The average beach vacation includes a wide range of activities, from relaxing on hot sand to catching waves in crisp ocean water to land- and sea-based sports. Then there are long evenings of cool, breezy walks and hot nights on the dance floor. Beach travelers should keep all these factors in mind when dressing for their vacation. Items like sunglasses and swimsuits are obvious, but there’s also a variety of attire that’s necessary for any beach vacation.
For the beach itself, you’ll need a bathing suit and a pair of flip-flops or sandals. You’ll also want a light-colored T-shirt or other comfortable shirt you can cover up with for protection from the sun. Women should pack cover-up attire like a chiffon skirt, wrap, sarong or tank cover-up for walking to and from the beach.
Outside of clean underwear, the most important thing you’ll be wearing on your beach vacation is sun protection. Just about any day on the beach entails sitting out in unrelenting sun. Be sure to wear a pair of sunglasses and a brimmed hat or cap to keep the rays off your face.
You’ll want to wear casual clothing for dinner and activities. While the specific clothes will vary depending on the location and activity, men should be both comfortable and presentable in polo shirts, shorts, socks and a pair of sneakers or other casual shoes. Women can wear tank tops, skirts/dresses and shorts. Since the beach can get hot and may be humid, opt for light, cool, moisture-wicking fabrics like blended polyester and silk whenever possible. If you’ll be walking around, wear shoes that are comfortable and supportive. On cold, windy or overcast evenings, wear warmer clothes such as jeans or khakis and a jacket or sweater. If you’re prone to getting chilly, a jacket is a good idea even on warm nights, as restaurants and stores often have air conditioning turned up high.
While many beach-based restaurants and establishments have a flexible, resort-casual dress code, you’ll want to wear nicer clothes in some restaurants or night clubs or at certain events. Check into dress codes ahead of time and dress accordingly. Travel + Leisure magazine suggests always packing a formal outfit: “Whether you’re going to Paris or the jungle, pack a tie and proper shoes. Formal attire shows respect to people whose patronage you need — and you never know who will invite you to dinner.”
To keep track of time on those long, sleepy days on the beach, remember to wear a watch. Since you may be swimming and leaving your possessions unattended, wear a cheap, water-resistant watch on beach days. Wear a dressy watch, rings and jewelry out to dinner or at formal events, but leave them in the hotel safe when you’re sunning and swimming.
If you plan to jog on the beach or work out in the fitness center at your hotel, pack gym clothes, socks and sneakers. Since the climate will likely be warmer than where you live, you’ll want to wear lighter clothing. Save the cotton sweats for home, and pack thin, moisture-wicking workout clothes. Sleeveless shirts can be a good idea.