For many of us, a summer beach trip is a well-deserved escape from the ordinary. However, it’s the novelty of the experience that can also leave you feeling a bit out of practice when you’re packing your suitcase. To ensure your pre-vacation preparation is as seamless as the getaway you’ve planned, we’ve compiled the latest and greatest fashions and accessories to send you to the sand in style. From the best summer reads to sun-protective hats, here’s a round-up of practical and trendy beach day essentials.

1. Top-Rated Sunscreen

A woman applies sunscreen to her leg

First things first: don’t ruin the perfect beach vacation with a painful sunburn. Protect your skin from harmful UV rays with a sunscreen lotion or spray. Every year, Consumer Report tests countless products to create their Best Sunscreens of the Year report. Try their top rated Equate Sport Lotion SPF 50 or Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut Clear Spray SPF 50.

Your choice in sunscreen can also protect the environment. If you’re traveling to or live in an area with coral reef, pay attention to the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate — two UV-blocking chemicals that can harm underwater ecosystems. Both Hawaii and the Florida Keys banned the sale of sunscreens with these ingredients. Look for the Reef Safe label and be aware of how even “reef safe” lotions can affect the ocean.

2. 100% UV-Blocking Sunglasses

Your skin isn’t the only thing that needs protection from the sun — your eyes can get sunburnt too. The single-most important thing to look for when buying sunglasses is that they provide 100% UV protection by blocking both UV-A and UV-B rays. Polarized sunglasses reduce glare, not UV rays, so if you’re buying polarized shades, make sure they’re also UV blocking. We’re loving this season’s retro round and angular cat-eye styles.

3. Beach Wrap

From classic beach sarongs to trendy crochet dresses, cover-ups are beach day essentials that effortlessly takes you from lounging on the sand to dinner on the boardwalk. This summer’s beach coverup trends are both stylish and versatile.

4. The Perfect Beach Chair

Two people lounge on beach chairs by the ocean

These days, there are endless options for beach chairs, so look for the features you need. Backpack straps so you can carry it from the parking lot to the beach? A cooler pouch for your beverage? An umbrella to shade you from the sun? It’s all here in this round-up of the best reviewed beach chairs.

Of course, if you’re headed to Malibu this summer, leave your chair at home. Guests at Malibu Beach Inn enjoy complimentary lounge chairs on the sand with access to Carbon Beach Club’s food and cocktails.

5. Beach Towel

A towel is a beach day essential for all. It’s there for you when you need to dry off after a dip in the water, and as a blanket when the temperatures start to drop in the afternoon, and serves as a lounging surface or pillow while relaxing. We like these oversized, sand-free and quick-drying options.

6. Sun Protective Hat

Woman wearing a sun hat at the beach

Both fashionable and functional, a sun hat offers an extra layer of protection against the sun’s skin-damaging UV rays. If you’re looking for ultimate protection, Prevention says go wide, with a brim of at least 4 inches so it shades your face, neck, eyes, and ears. Have fun with this summer’s fashion trends, from retro bucket hats to sophisticated straw fedoras.

7. Koozie for Your Beverage

On hot summer days, keep your beverage ice-cold with one of these insulated, sweat-proof koozies. There are a variety of colors and materials to choose, from pale purple stainless steel koozies designed specifically for your slim seltzer can to the classic foam covers that you surely have in your junk drawer.

8. Cooler Bag

We all know a cooler is a beach day essential, but big, hard plastic coolers can be heavy. Soft cooler bags offer a similar volume with less weight to lug. Check out Yeti’s soft coolers if you’re looking to splurge, or try Rtic for a more affordable option.

9. Adult Floaties

A pink flamingo floatie wades in the ocean

Chances are, you’ve witnessed some elaborate adult pool floaties in your social feeds this summer. Or was that you on the giant pink flamingo? While it’s not the most practical of beach day essentials, we think 2021 deserves some fun. Wade in the water in one of these over-the-top inflatables for maximum enjoyment.

10. Portable Waterproof Speaker

Once you’ve had enough time with your thoughts and the sound of crashing waves, turn up the party with a portable waterproof speaker that connects to your phone through Bluetooth. Don’t forget to create the perfect playlist ahead of time.

11. The Summers Best Beach Read

Books and sunglasses laid out next to the beach

When else can you read an entire book in one sitting? These best beach reads range from page-turning thrillers to summer-time romances. While we might be bias, we’re raving over Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, a captivating story set in 1980s Malibu.