By Real Simple
Updated May 23, 2007
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Whether you’re popping down for a quick swim or settling in for the afternoon, here are the best beach items to keep you comfortable, protected, and looking good. Choose as many as you like (depending on your luxury threshold), but don’t forget the basics, especially that high-SPF sunscreen.

What to Wear

  • Swimsuits
  • Swimsuit cover-up
  • Flip-flops
  • Wide-brimmed sun hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm

When You Find Your Perfect Spot on the Beach

  • Beach towel
  • Beach blanket
  • Beach blanket sandstakes
  • Folding beach chairs
  • Beach umbrella

Bumps, Bugs, or Sticky Sand

  • First-aid kit
  • Baby powder
  • Insect repellent
  • Baby wipes
  • Aloe vera gel or after-sun cream

For Easy Carriage

  • Mesh zip-up bags for valuables
  • Leather wallet pouch on a cord
  • Beach tote bag
  • Ziploc bags to carry wet suits and store trash