A beach set up including sun shade, chairs and esky

What to bring to the beach: The complete beach packing list

For years, I used to stress every time we went to the beach as I knew I’d forget important things. With three little kids and a dog, there was SO MUCH to take! I got in the habit of writing a list of beach essentials on a scrap of paper the day before so I’d know what to bring to the beach. Then I’d throw the list away! When I’d done this a few times, I realised it was crazy as all of my effort writing the list of stuff for the beach was going to waste. So I created a master checklist for the beach that I could use for day trips to the beach or as a beach holiday packing list which I can turn to every time we want to go. It means I have a list to refer to every time I head to the beach so I never forget a thing.

I love trying to be more organised, and now it means I know exactly what things to bring to the beach and it only takes a few minutes to gather it all.

I’ve created this checklist for the beach and it will be available as a PDF very soon too!

This post contains affiliate links. 

What to bring when going to the beach in Australia

Here’s my list of essentials for the beach.

When it comes to essentials for the beach, the most important items are the ones that protect you from the harsh sun.


Sunscreen is hands down the most important beach essential when you’re planning items for the beach. You should look for sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB broad-spectrum coverage. Look for a 30+ SPF and apply it liberally. Ideally, for beach days you want to choose waterproof sunscreen but still make sure you reapply it often. I prefer natural zinc sunscreens like Ethical Zinc and Sun and Earth for big beach days. It’s important to consider your skin and the surrounding environment when choosing which sunscreen to use. I prefer to use reef-safe sunscreen.

Shop for sunscreen at Nourished Life

Sun shade

Choosing the right sunshade for your needs is so important. Make sure it’s large enough, easy to put up, made from durable fabric that offers a high level of sun protection and think about how easy it is to carry.

I LOVE my CoolCabana. I’ve tried many different sun shades of the years, and this (so far) is the best I’ve tried. It’s easy for once person to put up, it holds up in the wind, it looks sleek and smart on the sand and it is easy to carry in its shoulder bag.



Shop for CoolCabanas in Australia

Rash vests/rash guards

My kids aren’t allowed on the beach without wearing rash vests/rash guards/UV tops during the day. It’s a non-negotiable. Sunscreen can do so much, but covering up with material that protects your skin is the best skin protection you can provide. I prefer long sleeved tops for the kids, and my daughter usually wears a swimming costume with built in long-sleeved arms.

Shop for rash vests on Ripcurl
Shop for rash vests on Amazon Australia

Water bottle

Don’t head to the sand without water. It’s incredible the amount you drink when you’re at the beach. We use insulated water bottles that keep liquids cool for up to 24 hrs. The benefit of this is you don’t need to keep them in your cool bac – they can be transported in any bag you like. That frees up your cool bag for anything that really needs to stay cold like snacks or cans of drink.

Shop for water bottles on Amazon Australia 

Waterproof beach bag

Get yourself a good quality waterproof beag bag for your Australia beach days. You’ll get so much use out of it. I use my beach bag for everyday essentials like keys, my phone, plus things like sunscreen, my book, sunglasses etc.

Shop for beach bags on Amazon Australia 

Beach rug

A large beach rug gives you somewhere to sit or lay. There are options of sand proof rugs or waterproof rugs depending on your needs. A good beach rug will last you for many years and will get used a lot.

Shop for beach rugs on Tentworld
Shop for beach rugs on Amazon Australia

Beach towels

The benefit of getting beach towels is that they’re lighter weight and they dry much faster.

Shop for beach towels on Amazon Australia


A wide-brimmed hat is one of the most important things for the beach. Baseball caps leave your ears and neck unprotected. For kids, it’s a great idea to get hats with a string under the chin to keep them in place. You can also get water hats for swimming in. 

Shop for hats on Ripcurl
Shop for hats on Amazon Australia 


Your eyes also need protection from the sun. I love my Maui Jim prescription sunglasses. 

Shop for sunglasses on 1001 Optical
Shop for sunglasses on Amazon Australia 

Mosquito spray

You might not have an issue with mozzies during the day, but if you stay at the beach to cook a BBQ in the evening you might find you need this so it’s a useful addition to your beach checklist. 

Shop for natural mosquito repellent on Nourished Life


It’s always worth taking some kind of watersport gear to the beach. 

Shop for boards on Amazon Australia 

Bucket and spade

Even though my kids are 9, 12 and 12, a good old-fashioned bucket and spade still provides great entertainment on the sand. We’ve had ours for many years and have had so much use out of them, so choose a good quality set that can last. 

Shop for beach toys on Amazon Australia

Cooler bag

Fill your cool bag with ice blocks, snacks and drinks. 

Shop for coolers on Tentworld
Shop for cool bags on Amazon Australia

Travel first aid kit

This should include band aids, bandages, antiseptic cream, antiseptic wipes, antihistamines, paracetamol and bite cream. 

Shop for a travel first aid kit on Amazon Australia 

Beach wagon

Choose a sturdy beach wagon with big sand wheels that will be easy to pull on sand. 

Shop for beach wagons on Amazon Australia
Shop for beach wagons on Tentworld

Beach chairs

You get so much use out of beach chairs over the years, so it’s worth investing in some good ones. Make sure they’re easy to carry though as you don’t always have space in your beach wagon for everything and if these come with a carry bag it makes life much easier. 

Shop for beach chairs on Tentworld
Shop for beach chairs on Amazon Australia

Plastic picnic set

If you plan on eating a picnic, cooking a BBQ or just getting a takeaway meal, a plastic picnic set of plates plus some cutlery is really handy. 

Shop for dinner sets on Tentworld
Shop for picnic sets on Amazon Australia 

Portable Beach BBQ and accessories for cooking

Free beach BBQs are everywhere, but there is nothing quite like having your own gear. It means you don’t have to clean up straight after cooking (you can take it home to do that), you can cook where you like providing it’s safe to do so and you never need to wait for someone to finish! 

Shop for portable BBQs on Amazon Australia
Shop for portable BBQs on eBay

Flask with tea/coffee/cups/spoon

You will never find me at the beach without a flask to make coffee! I’m still working on the best solution to make good coffee at the beach so watch this space as I’ll be testing out lots of products and writing a post about it in future. 

Shop for flasks on Amazon Australia

Beach games

Sometimes it’s fun to play a game of cricket or boules at the beach!

Shop for beach games on Yardgames


For windy days, this is fun. 

Shop for kites on Yellow Octopus


My ideal beach day involves laying and reading a good book on the sand. 

Headphones for audiobook/podcasts/music

I tend to not use these as I prefer to listen to the sound of the ocean but my hubby is a big fan of audio books so loves to take his headphones. 

Shop for headphones on Amazon Australia

Empty bag for rubbish

We spend a lot of time thinking about the items for the beach, but it’s just as important to remember to take away your rubbish from the beach. I always pack a few plastic bags. If we have a take away/cook a BBQ and use the picnic gear, we use one to store the dirty plates/cutlery. It’s handy to have another for wet, sandy clothes and another for any rubbish you need to put in the bin as you leave the beach. 


Googles are useful for going in the ocean. You might want to take a mask and snorkel if there is anything to see at the beach you’re heading to. Either way, our kids love using them and it’s a great way of building their water confidence. 

Shop for snorkelling gear on Amazon Australia


A sarong is handy as a cover-up. 

Shop for sarongs on Amazon Australia

Spare clothes

If you’re heading to the beach in your swimwear as my kids tend to do, remember to take a set of clean clothes they can put on to travel home in. Otherwise they’ll be travelling back in the car in wet, sandy swimwear. 

Pen and notebook

I carry these everywhere – you never know when you’re going to be inspired or need to write yourself a note about something. 

Hairband and brush

My daughter has long hair, so this one is for her and people like her!


You want to be able to capture precious moments at the beach. 

Shop for a camera on Amazon Australia

Portable phone charger

My kids love to play Pokemon Go, so my phone usually ends up dead by the end of a day out. A portable phone charger is a lifesaver.  

Shop for portable phone charger on Amazon Australia

Reef shoes

You don’t want to stand on glass or any dangerous fish at the beach. Reef shoes don’t offer total protection but they do provide some protection. 

Shop for reef shoes on Amazon Australia


This is so you can look out for dolphins or turtles, or even whales depending on your location and the time of year. 

Shop for binoculars on Amazon Australia

Fishing gear

If you’re into fishing, a beach day can be just the opportunity to spend some time fishing. 

Shop for fishing gear on Amazon Australia

Hand sanitiser/masks/antibacterial wipes

This is the world we live in now. Even at the beach it’s important to have this stuff so you’re prepared.

Where I can, I love to get Australia-owned and Australia-made beach gear. It’s not always possible but there are so many incredible Australian beach products.