25 game-changing beach essentials you need this summer
Everything you need for the most fun in the sun.
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Now that it's finally summer—and now that many states have reopened beaches following months of closure during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—many of us are itching to put our toes in the water and our butts in the sand, as the Zac Brown Band would say. But aside from bathing suits and plenty of cold drinks, what else is worth tossing in your beach bag this summer?
To help you make the most of your next trip to the shore, we've rounded up 25 of the best beach essentials based on reviews, ratings, and our own testing here at Reviewed. Some of our top picks include the chaise lounge chair that's selling out everywhere, our favorite Bluetooth speaker, and a genius mitt that wipes off sand.
1. This oversize blanket made just for the beach
Laying out on your towel is all fun and games until you get out of the water and have to use the same towel to dry off—and subsequently end up covered in sand. Instead, save your towel for post-swim and spread out this beach blanket instead. Made of quick-dry, durable parachute nylon, the 63 square foot blanket is lightweight and portable (it folds up into a convenient pouch) and has four anchor pockets to keep your blanket from flying away. Reviewers say it's perfect for beaching, picnicking, and camping alike and is big enough to fit the whole family.
2. This beach cart to lug all your things
Chairs, toys, coolers, oh my! Packing for a day at the beach can feel like packing for a 10-day vacation. That's why so many people love this all-terrain beach cart. With over 1,100 reviews on Amazon, the collapsible cart is praised for its wide wheels that make it easy to push over the sand and its spacious storage (including a removable tote bag, an umbrella holder, and a separate bottom rack underneath).
3. This all-in-one beach umbrella
Say goodbye to flyaway umbrellas or umbrellas that don't provide adequate shade. The BeachBUB umbrella—which has been endorsed by the American Life Guard Association—solves both of those problems. With a specially-designed, unique base, the oversized umbrella can withstand winds up to 35 MPH without tipping over and comes with all the tools you need to easily set it up and tote it around, including a shovel, umbrella towel hooks, and lightweight carrying case.
4. This comfortable Tommy Bahama beach chair
There are two things we look for in a beach chair: easy to carry and comfortable. And these popular Tommy Bahama chairs check both those boxes (and more!). We have them at our beach houses and, as someone who grew up using cheap rental chairs, I can honestly say these are well worth buying. They can be carried backpack-style which every beachgoer will appreciate and can be adjusted to four different positions. Plus, each chair has a cushioned headrest along with a cupholder and an insulated cooler pouch in the back.
5. The top-rated Kindle Paperwhite
Reading at the beach is great. But reading at the beach and ending up with soggy, crumpled book pages? Not so much. One solution is the Kindle Paperwhite. Chosen by our experts as the best Amazon Kindle, the Paperwhite is water-resistant (rejoice!) and has the most storage space of any other model, so you can stock up on all your favorite e-books, audio books, and podcasts.
6. This mitt that wipes away sand
Without fail, you find sand in your shoes, your clothes, and your car for weeks following a beach trip (where does it all come from?!). While you can't completely get rid of all those pesky grains, you can limit the amount of sand you bring home with you thanks to the Sand-Off Mitt. We tested the bizarre-but-brilliant product here at Reviewed and had great results. The mitt was very effective at brushing off sand (much more so than a towel) and did so quickly and efficiently.
7. These genius cupholder stakes
Keep your drink out of the sand (and, more importantly, the sand out of your drink) with one of these brilliant cupholders. Hundreds of reviewers swear by them, saying they take them to the beach every time they go. They like that they're so easy to use—they stake firmly in the sand—and that they can also be used for things like your phone or headphones so you can keep both your beverage and your devices sand-free.
8. A super convenient sunscreen stick from Sun Bum
Suntan lotion leaves you feeling greasy but spray always ends up going everywhere except your body (le sigh). Enter the game-changing sunscreen stick, which you can easily rub all over for non-greasy, full-coverage protection. This one from Sun Bum has over 1,100 glowing reviews because it's hypoallergenic, water-resistant, and lasts for up to two hours before you have to reapply. Bonus: With Vitamin E, it even moisturizes your skin while protecting it at the same time.
9. This easy-to-carry IceMule cooler backpack
Staying hydrated when you're at the beach is very important. Whether your drink of choice is H20 or something a little more adult (cough, alcoholic), keep it ice cold with this popular IceMule cooler backpack. Over 600 shoppers have given it a five-star rating because you can easily sling it over your back to keep your hands free and it's lightweight and comfortable to carry. People also say it's incredibly well-insulated and they like that the IceMule coolers even float (perfect if you decide to take it out on your float or ocean kayak!).
10. Our favorite Bluetooth speaker
Crank up your summer playlist with the JBL Flip 5, which is our experts' number one portable Bluetooth speaker. Not only does it have great sound quality, but it's also incredibly durable and water-resistant, so it will survive a few splashes from the kiddos when they're frolicking in the waves. Plus, it has a long battery life and can play for up to 12 hours on one charge.
11. This pop-up beach tent
There are two types of people in this world: those who love the sun and those who don't. If you're in the latter group—or if you just need a break from the heat from time to time—bring this pop-up tent to the beach with you. One of our editors who lives on a tropical island (yes, we're jealous, too!) uses it and likes that you can fully open both ends to let in a nice cross breeze and that it easily anchors to the sand. Reviewers also rave that it's super lightweight (just 4 pounds total) and is UPF 50 so it absorbs any harmful rays.
12. This lounge chair with a cult following
The Ostrich chaise lounge took the Internet by storm last year as thousands of people fell in love with the genius chair that has a cut-out for your face (like a massage table) so you can comfortably lay on your stomach. If you're looking for one this year, however, you'll find it's sold out everywhere from Amazon to Target to Walmart. However, you can pre-order the incredibly popular chaise from Ostrich's website to be shipped in early July. According to 4,000+ reviewers, it's just as good as you'd think and is sturdy, comfortable, and lightweight.
13. A trendy sun hat
Does it even count as a beach trip if you don't post a picture of yourself in a floppy straw sun hat to social media? For a hat that's equal parts fashionable and functional, hundreds of Nordstrom shoppers love this unisex one from popular hat brand Brixton, raving that it's very comfortable and that they get tons of compliments every time they wear it. You can also go the personalized route (a major trend on Instagram!) with one of these hats from Etsy, which over 600,000 people (!!) have bought and loved thanks to the customization options and elegant embroidery.
- Get the Brixton Joanna Straw Hat from Nordstrom for $55
- Get the ModParty Personalized Floppy Beach Hat from Etsy for $21.99
14. This classic Scout beach tote
Scout bags are like the Jennifer Annistons of the beach bag world—timeless, beautiful, and wildly popular. The original Deano tote is a roomy 19" x 15" x 10" (which you'll need for all your sunscreen, books, chapstick, wallet, etc.) and made of durable, weatherproof material that won't be damaged by water or sand. Fans of the tote love that the handles are sturdy and comfortable to grip and that the flat-bottom design sits firmly on the beach so your bag keeps its shape all day (and won't tip or spill).
15. An inflatable float for the ocean
Who said pool floats are just for the pool? Certainly not us, because they're just as fun for floating around in the surf. While many retailers are quickly selling out of floats right now, we've rounded up where you can still buy some of the most popular pool floats this summer, like this over-the-top floating cabana from designer float brand Funboy or this magical ride-on unicorn both kids and adults will love taking for a spin.
- Get the Sunnylife Ride On Unicorn Float from ShopBop for $70
- Get the Bali Cabana Lounger from Funboy for $199
16. These water shoes to protect your feet
Rocks? Sharp shells? Urchins? No problem—these water shoes will keep your feet safe and cut-free while you swim. They have nearly 11,000 positive reviews on Amazon thanks to their light weight and comfortable fit. People love how the shoes slip on easily yet hug your foot snugly and securely and provide the right amount of protection without feeling clunky or heavy.
17. These must-have towel clips
The day I bought these towel clips was the day I finally stopped chasing my towel down the beach. With over 1,300 Amazon reviews, the rust-resistant clips are budget-friendly (just $11 for 8) and come in a rainbow of bright colors. I like that they can clip to almost any size chair and are sturdy enough to hold your towel securely in place whenever you aren't sitting in your chair.
18. These reusable bags for snacks
Between swimming, volleyball-playing, and sandcastle-building, you're bound to work up an appetite. Pack snacks and sandwiches in a reusable bag like these ones from Lunchskins. When our experts tested them, we found them to be the best reusable sandwich bags thanks to the fact that they keep food fresh (and keep dirt and sand out) and that you can simply toss them in the dishwasher when you're finished to reuse them the next time you head to the beach.
19. A Spikeball game the whole family will love
Cornhole, Kan Jam, bocce... the list of fun beach games is seemingly endless. But one of the most popular for 2020 is Spike Ball. My own family has a set and we play it at every family function and every beach trip. It's challenging enough to be entertaining yet easy enough that people of all ages can participate and it always keeps us laughing for hours.
20. This snorkel set for both kids and adults
When you're bored of laying out, bored of swimming, and even bored of cornhole, add a little excitement to your beach day by going snorkeling. This set from ProDive comes with everything you'll need, including a snorkel and anti-fog goggles packed in a waterproof bag. According to the 1,600+ reviewers, the snorkel is easy and comfortable to use (and doesn't let any water in) while the goggles seal snugly to your face and allow you to see all the critters and shells in the ocean clearly.
21. These brilliant can covers for your drinks
You've just cracked open a cold one—when your little one asks you to go play in the ocean or your dad asks you to join in on a game of volleyball. What do you do with said drink (if you don't feel like chugging it or, worse, letting it go flat)? The answer: Put one of these can covers over it. The lids have over 400 reviews for effectively keeping drinks carbonated, preventing spills, and keeping bugs—or sand—out of your can.
22. This portable lockbox to keep your stuff safe
Since beaches are some of the few places that are open right now, chances are high they'll be pretty crowded this summer. And while it's fun to actually see other humans again, it also means you might not want to leave your iPhone and wallet sitting out unattended on your towel while you go for a swim. Protect your valuables with this portable safe, which has over 2,000 reviews on Amazon. People appreciate that it has a combination lock and a key (in case you forget the code or lose the key) and is both water- and rust-resistant. The heavy-duty steel cable also hooks easily onto anything from your beach bag to your chair.
23. This stylish Turkish beach towel
A big beach trend for summer 2020? Turkish towels. Not only do they look chicer and more stylish than your average terrycloth towel but they also dry faster and are less bulky (i.e. they're surprisingly lightweight). This particular towel has received hundreds of glowing reviews from Amazon shoppers because it's highly absorbent and is made of 100 percent cotton so it feels super soft against your skin when you're lying oceanside.
24. This waterproof pouch for your phone
The sand, the ocean, the drinks—all things you love about the beach but all things your phone hates. And since nothing ruins a fun afternoon faster than, well, a ruined phone, keep your device safe with this best-selling waterproof phone pouch. It has over 30,000 reviews on Amazon and people love that it snaps easily and securely closed (keeping out any potentially harmful water, sand, and dirt) and that it fits almost any phone. Plus, it comes with a neck lanyard so you can take your phone out on the water with you hands-free.
25. This spray sunscreen for easy application
For a day at the beach, there's no denying that many people prefer spray-on sunscreens over lotions. They make application quicker, easier, and don't even require you to rub them in. (Just make sure you spray even coats so you know you're covered everywhere!) This spray from Babo Botanicals claims to feel ultra-sheer and non-greasy, plus it's zinc-only, making it reef-safe.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.