to, no pun intended, and which to avoid.
Pack cotton for that day outfit and very thin, non silk fabrics. Think if it gets wet with sweat, how much will it stick to my clothes? Jean shorts are okay but not ideal in extremely humid places you aren’t accustomed to.
Shoes and other footwear
Sandals and many of them! Bring at least one pair that are okay to get wet and sand on. Pro tip just because they are made of rubber like material does not mean they are a great choice.
On our trip to Maui, I purchased one for every outfit I am afraid of. It was a waste of money. They were very uncomfortable and caused blisters. In addition to one for the water also bring a pair of sandals for that shopping trip and perhaps a nice heel or dress shoes for that nice dinner we spoke about earlier.
Consider bringing water shoes depending on your destination. When we went to the Amalfi Coast, he beaches were more filled with small rocks and little sand therefore in order to play around comfortably, my son had to wear water shoes.
Lastly, will you be going on a hike or working out during your trip? Bring a pair of sneakers or hiking boots appropriate for the occasion. You want to think about what activities you will be doing to pack accordingly.
Regarding clothing accessories, jewelry you want to keep to a minimum. Just a nice pair of earrings for dinner will suffice. It is very unlikely you’ll need it for any other water activity and you want to avoid your accessories getting lost or damaged.
I highly recommend you pack hats. Not only will this complete your outfit but it will protect your face from the sun. I prefer big floppy hats. My sons love bucket hats and my wife sticks to baseball caps.
This is very much a personal preference. I don’t tend to wear sunglasses but my wife won’t go on vacation without them. I will admit however that I have borrowed hers on more than one occasion so perhaps I need to reconsider, ha!
Toiletries & Essentials
Here you will pack your standard toiletries of course. Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, razor, hair brushes, hair ties or clips, hair spray, styling tools, feminine products and diapers if they apply.
Hair ties and hair spray are my absolute must. This is especially in places with high humidity. You can make a high, clean bun be elegant for a dinner out to avoid styling frizzy, island hair.
Consider your accommodations
Most resorts include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and even individually packed razors if you call housekeeping. I personally like to bring my own shampoo but I don’t mind the soap provided there!
Consider your family needs
Does your baby have eczema? Don’t forget his or her special body soap. Is your skin extra sensitive to drying out? Bring your own lotion. You want to consider what the probability of the items that will be at your accommodation and call ahead of time to ask is appropriate as well.
Also for a baby or very young toddler I would highly recommend an inflatable bathtub you can insert in the shower or tub of your hotel or rental. This will keep their delicate skin more hygienic and easier for you to bathe them in a small tub. This also solves your need if the accommodation doesn’t have a tub at all.
Health & Sun care
It is without saying that you need to pack a sunblock. If you have kids I pack a separate one that is appropriate for their delicate skin. I recommend hypoallergenic ones if you have babies and toddlers.
Pro tip: Try the sunblock at home prior to traveling. You want to ensure that you or your family do not have a reaction to the sunblock while away from home.
Speaking of, you also want to pack a small first aid kit in your toiletry bag. One that will include band aides, Neospiron, allergy medicine, aspirin and a thermometer.
I unfortunately learned this the hard way. My then 1 year old was very warm at night after a full day of fun in the pool and the beach. I didn’t bring a thermometer and we were in a hotel with no convenience store.
I happened to be with a local of the city due to going for work and she drove me into the city pharmacy to obtain one. It was very uncomfortable and inconvenient to say the least however much necessary. Please learn from my experience and just pack these basic things. I will not go on another trip, beach or not without it.
Lastly, bring a cream in the event you get sunburnt. It will alleviate any pain and discomfort and you will be able to sleep better as a result.
Swim & Beach Gear
This will largely depend if you are driving or flying and where you are staying. If you are flying you can only take things you can bring in a carry on or checked luggage. Therefore I recommend bringing a large beach bag in place of a purse! That way you can bring a pool toy deflated. I’ve flown with deflated flamingos, balls, and even sand toys this way!
Pro tip: Get one that is bright colored and can easily be spotted from the ocean if you leave it in the sand. This way you won’t lose your place and can keep an eye for it.
If you are driving, you can of course take an umbrella or canopy. You’ll also want beach chairs, a camping blanket and a cooler for snacks and drinks. If you are staying in a resort you won’t need any of those things as they are all provided for you minus bag and toys.
I truly do recommend if you have the ability to get a go pro you should splurge. You’ll get some really neat photos under water and in action. I’ve taken it surfing, snorkeling, diving with sea turtles and feeding stingrays. If you have any of these water activities planned, I highly recommend it.
Pro tip: For other electronics such your cell phones and DSRL cameras bring with you zip lock bags to protect them from the water.
I hope you enjoyed these recommendations for an organized and essential beach vacation packing list. It has helped me for so many years to not forget an item and add what I hadn’t considered before. You can also enjoy reading about my best travel laundry bag recommendations and for more travel inspiration as well.
If you’d like to see some of my trip highlights you can find those videos at my Instagram page! Tell me what you thought!