Posted on 6/27/2022

The Ultimate Beach Packing List with Space-Saving Tips

It's that time of the year again! When the ocean waves beckon you and you crave the feeling of sand between your toes while the sunshine warms your shoulders. With your next beach vacation just around the corner, it's time to start packing and make sure you have everything you need for the perfect beach trip.

This guide is geared towards summer beach trips, but can be easily altered to fit the other seasons. In spring or fall, exchange a pair of shorts for pants and add in an extra sweatshirt instead of a tank top. For winter, change out your swimsuits for light sweaters and shorts for pants and you'll be good to go. 

Luckily the weather never gets too cold on Anna Maria Island but you'll still be happy for that sweater on your beach walk in January.

Space-Saving Packing Tips

Stay in a vacation rental property instead of a hotel

Luckily, when you decide to stay at a vacation rental home on Anna Maria Island, you'll have a lot of the comforts of home and beach essentials already waiting for you. No need to pack beach chairs, a beach umbrella, or beach towels. Much of the beach gear you'll need is already at the property, just be sure to double check the specifics as to how many chairs, umbrellas, and towels they have so you're sure to have enough for your family.

Most likely the property will also have some beach toys, a reusable water bottle, and kitchen supplies, too. After confirming exactly what items the property has, I'm sure you'll have far less to pack than you originally did.

Use packing cubes

Packing cubes are a huge hack for saving space and staying organized. By using packing cubes, you can organize your clothes better and save yourself some hassle when unpacking. Plus, packing cubes condense your clothing so you'll have far more space in your bag than you usually do.  

Pack by outfit

A huge packing hack is to pack by outfit, instead of by item. If you choose your outfits ahead of time, you'll not only have less decisions to make when getting ready each day of your trip, but you'll only pack the essentials and won't carry along plenty of clothing you won't really need. 

Pack items that can mix and match

At your vacation rental home, you'll have access to a washer and dryer. That means, you can do as many loads of wash as needed during your time. If you pack items that can mix and match, you can make new outfits out of the same items. By combining this tip with the tip above to pack by item, you'll make it really easy on yourself to see how you can reuse as many items as possible. 

Do the same tip with shoes, to find a pair or two that can go with everything.Now that you have some ideas on how you can save plenty of space in your luggage, let's dive into your beach packing list so we can make sure you have everything you need for your perfect holiday in the sun.

Beach Bag Essentials


Easily one of the most important things you can bring with you to the beach is sunscreen lotion. Regardless of where you're from and how exposed to the sun you usually are, you'll want to take sun protection seriously. At the beach, you typically get longer exposure to sun, and usually in places that don't see the light of day too often. 

Avoid sunburn by packing at least an SPF 50. We highly recommend you plan ahead and get a reef-safe sunscreen to protect not only your skin but also our incredible ecosystem. Don't forget to also pack lip balm with SPF, too. Nothing is more uncomfortable than burnt, chapped lips at the beach! 

Sun Hat

Easily as important, be sure to pack a sun hat. Our faces are even more sensitive to UV rays than other parts of our body, so the best way to allow you to have some fun in the sun while protecting your skin is to wear a sun hat.  

Aloe Vera

Even if we do everything right, sometimes sunburn still happens. Pack some aloe vera to apply after you shower and your skin will bounce back quicker than usual. Plus it's soothing so it'll also make a burn less painful for your kiddos.   


Take advantage of the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico and be sure to pack a snorkel for each member of your family. It's possible to rent them at some of the beaches here but you and your kids will have so much fun with this that it's best to have your own snorkel to use whenever you'd like.  

A Kindle or Book

One of my favorite things to do on the beach is read a really great book. Be sure to bring your Kindle or buy a new book from the bookstore before heading to Anna Maria Island. There's nothing as relaxing as becoming engulfed in a new book with the sound of the waves to urge you on.  

Beach Toys

While your vacation rental might have the sand toy essentials, like a bucket and shovel for building sandcastles, most kids and even adults will enjoy having some extra toys to play with. Our beach favorites are a frisbee, bocce balls, a GoPro, and a water ball. With these toys, you'll have hours of entertainment in the sand or water.  

First Aid Kit

Most lifeguard stands will have the essentials, but if you plan to spend time on quieter beaches like Bean Point, it's important you're well-prepared for any cuts or stings that might happen. A small first aid kit should be enough to cover the basics. For really energetic kids, you might want to bring some water shoes to ensure their feet stay cut-free while they go exploring. 

Beach Blanket

While you'll be happy to have your beach towels to dry off with, a beach blanket is great for lounging in the sun. While I prefer to lie in a beach chair, my children love having a big beach blanket to spread out on. This is a great spot for them to eat their lunch, play, or take a nap without being confined to a chair or small towel.

Bug Spray

The last item you need to pack in your beach bag is bug spray. Typically the beach is too windy for mosquitos, but it's never a bad idea to have it just in case. You'll also be thankful for this when you're inland on the island.  

Must-Have Clothing


You're at the beach after all! Be sure to pack a variety of bathing suits to work on your tan lines. Mix and match tops and bottoms so you don't need to back more than just a handful of your favorites.If you have young kids joining your trip, don't forget to pack swim diapers and floaties so they can enjoy the water, too. 


Pack your favorite cover-up that'll work as a dress so you can pop into a shop or restaurant before or after hitting the beach. A sarong is also great to have as it doubles as a cover-up and towel.  


The weather is hot in Florida during the summer, so you'll want to pack accordingly. Two pairs of your favorite shorts should be plenty for a week-long beach trip.  


Give yourself some variety from shorts by adding in dresses and skirts to the mix. The shorts and skirts should be able to mix and match with your t-shirts and tank tops to give you a variety of outfits with just a few items.  

T-Shirts/Tank Tops

I suggest bringing a variety of tops, that can be dressed up or dressed down. In general, everywhere on Anna Maria Island is beach casual so you'll be able to get away with a t-shirt and skirt really anywhere you'd like to eat.


Exercise Clothing

Whether you plan to do a serious workout, or just go for a morning beach stroll, having an outfit set aside from exercise is much needed on your beach trip. Only bring one outfit, unless you plan to exercise daily, since you can wash it between wears at the washer and dryer in your vacation rental.  

Shoes x3

Be sure to add 3 different pairs of shoes to your packing checklist. I recommend 3 distinct pairs that you'll get your wear of:
  • Tennis Shoes (shoes you can wear to exercise and also for a quick outing to the shops)
  • Flip Flops (make sure these are waterproof and ideal for the sand and salt water)
  • Shoes for dinners (be sure to pick a pair that will work well with any of your outfits)

Toiletry Items

When you're making your beach trip packing list, be sure to include:
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Make-Up Essentials (no need to overdo it here, at the beach, only the essentials are needed!)
  • Deodorant
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Lotion

Bonus Items

To really make this the best beach trip yet, be sure to pack these additional items as well. Some of them are optional but will make your beach days even more comfortable and fun.
  • Portable Speaker: Great for listening to tunes while on the beach or around the pool at your beach house rental.
  • Chargers: Bring chargers for your cell phone, Kindle, and any other devices you might want to have with you.
  • Laptop: If you need to get some work done while on holiday, pack your laptop. If not, I recommend you leave this at home so you can be fully present on your family beach vacation.
  • Dry Bag: Great for bringing items to the beach or pool that you want to make sure stay dry, like credit cards, cash, or your phone.
  • Wet Swimwear Bag: This is great for packing so in case you need to bring home any wet clothes, you'll be sure not to get anything else in your bag soaked. If you don't have this, a plastic bag will also work well.
With this beach packing list, you'll be ready to sit back and relax in the sun, instead of worrying over the things you forgot to pack. Get ready to enjoy a stress-free vacation to one of the best beach destinations in the world, Anna Maria Island.
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