Romantic Beach Picnic (8 Ideas For Sunset + Food Options)

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If you live near the ocean you’ve probably considered a romantic beach picnic with someone you love.  I’ve got a few sunset beach picnic ideas that you’ll enjoy.

Maybe you just started dating a girl or guy and you want to impress them with a creative date.

Or your anniversary is approaching and you want to “spice up” a relationship that’s been established for years.

Even if it’s not “romantic”, a beach picnic is fun and allows you to be outside, enjoy the view, and make time for a friend or loved one.

I was lucky enough to attend university by the beach in Southern California.  My university was directly on the water (if you know your Southern California universities, you might be able to narrow it down).

On a weekly basis, I witnessed couples visiting the ocean at sundown to walk, and enjoy a picnic on the beach.

In all the years I lived near the beach I never attempted or had the motivation to organize a romantic picnic on the beach.  However recently, I went for it.

It took some time to organize the evening, but the date ended up being a fun activity.

The following is a step-by-step guide to organizing a romantic beach picnic.  To be honest, it’s relatively simple and affordable compared to a night out on the town.

Follow along and to ensure you have a good experience.  We’re here to set you up for success!

Packing List For A Sunset Beach Picnic

  • Blanket/Towels
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen (depending on the time of day)
  • Chairs
  • Umbrella
  • Cooler with food (see below for food ideas)
  • Utensils
  • Glasses (for wine) or plastic cups
  • Breath mints
  • Napkins

Steps For Planning A Romantic Beach Picnic

No. 1  Picnic Site Research (Sunset Time)

how to plan a romantic picnic at the beach

A beach picnic takes a little bit of planning beforehand.  Most important are the site, time, and weather conditions.

With a little bit of research preferably in-person and not online, you can find a great spot.

Find a suitable site

This should be 1st on your list.  You will need to find a site and one that allows you to sit with a blanket.

Sand is fine, but if you’re on rocks or other media then it might get uncomfortable after 10-15 minutes.

You’ll want to visit the romantic beach picnic site a few days in advance…make sure you visit at the same time you plan to have the picnic.  Check out the traffic (both foot and car).

How many people are coming to this spot?  It would appear unoriginal if you take him/her to a place with another couple sitting 20 feet from you having a similar picnic.

Find a spot that will give you some space, without passersby.  Kids, dogs, or drunk transients would be a distraction and put a damper on the picnic.  You want the focus to be on each other right?

Just as important, chose a site with a great ocean view and if possible a view of the sunset in the evening.

Weekday or weekend

For a suitable site, you’ll also want to plan for a weekday or weekend.  In my opinion, a picnic is so simple that it works great for a weekday activity after work.

On weekdays you’ll find fewer people at the beach and more space.  On the weekends, however, you’ll find a lot of people out and about with dogs and children.

Observe the tide

Depending on how close you are to the water, you’ll also want to watch the tide.  The tide can easily be checked on the internet.  Most people won’t be too close to the water.

You can always move your picnic if the tide sneaks up on you, but find a place a few hundred feet away from the water if possible.  This will be helpful after sunset when vision is reduced too.

When is sunset

In addition to the tide, you’ll want to know when sunset occurs. Check your weather applications to see when sundown is.

Give yourself an hour before sunset to each and chat before the sun goes down. Arrive too late and you’ll need a flashlight. Arrive to early and you’ll have to wait for sunset long after your picnic.

No. 2 Use the Sneak Attack Method

You may be wondering what the “sneak attack” method is.  Well, it doesn’t have much to do with an “attack”, but it does include a surprise.

If you’re planning the beach picnic for your boyfriend it’s best not to tell him.  If he’s a manly guy he’ll probably shoot down the idea quickly.

If you’re a guy planning for a girl, just know that women love surprises, especially date surprises.  If you tell them beforehand it could make the evening less special.

No. 3 Keep Costs Down (DIY)

A picnic is simple, so keep it that way.  These days, going out to bars and restaurants is expensive.

A bill can easily reach $50-100 for 2 meals and 2 drinks.  You might like to hear that a romantic beach picnic will cost you $20 or less.

And the ambiance will be worth much more than a bar or restaurant could ever provide.  One thing you can splurge on: a bottle of wine – just make sure the beach allows alcohol and you’ve figured out how to get home!

No. 4 Prepare Food Before or Buy To-Go Food From Restaurant

What type of food will you want for a picnic? Like we already mentioned above, the picnic should be relatively inexpensive.

The food I recommend is snack food and plenty of it.  There is no need to cook heavy foods like meat and potatoes.

I used chips/vegetables and dip, dried fruit, a nice pre-made salad from Trader Joe’s, and some dark chocolate for dessert.

No. 5 Pack Everything in a Backpack and/or Bag

When you leave your place everything should be tucked in a backpack and handbag.  If you’re walking on the beach you won’t want a lot of materials or heavy bags.

You definitely don’t want to be walking around with a table and chairs, or other bulky items.

Don’t forget a blanket to sit on and if you want to come off a nerd, bring some binoculars to search for whales or dolphins.  Can you imagine the stories he/she will tell if you take them on a beach picnic at sunset and see whales?

Related: Best Beach Binoculars for Whale and Seabird Watching

No. 6 Plan an Activity Before the Meal

In order to keep things, a mystery and surprise consider planning an activity before the beach picnic.  It’s normal and pretty easy to suggest a beach run or tennis match during the week after work.

Preferably you could organize an activity at or near the beach to reduce the drive. Once your partner agrees you can meet them at the beach with your picnic bags packed and start your first activity.

If you need ideas for a beach activity, paddleboarding is tons of fun and a great workout (check out the link below).

Related: Best Stand Up Paddle Board for the Beach

No. 7 Don’t Forget the Wine Glasses and Chocolate

In order to make the beach picnic more romantic, you’ll want to include a few specific things.  One thing you’ll definitely want are 2 wine glasses (even if you aren’t drinking wine).

For some reason, wine glasses or flute glasses for champagne make the ordinary, extraordinary.  Another article we wrote shares silicone wine glasses for the beach.

The fact that I mention wine and champagne doesn’t actually mean you need alcohol.  Sparkling water or juice makes just as much sense and adds class to the occasion.  Make sure you have a few words prepared for a toast as well!

No. 8 Timing is Everything

This suggestion goes back to site selection and planning.  When will you organize the beach picnic?  Of course, lunchtime is just as fun, however, it may be hot and you might need an umbrella.

In my opinion, just before sunset is the best time to arrive at the beach.

In the U.S. it’s important to know that the time for sunset is always changing with the seasons.  A quick check on google will provide you with all the info you need.

Plan for about an hour picnic.  If you stay longer the weather might cool down drastically. In this case, you might want a blanket!


In this article, I’ve shared my experience with a romantic beach picnic.  These are the important points that I considered before I organized my date and I must admit, my date went well.

A romantic sunset picnic at the beach is tough to beat and your date is sure to love it.

If you follow these steps I’m sure you’ll have the same success.  Feel free to add additional considerations depending on the site and conditions.  We wish you the best with your beach activities!