What to put in a beach bag: the 12 essentials for a beach bag


The curse of June has lifted and the official start of summer has seen Metro Vancouver given a hot weather warning which can only mean one thing (stay safe and hydrated obviously but also), days at the beach! The coming evenings and weekends spent in the sun and by the water will remind us all why we live here the other nine months of the year. Like a kind of blissful amnesia.

We’ve already covered where to buy the best beach bags, now we have the goods to pack in said bags. Along with the basics like keys, wallet, phone, and headphones we never leave our homes without these days, there are a few beach extras to pack when heading out for a day in the sun. You might notice there’s no Bluetooth speaker on this list and that’s because I don’t think the beach should turn into a boombox battle; don’t be that person who ruins everyone’s peace.

That said, here are our top 12 beach bag essentials.

turkish towel

Turkish towels are superior in every way imaginable. They also serve as a beach blanket much more comfortably than a regular towel, they become softer over time, they are more absorbent and dry faster. They also have the advantage of being more stylish and durable than standard beach towels. This Tofino’s BC brand has a few optionsjust like this Small North Vancouver Turkish Towel Company.


No day at the beach is complete without a book. Reading hits differently in the heart of a storm by the fire and on the beach as a summer reading fills you inwardly with sunshine – those are the peak experiences and no one can change my mind. Canadian author and former editor of Refinery29 Carley Fortune has published her first novel a few months ago is set during the summers in the cottage country of Ontario and it’s a great summer read. There are plenty of summer reading lists to browse for your next book, but for those who don’t want to have to pick just one, the best beach e-reader is the Kobo Forma. It provides easy access to Canadian libraries for borrowing e-books, is waterproof and easy to read in the sun. Kindle White Paper is also a good beach reader.

Bottle of water

The world of water bottles has exploded with different technologies and advancements in recent years. They have airtight seals and the ability to keep things cold or hot for long periods of time, but some also come with crazy prices. Generally, the Hydroflask seems to rank first for efficiency and value for money, but Inflatable bottles are lighter and come in a range of designs, including some with straws.


We all know sun protection is important, we are adults after all. But sunscreen is more than just a body spray or cream. There are also face-specific SPFs and lip balms with built-in protection that’s just as important. The Supergoop Bright Display which comes in two shades is a cult favorite but I also love the Origins Ginzing SPF 40 Energizing Tinted Moisturizer. For the lips, I recommend the Supergoop Play Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai Where The Body Shop Vitamin E Lip Care SPF 15. For body sunscreens, there are plenty of great ones out there, so just make sure they’re reef safe.


A recent TikTok said President’s Choice was Canada’s version of Trader Joe’s. It’s not as good, sure, but it’s a great place to find snacks that are inventive, delicious, and can be easily tossed in a beach bag like Honey Dijon Crisps (or really any flavors of chips), peanut butter-filled pretzels, popcorn bars, or bunches of blueberries and nuts. Discover TikTok for other people weighing in on this too. Outside of PC, the Coconut Cream Larabars also scream me a beach bag snack.

Sun glasses

We’ve covered sunglasses, but they’re more for fashion than surviving a day at the beach, so my choice would be something polarized with UVA and UVB protection that won’t fall off my face if I course and it will clean it up easily if I drop them in the sand. Those from Amazon are an affordable base pair.


Uh. Personally, I am a fan of the wide-brimmed sun hat. Straw is more breathable and classic and I think Simons’s is a big fool for that of the free people. If you’re more into baseball caps, you can always steal one from your partner or your dad, but if you insist on yourself, then lululemon, Aritziaand simons you’ve got it all covered so take your pick. As for bobs, I can’t help you. I’m sure they’re super cute on you but I look like a toddler who lost his mother so you’re all alone.


The girls who get it get it and the girls who don’t get it. We can leave it there. Here is my favorite for the summer.

Claw clip/hair tie

I would like to reproduce this moment when Ariel flips her hair out of the water but alas I am only a mere mortal. If I tried this in the ocean, my hair would get tangled immediately and there would be no way to save it. I always keep something handy to put it on before I go in the water, so that even if I dive under it, my hair won’t attack. Ideally, to protect your hair from unnecessary breakage or shedding, you would use a claw pliers or one pet.

Hair brush

So you didn’t pack the last essential and you didn’t heed my warning about Ariel either? Well, pack a portable hairbrush. There are many variations of this idea, but my favorite is the one that folds into a compact with a small mirror; I keep mine in my purse at all times. If you have thicker hair and small hairs don’t cut it, Teezer Tangle also has a travel brush but they are expensive.

laptop charger

Overheating your phone can really ruin the battery, so in addition to keeping it in the shade, it’s good to have a portable charger handy. I’m sure most of us already have one somewhere, but if we don’t this is top rated for best value and is light enough to slip into a beach bag with all that other stuff.

something to throw away

You know, so you can recreate your own version of this scene from Superior gun (or movie). Whether it’s Frisbee, beach ball, volleyball, or water football, it’s essential that someone has some sort of throw/catch trick to really complete a perfect beach day. A disk or inflatable balloon are the easiest to put in a beach bag.


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