The Ultimate List of Summer Beach Bag Essentials

Picture this: you’re half asleep, the most relaxed you’ve ever been, no worries on your mind, just having the time of your life at the beach….

When you realize you’ve forgotten something. Your sunscreen, your change of clothes for the drive home, a towel to dry off after a dip in the water – even your bathing suit (it happens to the best of us). I’m writing this to help you out, and to help you avoid all of those sticky situations. As a beach local, I present to you the ultimate list of beach necessities – plus some extra products tested by a beach local.

1. Bathing Suit

“I don’t think I’ll even go in the water though”, says my mom every time we go to the beach. Right after we show up, BOOM! All of a sudden she’s slapping herself in the face, because she regrets not bringing her swimwear. Even if you don’t think you’ll wear it, BRING it!It never hurts. All of my current favourite bathing suits have come from Zaful. Even though shipping may take longer than you want it to, and it is usually a hit or miss situation, their amazing prices make it worth the trouble. PRO TIP: make sure to check the review section to see if you should size

PRO TIP: make sure to check the review section to see if you should size up or down!

2. Sunscreen and SPF Lip Balm

I can’t say this enough, but sunscreen is essential. Protecting your skin in the summer is not only ideal for keeping your skin hydrated and youthful, but it’s also beyond important for your health. My favourite brand of all time is Sun Bum – their face stick and lip bombs are so convenient, easy to pack, and their SPF 15 water resistant tanner never has me leaving the beach burnt. Not only that, but how can you beat their super cute packaging and the fact that their scented products take us straight to Hawaii?! I get the majority of my Sun Bum products off of Well.ca – I’ve never had issues with shipping delays, and they have the best variety available for Canadians.

3. Activities and Things to Do

As much as we all love it, I’m sure we can all agree that sitting on the beach gets boring after a while. That’s why bringing activities for you, your friends and family to do on your next day trip is always a great idea! Some examples could be soccer balls, frisbees, a good book, or my personal favourite – friendship bracelet making supplies. Your local dollar store or Walmart should carry string and beads just like those pictured below, and this book by Mark Manson is my current pick! Along with all of these, I also always carry a notebook and pen; just in case I get inspired, and need to write down any ideas. This one’s also great if you feel like disconnecting from your phone! 

4. Towel

An absolute must. This will make or break your day. PERIOD.

5. Water

Being Sun-tired after a long day of catching rays is a real thing. But it can get worse than that – which is why water is so important to bring everywhere with you during the summer months. I’m currently loving my Yeti water bottle – even though they’re on the pricier side, so far I’ve been finding it well worth it for the amazing quality. 10/10 would recommend! 

6. Waterproof Mascara

Voluminous Lash Paradise is by far my favourite! It’s extremely inexpensive, and the quality is comparable to mascaras twice the price. No more racoon eyes post-swim!

7. Waterproof Shoes

My favourite waterproof shoes of all time as a lifeguard are the Eva Sandals from Birkenstock. They are the most comfortable sandal I’ve ever warn, totally waterproof, and of course cute and trendy!

8. Sunglasses

Lately, my favourite pair has been my Ray Bans. When picking yourself a pair of new sunglasses, always remember to decide whether you’d like them to be polarized or not! Polarized sunglasses help with glare, which is super useful if you plan on boating or being in the water. On the other hand, polarized sunglasses make it harder to see screens such as your phone, or if your car has a display system.

9. A Speaker or Headphones

These are always all-around summer essentials. Music can make such a difference in whether your day in the sun is a good one, or a boring one! Your best bet here is to buy inexpensive, especially if you have plans to spend a lot of your summer at the beach or near the water. As you’re probably aware, sand, water, and electronics don’t mix well – not to mention the stress of leaving your expensive tech at the beach, and potentially having it stolen while you head out for a swim!

10. Waterproof phone case

If you plan on going boating or leaving your phone near the water, a waterproof phone case is a must. You can find super affordable and reliable options on Amazon.

11. First Aid Kit

You never know when you’ll need it. Be sure to pack bug spray and hand sanitizer in there too!

12. Bag of Salt

This sounds crazy, I know! But if you’re headed to a beach where there’s even a slight chance of leeches, this could save your day. It definitely happens to the best of us. I like to keep a few of those free restaurant/McDonald’s salt packets in my bag, just in case!

13. After Sun or Moisturizer

As mentioned previously, Sun Bum has saved me on countless occasions and they offer so many products for so many important uses. It smells delicious, soothes your burns, and even leaves your skin glowing. For a cheaper option, head to your local drugstore and purchase any Aloe Vera lotion, or even try to grow your own aloe plant if you’re up to the challenge!

14. Haircare

For me, this includes my hairbrush, waterproof scrunchy, hair elastic, and my hair lightener. Once again, SunBum has my heart with this one – after using the following three hair products together (pictured below), I can confirm that they’ve changed the game for me. Applying hair lightener in the morning and seeing results by the afternoon has to be one of the best feelings!

15. Bikini Bag

After going in the water, you’re going to want a place to put your swimsuit so it doesn’t make a mess in your car. If you’re feeling extra, Amazon sells these ones for $20 – if not, a large zip lock bag is a great option too!

16. Clothes or Cover Ups

The only bottoms I wear all summer are my Levis 501’s. As for shirts, my favourites of all time come from Life is Good. I always shop the men’s collection for a relaxed, oversized fit – ideal for wearing over swimsuits or changing into after a swim.

17. Portable Charger

I don’t know about you, but it seems like my phone dies 10 times faster in the sun. My favourite pick for portable chargers are the solar powered options! You can find some on Amazon here. These are so convenient, and perfect if you’re like me and will forget to charge your charger (or your phone)!


At the beginning of summer I’ll put all of this along with a few snacks in my old backpack from Vans, so that everything’s always there and ready for me to grab and go straight to the beach with. Darker colours are always my favourite, as white and lighter ones may start to get dirty if they get wet and used often. Remembering to pack these things is important, but if anything, just remember to relax and to have a great time!

Article by Sarah Johnson

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