Essential Beach Gear for Summer with the kids

The Ultimate Gear Guide for Beach Bumming with kids

A person walking on a sandy beach near large rocks while looking down at the ground.

The months of May – September, you can usually find me at the beach. Whether it’s searching for moon snails with my kids, gearing up for a paddleboard adventure, or photographing clients in that perfect Golden Hour light.

Work or play, beachside is where I thrive. With kids in tow most of the time, whether my own or the families I work with ,I’ve pretty much mastered the art of beach gear. So, if you want to spend more time beach-bumming and less time stressing let me be your guide. I’ve got the lowdown on what’s essential, what’s worth splurging on, and what’ll last through endless sandcastle sessions—all certifiably kid-approved.

Let’s get into it.

Nothing here is sponsored, but some links may be affiliate links, which means that I make a small amount if you make a purchase through this blog. If you do, thank you! Any money made here goes to ice cream dates with my kids.

Absolute Essentials


For faces, Our favorite is the Sun Bum Face Mist. It doesn’t sweat into the kid’s eyes, it lasts a long time, it’s easy to apply and reapply and it smells like bananas. It doesn’t irritate my eczema kid’s skin and You can also use it on the body if you need to just get hands and tops of feet. For body, I like the Sun Bum and Blue Lizard creams.

Two children playing with sand toys on a beach.

Quality Sand Toys

Beach toys like buckets and shovels are well worth spending some money on. Three kids and ten years in, we have gone through a TON of beach toys. Most years we just planned on buying a new set every summer because they handles would break and the shovels would crack. I wish we had bought quality stuff from the beginning.

If you can afford the splurge, Spielstabil toys are well-worth the price tag. If you can even just splurge on the large bucket, they will last forever. We have three and they are still going strong after 4 very active beach seasons. I also highly recommend the beach toys from Hape and HABA. This Hape set comes with it’s own beach bag!

Water Bottles

Don’t overthink it. Just be sure to bring water! I have found that having one, large stainless steel water bottle with a wide-mouth lid is better than having a bunch of small straw-lid bottles that will, eventually get clogged with sand. If you don’t like sharing drinks with your boogery kids, bring some cups!

Swim Clothes

 Another shoutout to practicality. Swim shirts and shorts means less sunblock I have to help apply, and honestly my kids prefer them to traditional swimsuits. My pick – any of Primary’s swim clothes. We have never had to replace or toss any of our Primary clothes, but their swim stuff is particularly great for the price point they sell at. Plus, their colors are super fun (and make for really great photos).

Use this referral link to get 25% off your first purchase PLUS a year of free shipping

Three children smiling on the beach at sunset.

Baby Carrier

Honestly, any that are washable and lightweight will do. Lillebaby airflow -made of a sportsy mesh and it holds anywhere from infant to toddler. These run about $100 new, but you can find them used for $30-50 on a pretty regular basis. If you want to splurge – I loved my Aloha and Light ecosilk onbuhimo for infants. These are made in Hawaii and are made for water play, be it salt, fresh or even chorine. Machine washable and amazingly supportive for being so thin. Also, they’re real pretty.

Hand Broom

Don’t overthink this one either – just a soft hand broom to brush off sandy legs and feet.

Beach Cart

Listen you totally CAN carry multiple bags, but if you spend a lot of time at the beach, it’s well worth it to have a wagon or cart of some kind.

I’ve used many different pull-wagons, utility carts, and strollers over the years and my absolute favorite is the Joovy Platoon. It’s pricier, but about the same as a good beach stroller. I also use it for work, so It’s worth it to me to have something really excellent. On the cheaper side but still very good – this one from amazon. Or, if you or a friend have an older stroller with sand-friendly wheels, you can just use that!

Soft Cooler

These coolers are soft-sided so they pack flat, and don’t take up so much space when not filled completely. We have an older model of this REI Co-Op one and I really haven’t tried many others. An insulated grocery bag works great in a pinch.

Three children enjoying a day at the beach with sand toys, snacks, and comfortable chairs.


Again, less sunblock needed and it keeps their little eyes from getting too sunned-out. We love Sunday Afternoons Kid Trucker hats. Super cute artist designs and vented for those hot days. Also- you guessed it- machine washable

Camp Towels

Absolute must-have. These are the good microfiber type – Soft, dense and don’t cause sensory chaos. They are compact, dry super fast and also come in tons of colors if you color code your kids like I do. These Wild Owl ones from Amazon hit that nice spot between quality and affordability. 

Beach treasure bags

These are essential if you don’t like finding your personal bag weighed down with sandy, stinky dap rocks, shells or half-dead crabs that your kids collect for you. We love these ones from amazon. They are cheap, vented and machine washable and come in different colors so each kid has their own. What’s not to love?

Person laying in shallow water, showing bare feet.

Big mesh bag for the toys

You want a net bag so the sand can fall out and the stuff doesn’t get too musty if you don’t get a chance to pull them out of the car right away. There are lots out there, so figure out what size you need and buy accordingly.

Beach blanket

They sell these things everywhere nowadays. They are pretty simple – one side is waterproof and the other is a slick fabric that sand doesn’t stick to. They dry fast, fold up and velcro for easy storage and also are machine washable. No particular recommendation from me – pick a color you love and get beaching!

I hope you find this information helpful. I’ll be writing up lots more beachy resources soon. Be sure to subscribe to my email list to be notified of new posts!

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