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We all need gear for the beach. We need safety gear so we aren’t injured in the ocean or by the harsh rays of the sun.
We need practical items to keep our stuff safe and clean. We also need fun items to keep our family members busy for hours.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of essential beach gear for 2021. You might not need all of them, but we’re sure there are a few that will meet your needs.
I consider myself a minimalist when going to the beach but I always take my bodysurfing fins, a hat, and natural (non-chemical) sunscreen. Let’s get started!
#1 Sand Socks
What are sand socks you ask? Even though you might not be familiar, they’ve been around for a while. Sand socks are popular for beach athletes, like volleyball players and soccer players, who stand on the sand for long periods of time.
They’re also popular with snorkelers to protect their feet from being cut on the reef.
Sand socks can also be used for the casual beachgoer. They are great for walking from the car to the beach and provide some protection from the sun as well.
I doubt I’m the only one who applies sunscreen all over my body yet always forgets to put on my feet. Sunburned feet are no fun. We like these well-reviewed, inexpensive socks.
#2 Non-Pole Umbrella
How is it possible that a beach umbrella doesn’t have a pole? Well, it does have a pole but not one that goes into the sand.
We learned quickly that umbrellas can be difficult to get into the sand. I’ve spent 10-15 minutes digging a hole and trying to force a pole down into the sand.
They can be even more of a headache if there’s a breeze. If there’s wind, you might have to chase an umbrella across the beach.
The great thing about Sport-Brella is that it can attach to nearly anything. An ice chest and chair work great to stabilize the umbrella and the angle can be adjusted for the sun. It beats the problems associated with the sand by avoiding it altogether!
#3 Churchill Makapuu Bodysurfing Fins
If you’re a swimmer you’ve no doubt braved the waves of the ocean and tried to ride a few. I love body surfing and usually do it with no equipment.
If you want to catch waves body surfing you’ll need to be an excellent swimmer, however simply swimming fast won’t help you catch the wave.
While you can get by without fins, you won’t be able to ride the wave very long. Real bodysurfers use fins, and not just any fins.
The most common fins available at stores are long and made for scuba diving or snorkeling. They are for slow, long strokes in the ocean.
Bodysurfers don’t need slow long strokes. They need short, explosive bursts of speed to catch a wave and remain in it.
Thus, bodysurfing fins are smaller than most. The most popular are the old-school Churchill Makapuu blue and yellows.
They’ve been around for decades, since 1936 to be exact, and my father even had a pair. If you use Churchill’s people will know you’re serious about bodysurfing.
#4 Beach Wagon with Folding Table (All-Terrain)
Mac Sports makes a versatile beach wagon that is perfect for any trip to the beach. We all know how challenging it can be to walk across hot sand.
Adding to the problems is that our hands are usually full with bags, towels, food, umbrellas and sometimes kids!
This beach wagon makes walking on the beach easier. The oversized tires move over sand easily and the wagon can hold your umbrella, food, ice chest, and towels. You’ll only need one hand to pull the beach wagon.
Although there are a few beach wagon options on the market we like this one from Mac Sports. It breaks down easy to fit in your car and takes up less space than a stroller. It has two extras as well:
- A handy table that folds out to hold drinks and personal belongings
- A nice cover to put over the wagon for storage (with handle).
#5 Sandal + Bottle Opener
Yep, these exist. These sandals have been around a while so you may have heard or them or seen the sandals yourself.
The bottle opener isn’t seen because it’s on the bottom of the sandal. It’s not felt either because the opener is on the arch of the foot. Brilliantly made!
Reef has the most popular sandals with a bottle opener (maybe they have a patent). The sandals aren’t bulky or strange looking, rather they are built well and can be worn anywhere.
Sandals are great for lazy days at the beach and at the house. You could even use it on the couch while watching football on the weekends
#6 Beach Lock
A beach lock is a handy item, especially if you’re headed to sunbathe or swim by yourself. I always had the dilemma of where to put my valuables while I’m swimming.
Usually I’d wrap important items in a towel and keep a close eye on it from the water. But this isn’t always a good idea. People walking by can easily run away by the time you get out of the water.
A beach lock allows you to put important items like phones, keys, and wallets in a secure place and attach it to something big. Keep in mind you’ll need a chair, umbrella, or ice chest to attach it to.
It also makes for a good, practical gift for any beach-loving family member. Beach locks are available for a reasonable price and come with a bag. Check out beach lock options on Amazon.
#7 Spike Ball
If you’ve traveled to the beach over the past few years you’ve definitely seen Spike Ball. Or you may have seen it on Shark Tank where the owners were pitching for investment.
Spike Ball is a team game, 2 people per team and plays around a circular court similar to a mini-trampoline. The ball is bounced off the trampoline and teams take turns hitting the ball.
It can be played in a small area and works great for the park or backyard, however, the best place is the beach. At the beach players can dive for balls and don’t need to worry about their landing.
Spike Ball is easy to learn and simple enough for all ages. It’s even one of the best selling beach games. If you’ve seen people playing but never looked into how to play, check it out.
#8 Natural Sunscreen (Safe For People and Ocean)
You might not realize it but most sunscreens out there aren’t healthy for you or the environment. Chemical-based sunscreens do a great job of protecting your skin, however, the long-term impact of chemicals on the skin is unknown.
Some chemicals have been found in urine, weeks after application. Similarly, sunscreens wreak havoc on the environment by coating reefs and destroying ocean life and water quality.
Sunscreens even cause problems once we get home and bathe. Bath water goes right back out to our oceans and lakes!
We like mineral-based sunscreens and sunscreens that are ocean-friendly. Luckily they are similarly priced as regular sunscreens but you won’t find many of them at the grocery store.
Read our natural sunscreen reviews to find one out that is great for you and the environment We really like Badger and Raw Elements brands!
#9 Morey Body Board (Boogie Board)
Morey Boogie coined the term boogieboard and it’s stuck ever since. If you’ve owned or rented a body board in the past chances are it was a Morey.
The company is known for making the best casual boards but they also make high-end options for professionals. Consider Morey the Nike of the body boards.
Whether your kids need a decent board for summer vacation or you have an athletic family member that knows how to bodyboard, you can’t go wrong with Morey.
They have plenty of colors and styles to choose from. If you want something simple they make it. If you need a board that will last years they’ve got those too.
We reviewed the best body boards for the beach – check it out!
#10 Hat with Neck Protector
Not just any hat, get one with a neck protector. The back of the neck is one of the most sun damaged areas on our body.
It receives sun every day, no matter if we’re walking the beach or walking to work. Why not protect yourself?
If you’re on a budget, you can cut a tee-shirt or use a hand towel. It can be stuck under the back of the hat or sewn into the hat.
If you’d rather have something commercially designed, this hat (shown right) has a little style with it. It’s lightweight, thin, but still has UV protection built in.
It’s perfect for a day at the beach, on the lake fishing, or working in the yard.
It even protects your ears! I wear mine whenever I’m out for long hikes or days at the beach.
#11 Waterproof Iphone Cover
If you’re someone who takes electronics to the beach then you definitely want a phone or Ipad cover. Sand and water can easily get inside pricey phones and tablets, causing damage that could be irreversible.
A waterproof cover will do more than just protect from water. It should also protect from sand (sand gets everywhere). As an alternative, you could use a large ziplock bag.
I usually put my cell phone in a ziplock. The phone can be used while covered. If you prefer something a bit more stylish, there are plenty of options available.
#12 Binoculars for the Beach
Binoculars for the beach are a must have for any family. You never know what you’ll see.
It could be transport-ships off the coast, whales breaching, dolphins riding the waves, or attractive people walking by on the beach. Just make sure you’re prepared to get a better view.
Binoculars come in all shapes and sizes. We really like Bushnell’s waterproof and fogproof porro prism.
Check out our review for the best beach binoculars for whale watching from shore.
#13 Beach Tent
Beach tents are a great addition to the beach if you have young kids or a large family. Beach tents usually have one side open for a view of the ocean and have windows for air to pass through so it won’t blow away.
If you’ve had bad experiences with umbrellas like I have, then a beach tent is a good alternative. Beach tents are lightweight, durable, simple to set up and break down – almost like a pop-up tent.
We think the best beach tent is the Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent. It’s a number 1 seller with reviews to support it. Add this item to your essential beach list and skip the umbrella altogether!
Related: Best Baby Beach Tent
#14 Beach Lounger
Chillbo Baggins (great name right) makes inflatable lounge chairs or air hammocks for use at the beach, park, or yard. I’ve seen these a lot recently so I added them to the list.
There isn’t much to it so they are lightweight and easy to pack.
Beach loungers inflate easily, so you don’t even need a pump or mouth to blow air. Just 2 “scoops of air” according to the directions.
They can also be used in the pool as a water lounge chair. We like that it’s adaptable for land and water.
Although it won’t give you the back support that a regular chair will provide, it will be comfy to take a nap on or sunbathe.
#15 Stand Up Paddle Board
Stand up paddle boards, or SUPs have caught on quickly in the past decade. The concept has been around for centuries, but its introduction as a commercial leisure activity has made SUPs a must-have for summer.
SUPs are a fun challenge to learn and provide an excellent workout on the water. Once you get the hang of balancing on the board, you really start to have some fun.
Some people even do SUP yoga. SUPs can be used for competition, leisure, or actual transport across the bay. If your dog loves the water too, he can join you on the board.
#16 Inflatable Kayak (Intex Explorer K2 Kayak)
Maybe you love being on the water but don’t want to get wet. Or maybe you love the paddling workout of a kayak but don’t have space for a kayak in your garage.
The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a great option for people who don’t have much space or have a roof rack on top of their car. This isn’t your backyard blow up toy, it’s strong and sturdy and does well in the water, however, it’s recommended for calm waters, not the surf.
If you plan on using in the harbor or bay then the Intex Explorer is a pretty good option.
It measures 20 x 36 x 123, weighs 35 lbs, has 2 inflatable and adjustable seats, and a fin on the bottom to assist with stability (can be removed). The color is yellow so it attracts attention in the water (mostly for safety).
It uses heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl and has multiple air chambers to protect the integrity of the kayak if something goes wrong.
Also included is a repair kit, 2 strong oars, and an efficient high input pump that will aid fast inflation and deflation.
#17 GoPro Compatible Snorkeling Mask
Waterproof GoPro cameras are great because they’re perfect for getting memorable photos in and out of the water. Underwater photos are fun to take but how are we supposed to wear it while wearing a snorkel mask? Look no further…
This snorkel mask was designed for the person who loves GoPro. It features a 180 degree panoramic view for your GoPro with a fog-resistant design.
We haven’t tried it yet, but 1000’s of other people love it.
#18 Beach Builder Create-A-Sand Castle
Sandcastles never get old. Kids have been building them for generations and their talent has increased tenfold (or has it). If you’re like me, maybe you’ve been fooled by the amazing detail in sand castles made by kids.
I ran past a group of kids last month and couldn’t understand how they made the lines in the castle. Yes, I know it’s obvious.
Well, families can now purchase buckets with the detail built in (it’s been around a long time). To speed up the castle building process get the Sand Castle Building Kits for kids.
It features 18 pieces to help make arches and towers. Just don’t let the waves ruin your work!
#19 Kite for the Beach
There are a few different kites available for kids and adults. Most of us are familiar with the single-line kite that we used growing up but there are others that are much more fun.
The best kite for the beach are stunt kites that are dual-line kites. They can be controlled by pulling on each line, which causes them to dip, dive, dodge, duck, and dip (movie reference).
Dual-line kites are great for older children and adults. The best for traveling is a parafoil kite that is frameless.
It can easily be stuffed in a sack and they are durable. I purchased one for my dad and we’ve been using at the beach.
A duel-line parafoil kite will be a good workout on a windy day and can be used to train for kiteboarding.
#20 Beach Remote Control Car
If you’ve never seen a remote control car on the beach then you’re missing out.
Occasionally I’ll see someone and a rather large remote controlled car zooming around the sand. The car is oversized compared to a normal RC car for pavement, and uses paddle tires to accelerate.
When I see people playing with their RC cars they’re usually near the back of the beach on the dunes away from people where they can drive up and down, spit up sand, and get airborne.
The Traxxas company is the leader in powerful RC cars and they have a cult following.
Don’t use any RC car because the sand and water can damage them. The Traxxas Revo 3.3. 4WD is a beast and performs well on any terrain.
It’s quite the investment but if you enjoy racing, you’ll love doing it at the beach. Be sure to also get paddle tires! Check out what Traxxas RC cars can do below:
#21 Beach Drone
You might be wondering why you’d need a drone on a beach. Drones are no different from remote control cars.
They’re fun and they can do things that cars can’t. Besides flying, they take video. With video you can capture your family’s vacation way better than you could with a camera phone or GoPro.
A drone can take pictures too. The camera is mounted on the remote so you see, in real time, what the drone is seeing.
This makes pictures and video easy. If you have a big family or simply want to share your vacation memories with others, using a drone for imaging will no-doubt impress everyone.
These days drones are relatively inexpensive and fun for the whole family. Just make sure you don’t fly out of range when it’s over the ocean. Once it gets wet, it’s done!
I’ll preface this item by stating that you won’t be able to use a slackline on the beach (prove me wrong).
However, you will be able to use a slackline near the beach if there are trees, picnic tables, or volleyball nets. Slacklines need anchors to attach to and the beach rarely has sturdy poles.
If you’re at Venice Beach in Los Angeles or Mission Beach in San Diego then you should be able to find a place to test your skills. It’s a fun hobby to start and helps build balance and core strength.
You can also use these in the backyard when you’re not at the beach. Slack lines are easy to carry and you can keep it in the car for random inspiration or a road trip.
#23 Big Thing-Big Bubbles
Big bubbles are fun no matter what age you are. Most of us learned to make huge bubbles in school with a rope or string.
“Big Thing-Big Bubbles” makes it easy for us by providing all the materials. If you want to draw attention to yourself at the beach, consider making these huge bubbles.
Kids will wander over to watch and chase the bubbles. Better yet, you can do this activity with kids and teach them how to do it.
At the beach, there is plenty of space and it won’t be annoying to other beach-goers. In fact, everyone will like it! Its a budget-friendly activity for the whole family.
#24 Brolar Solar Charger – Waterproof
Some people just can’t live without their phones. If you’re spending all day at the beach you might need your phone. Just to warn you, there won’t be an outlet nearby.
Solar chargers have become much more efficient in the past decade. I remember using one in the early 2000’s and it would take all day to get a full charge.
Not anymore! This solar charger can charge your phone 2 times before it needs to be recharged again.
It is small and lightweight so it can fit in a pocket. Plus, it’s also waterproof and dustproof so you don’t have to worry about water or sand (maybe a little bit with sand). Read more about the waterproof brolar solar charger.
#25 Silicone Wine Glasses
Wine glasses just got less classy. Don’t worry though, at least they won’t break. If you’ve ever organized a romantic picnic at the beach you know that wine glasses can be the cherry-on-top. They make even the most mundane activity classy and impressive.
Unfortunately, wine glasses at the beach don’t always work. If the glass falls it probably won’t break on the sand, however, if it does break, picking up the pieces will be impossible as glass can seriously damage feet.
For those of you who must have wine on the beach, we offer these nifty silicone based wine glasses. They won’t leak or break and you can play catch with them after drinking.
They come in a stylish color and won’t break the bank.
#26 Guardian Gear Pet Waterer
Dogs need space on this list! People love being at the beach with their dog and dogs love the beach. But the ocean isn’t like the pool so they’ll need another source of water to drink from.
Thoughtful pet owners know their pet’s water needs, so consider where the dog will drink at the beach (maybe at the outside shower?).
Guardian Gear offers a simple waterer for people and dogs on the move. The bottle can be refilled and drains into a small foldable tray, easy for your dog to drink from.
This is the perfect size to hold while you’re on a beach walk.
#27 Behemoth Giant Beach Ball
Yep, this is a huge beach ball. Taller than a man and woman. If you want to do a practical joke, suggest a beach ball and tell people you will bring one.
If you have kids this will provide hours of fun for them (and all the friends they will make) on the beach. Just don’t let a dog tear into it.
It’s 12 feet of fun so you won’t be able to blow it up. Use an electric pump from your car before taking it out to the sand. It might be fun for the ocean too!
#28 Flexsafe By AquaVault
One of the biggest problems families face while at the beach is the possibility of losing their valuables. We’ve already mentioned the beach lock above, however if you want something even more secure, consider a safe in the shape of a bag.
The Flexsafe was featured on SharkTank and it’s perfect for travelers and beachgoers. The safe attaches to your chair so it’s virtually impossible for thieves to make off with your keys, wallets and glasses.
Unless they decide to take off with your whole chair – we all know that won’t happen.
Whether you’re going for a swim in the pool at a fancy hotel or at a beachside cabana, the Flexsafe is a great accessory for safety!
#29 Beach Games for Kids (book)
Ok, we’re out of ideas for now but beach fun is limitless. There are a lot of beach games for kids. Get outside, experience the sand and water, and create your own fun.
We hope this list provided some practical and silly items for your 2018 beach trip. Whether it’s fun or safety we tried to include something for everyone!
Visit our website to learn more about beach safety, tips, and products. Thanks for reading!