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There is, quite frankly, nothing better than a perfect day at the beach. Beaches along the coast and at lakesides provide an ideal environment for a safe, socially distanced activity and a way to beat the heat this summer.

Whether you are planning a long weekend away or a quick afternoon escape, you need to have all the essentials ready to go. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a chance to enjoy time on the sand or if you’re just in need of upgrading some of your gear, we’ve put together a great list of beach essentials for this summer. From a sand-free blanket to beach games, shelter, sunscreens, and other beach must-haves, here’s everything you need for a perfect fun day out of sun and sand.

1. Reusable tote bag

beach-essentials-Matador-Tote-Bag, beach essentials

Photo: REI

A reusable tote bag is essential, but that does not mean it needs to be boring. This trendy and stylish beach bag by Matador Transit packs away into a compact sack so it can be neatly stored when not in use. When unfolded it can hold 18 liters and is perfect for snorkeling gear, sandy shoes, and wet swimming costumes as you can easily rinse out the quick-drying fabric after use.

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Price: $24.73

2. Sun hats

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Photo: REI

Never underestimate the need for a sun hat. Not only do they top off your summer outfit, but they give much-needed protection from the sun and double up that given by sunscreen. This CTR Summit Crushable straw hat can be flattened down and popped into a bag, ideal for those who don’t travel light to the beach.

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Beach-essentials-sunday-afternoons-havana-hat,beach essentials

Photo: REI

We also love this Havana hat by Sunday Afternoons, which has adjustable sizing, a wicking sweatband and is made of breathable fabric.

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Price: $19.73 — $34.00

3. Sunscreen

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Photo: REI

Sun Bum is one of our favorite sunscreen brands because they are vegan, cruelty-free and reef safe. Their Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion is a beach essential sunscreen and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Couple the lotion with their signature lip balm which is zinc-based with moisturizing shea butter and vitamin E.

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Price: $14.95

4. Sunglasses

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Photo: REI

Sunglasses not only need to suit your face and look chic, but they also need to be durable, especially if you are going to be running about with a frisbee on the sand or jumping in the waves. We rate these Knockaround Mai Tais Polarized Sunglasses because they are affordable and wearable. With UV400-rated protection and polarized lenses, they are a must-have in your beach bag. If you are worried about them disappearing into the ocean, tag on a colorful glasses chord for around $10.

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Price: $25

5. Waterbottle

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Photo: REI

Keeping hydrated when in the sun is a no-brainer with this Hydro Flask. The double-wall vacuum insulation will keep your water cold throughout the day and its outer coating is BPA-free. It holds 20 fl oz of liquid and is one of the best flasks on the market outdoor activities. Although it is a bit of an investment, Hydro Flask products come with a lifetime warranty.

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Price: $37.95

6. Portable charger

Beach-essentials-goal-zero-flip-12-power-bank,beach essentials

Photo: REI

The last thing you want is a dead phone battery when you want to capture your day on the beach for the gram. This portable charger will have your back. It comes with three USB ports and is solar rechargeable in four to five hours.

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Price: $19.95

7. Beach towels

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Photo: REI

Slow Tide have a great collection of beach towels. Their Mauka Beach Towel has an especially fun tropical design making it easily spottable after a swim. Slow Tide also adheres to a responsible cotton production program, which we respect. This towel is 60 x 30 inches and will fold comfortably into your beach tote.

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Price: $29.95

8. Beach chair

Beach-essentials-neso-beach-chair,beach essentials

Photo: REI

A beach chair is not for everyone, but if you are someone who would rather sit above the sand with a beer rather than roll about on a towel or a rug, this lightweight framed chair is a great buy. It’s super comfortable, stable and sits snug into the sand. It also comes with storage on the back for the safekeeping of your phone, sunscreen and other beach essentials.

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Price: $49.95

9. Beach shelter

Beach-essentials-big-agnes-whetstone-shelter,beach essentials

Photo: REI

Those who are going to the beach with a family might want to consider investing in a beach tent or shelter. This pea-green shade by Big Anges is super versatile. One of its best selling points is that the outer shell can rotate so it can be adjusted accordingly when the sun moves. It’s also very easy and quick to erect and comes with handy inside pockets and hooks for storing your beach picnic snacks.

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Price: $127.73

10. Portable cooler bag

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Photo: IGLOO

Talking about a beach picnic, you might also want to consider purchasing a decent cooler bag. So much lighter and fashionable than a large clucky hand case cooler, this portable cooler by Igloo is made from recycled bottles and keeps drinks and food cold for up to 12 hours. If you are planning on a beach party this will hold around 20 cans in its spacy interior.

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Price: $39.95

11. Snorkel set

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Photo: REI

Aqua Lung Sport’s snorkel set comes on a handy travel bag, so there’s no need to worry about juggling fins, a mask and snorkel to and from the beach. The mask promises clear vision with its shatter-resistant tempered glass and antifog coating. Their short blade fins are also convenient for traveling and make kicking through the waves a breeze.

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Price: $74.95

12. Sand free mat

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Photo: REI

Who likes sand in their sandwiches — no one. This mat provides the solution. Made from weaved materials grains are able to fall through the mesh allowing for a sand-free lunch. It comes in various colors and patterns from a classic blue and white stripe, aqua green, a blue zig-zag design and quilted navy.

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Price: $69.95

13. Beach games

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Photo: REI

A day on the beach without games is no fun at all. Grab an Aerobie Superdisc and team up with friends for an iconic game of frisbee. This disc floats, so if your game goes into the water, it’s easy to retrieve. Its cushioned edge makes for an easy catch, so it makes a perfect game for young beachgoers too.

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Price: $10-$17.95

14. Portable speaker

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Photo: REI

Not all portable speakers are splash-proof, so purchasing one such as the JBL Clip 4 Speaker is a great shout for the beach. Although it is small, it packs a punch with great sound quality and strong bass. The speaker has an inbuilt cabana making it easy to clip to your beach shelter, chair or belt — if you desire to take the music with you. It also is Bluetooth compatible so you can stream your summer beach playlist from your device.

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Price: $69.95