The only 7-day family beach vacation packing list you need

Counting down to your next beach trip? Lucky you! When you have your accommodation all figured out, it’s time to get cracking… or should I say packing? As much as you love dreaming about the tropical beaches, endless ocean views, incredible resort surroundings or unique Airbnb or house rental and one-of-a-kind excursions that you have planned, there’s this final hurdle that stresses you every single time: packing.

We’ve compiled the ultimate beach packing list to help you overcome that reluctance and take the stress out of packing for a beach vacation. It’s actually based on the packing list for our trip to Hawaiian islands with kids but in a 7-day version.

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The ultimate beach vacation packing list

Whether you plan on going island hopping in Hawaii, discovering the dreamy beaches in Portugal, exploring a tropical Caribbean island, enjoying the luxurious comfort of your dream beach house, sailing in the Seychelles, exploring the French Riviera on a road trip, sailing to the Croatian islands, exploring the Costa Vicentina, discovering the best beaches in the South of France or spending your days in a chique Mediterranean resort, your beach vacation packing list will look exactly the same. Still, a beach checklist comes in handy because, apart from the obvious items, there are always some essentials that slip your mind.

So, are you ready to find out what the ultimate beach trip packing list looks like?

Vacation packing list basics

Packing for the beach list with a collection of clothes, nightwear, a sleeping mask and make-up bag

Now that your beach bag is all packed and ready, it’s time to get to zoom in on the other things to pack for a beach vacay. You won’t be wearing a bikini all day every day after all, right? Here are some other items that should be on our beach trip packing list:

  • Clothes: For myself, I usually pack 2 or 3 dresses, 2 shorts, 1 legging for hiking and about 3 t-shirts or tops. But I have a confession to make: I usually treat myself to a piece of clothing at the destination too (or two, or three or even more).
  • Handbag: Years ago, I used to travel with too many pairs of shoes and, as a result, several handbags. But times have changed. Now I pack just one handbag that matches all my outfits. The boho touch of a rattan straw bag usually works well with most items on beach vacation packing lists.
  • Shoes: During the day, I tend to wear my dressy Holster Australia slippers, the ones that I mention in the beach checklist of this article but are really hard to find in the US, on quite a few occasions. These Pierre Dumas sandals make for a nice alternative. Except on hikes of course, when I wear my Merrell’s. Finally, I pack one pair of wedges that matches all of my evening outfits (and goes well with the aforementioned rattan straw bag).
  • Intimates: Make sure to include a strapless bra.
  • Nightwear: A cute tropical-looking pajama short set is perfect for any beach vacation. The shorty pajama that I’m wearing on one of the photos in this article is from the In Bloom collection by Jonquil. It’s super light, breezy and colorful. The matching short wrap robes are perfect for a balcony breakfast in style. This exact model might not be available anymore but they bring out a gorgeous new collection every season.
  • Sleeping mask: Sweet dreams guaranteed with the Iluminage ant-aging sleeping mask. Its copper technology infuses the silky soft fabric and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. I love this mask, it’s so comfortable and soft. A great alternative that looks just as comfortable is this 100% Pure Mulberry Silk sleeping mask.
  • Pillow case: I always bring a pillow case to slip over the one that’s provided by the accommodation just as an extra precaution. Plus, I’m used to the soft feel of my silk pillowcase so I bought another one that I take with me on my travels. Spoiled, I know. But then again, a silk pillowcase does wonders for your skin and hair.
  • Mosquito repellent: When traveling to a dreamy tropical destination, you’ll probably have to put up with mosquitos. Outsmart those annoying little creatures by packing mosquito repellent.
  • Toiletries, make-up and hair styling items
  • Laundry powder: a bit of laundry detergent is great for a quick wash of bathing suits or kids’ shorts. For beach vacations that last longer than a week, I use the hotel laundry service or the laundry machine in our Airbnb.

And for a family beach vacation packing list:

  • Hubby’s clothes: The hubby packs 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 2 shirts and 3 polos (or t-shirts).
  • Hubby’s shoes: A pair of Merrell’s and a pair of classic shoes.
  • Kids’ clothes: Similar to what we pack for ourselves.
  • Kids’ shoes: A pair of sporty sandals – we love Keen open toe model because they are are waterproof, sturdy yet discrete – and a pair of classier sandals for girls or sporty shoes for boys.

Beach essentials

Let’s start with the least boring part of preparing for a beach vacation: packing the beach essentials. Those gorgeous flip flops that you bought on your last trip, that new bikini you’ve been dying to wear and the eye-catching floaties that have been gathering dust for way too long. Going through the beach checklist often brings back so many amazing memories. The kids love it just as much as I do, so I usually get them involved too.
Here’s an overview of essential things to pack for the beach:

  • Swimwear: Needless to stay that swimwear is a necessity on every beach packing list. I’m a huge fan of Ani Ani Beachwear. The brand might have a Hawaiian name but it’s actually Dutch. The good news is that you can have it shipped worldwide. For a week-long beach vacation, I pack 2 bikinis (or swimsuits) and 2 cover-ups.
  • Flip flops: I absolutely love Holster Australia slippers. These jelly gems sit just as comfortably as regular flip flops but look way more stylish. So much so, that at some destinations you could easily wear them to diner as well. The pair featured in one of the photos in this article has traveled with me around the world and still looks amazing. Holster has a new line of vegan slippers too. The only thing is that these are hard to find in the US. But no worries, these Pierre Dumas sandals come pretty close.
  • Beach towel: The Dock and Bay beach towel is lightweight, quick-drying and sand-repellent, making it an essential item on every beach vacation packing list. Have you tried it?
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: If you love the ocean, then you’ll do everything in your power to protect it. Even something so simple as buying the right sunscreen can make a change. I did my research on reef-safe sunscreen and recommend Raw Elements, Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen and Kokua Sun Care.
  • Beach hat: A necessity to protect your scalp, neck, ears, shoulders and your hair. Plus, it makes for a fashionable accessory. Go for the wide-brimmed version or a compact and foldable yet glamorous sun hat.
  • Rashguard: Since I have fair skin, I tend to get sunburned quite quickly no matter how much sunscreen I use. So, especially when participating in water activities, I wear a rash guard. I usually go for one with a zipper. This one is very practical yet fashionable.
  • Sunglasses: As much as I love my glamorous sunglasses, they’re not ideal for bright days at the beach. That’s where polarized sunglasses, such as the iconic Maui Jim’s, come in handy.
  • Water bottle: An innovative innovative purifying water bottle such as the LifeStraw Go or the CrazyCap Water Purifier is a must for any trip.
  • Snorkel gear: I’ve only snorkeled with the classic snorkel and mask combo but I’m dying to try the full-face snorkeling mask. The QingSong mask seem to get great reviews. Have you tried it? Any other brand that you’d recommend?
  • Waterproof smartphone case: My favorite is the Joto Universal Waterproof Pouch, it hasn’t failed me so far.
  • Portable security safe: The Safego portable lock box is super handy to keep your personal items safe when going for a dip. Just attach it to your beach chair or umbrella for more piece of mind.
  • Power bank: The Anker Powercore Essential is perfect for charging your phone, action cam and even a tablet. The sleek design packs plenty of power, making it the perfect travel companion for families.
  • Cooler: The Yeti coolers have quite a reputation when it comes to keeping your drinks super cool.
  • Beach bag: All that’s missing from this beach checklist, is a fashionable yet practical tote that fits all these items.

And for the family packing list:

Extra things to pack for the beach for active travelers

GoPro for your Hawaii vacation

Now that our kids are growing up, our beach vacations are getting more active every year. We love snorkeling, surfing, hiking and even kayaking the coastline. Yep, that kayaking trip to the Benagil cave in Portugal still is one of our fondest memories. If you like a more active type of beach vacation too, then you need to add these items to your beach trip packing list:

  • Action camera: Pack a GoPro with Floaty plus some spare batteries.
  • Water shoes: Not all beaches are soft and sandy and, along the water’s edge, the shells can sometimes make it really challenging to get to the ocean. Especially for the kids, we often pack some water shoes to make it as comfy as possible on their tender little feet.
  • Water-resistant hiking shoes: If you plan on doing some hiking during your trip, whether that’s to the aquamarine waters of the Calanques in the South of France or to the mesmerizing Hawaiian waterfalls, I’d highly recommend packing a wear of water-resistant hiking shoes. You can never go wrong with a trusted brand such as Merrell or Keen.
  • Dry bag: If you plan on doing some water activities, like kayaking or SUPing, then a dry bag is a necessity to keep your items safe.

Here’s what to scratch from your beach packing list

There are plenty of things that we wouldn’t put on our packing list for the beach. Beach tents, body boards, beach tennis paddle sets, floaties and bucket and spade sets are both available and affordable anywhere. When you rent a condo or a home-away-from-home at a beach destination, some basic beach gear is often made available for you to use. Our amazing Airbnb on Hawaii Island came with beach towels, goggles, boogie boards, beach chairs, an umbrella and more. Perfect to explore the variety of beaches on the Big Island.

Our Maui family trip was spent at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. During the first day of our beach vacation, we met another family who was leaving. They were kind enough to pass on the beach toys and body boards that they bought in a nearby store to us. We did the same when we were leaving, passing it all on to a young family waiting at the check-in desk.

GoPro for your Hawaii vacation

When traveling with really young kids, you often tend to overpack even more than usual. During our first intercontinental trips with little ones, we even brought along our own stroller and baby mattress. But why travel with so much bagage when you can rely on the service of a concierge or baby rental company?

Carry-on packing list for beach vacations

The other items on this packing list are the kind that you pack for every kind of trip, whether it’s a beach vacation or a weekend in Disney World.

  • Passport and driving license
  • Credit card: Make it one that rewards travel.
  • Some cash: Especially take some smaller notes for tips.
  • Proof of insurance
  • Tickets and booking confirmations (in physical or digital form)
  • Medications: Including dramamine and some first aid items.
  • Antibacterial wipes: I’m a notorious germaphobe so I never go anywhere without these wipes.
  • Sweater or jacket: To make it a bit more comfy and warm on the plane.
  • Moisturizer and make-up: Hydrating the skin is essential on long flights and a quick touch-up for your make-up can do wonders.
  • Phone charger and portable charger: Plenty of devices to charge on a long flight.
  • Noise-canceling headphones: Dear Santa, don’t you agree that the Sony WH-1000XM4 would look great under my Christmas tree?
  • Kindle: The most recent waterproof Paperwhite model is the perfect reading device to put on a beach vacation packing list.
  • Board game: We always pack a small board game. It can come in handy during a rainy moment, when the mid-day sun is a bit too intensive or after dinner.
  • Plug-in LED light night: We like our room to be very dark at night and often find the night lights in hotel rooms or rentals to be too bright. So, we usually bring our own little plug-in LED night light which casts a gentle light over the floor, just enough to find our way around the room. It’s very practical in finding the way to the bathroom or the kids’ bed at night in an unfamiliar place without waking up the rest of the family.

Final tips when packing for a beach vacation

Now that you’ve checked all the items off the beach packing list, it’s time for the real challenge: fitting it all into your suitcase(s). Here are some helpful tips to travel light:

  • The number one rule is an obvious one yet putting it into practice always proves to be a challenge: Don’t overpack! You know that itch that you feel when you happen to spot a bit of empty space in your suitcase after you’re done packing? Resist it. Trust me, it’s so much more fun to fill up that space at your destination. Which brings me to the next travel tip.
  • Leave some room for souvenirs. During our recent Hawaii trip we stocked up Hawaiian gifts such as pineapple-shaped cookies, coffee, shell necklaces, macadamia nuts and so much more. In the South of France we couldn’t resist buying lavender in Mediterranean Cassis and during our most recent Paris trip the girls bought macaron-themed aprons and sparkling snow globe tumblers. Granted, the offer might not be as tempting at every destination but we always bring home a souvenir.
  • Use packing cubes. There’s a reason why these little things are so popular: they really do free up space.
  • Wear the heaviest or bulkiest items on the plane. Athletic or hiking shoes, for one, take up so much space in the suitcase and they’re perfect for criss-crossing the airport..
  • Finally, don’t fall into the ‘just in case’ trap: If there’s an item that you’re unsure about, then chances are you won’t be using it. So, when in doubt, skip it.

Like this beach packing list? Then pin it or print it!

I truly hope that this packing list for a beach vacation will help you prepare a stress-free packing moment and a care-free trip. If you still have a few weeks to go before your trip, then you could easily bookmark or pin this packing list for a beach vacation for future reference.

We have sprinkled other affiliate links throughout the site content. Clicking on such a hyperlink and/or making a purchase to the website it refers to, may result in a commission for CosmopoliClan at no additional cost to you. As Amazon Associates we also earn from qualifying purchases. It allows us to dedicate enough personal time and energy to this blog. For more information, visit the Disclaimer page

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