18 Random-But-Useful Finds to Take Pool and Beach Days to the Next Level

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Swimsuit, sunscreen, a Coastal Grandmother-approved Lululemon bucket hat—you’ve got the essentials covered, but you can’t quite shake the feeling like you’re forgetting something. We hear you, which is why we’ve polled everyone we know to uncover the unexpected must-haves for a day by the water. Because you deserve an afternoon that’s sunburn and sand-in-your-bikini-bottoms free, dammit.

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random but useful beach days

1. Solar Buddies Refillable Roll-on Sunscreen Applicator

Wrangling kids into bathing suits is enough of a workout; make applying sunscreen just a bit easier with this thingamajig. Fill it with your go-to SPF, twist on the cap, then use the roller sponge to easily rub it on. The applicator is refillable, and it holds 3.4 ounces, making it OK to toss in your carry-on ahead of your next trip.

random but useful beach

2. Wellax Extra-large Beach Blanket

At 118 by 108 inches, this blanket is larger than a California King-size bed, meaning you don’t have to stitch together half a dozen beach towels so everyone can hang out together. It’s made from heat- and water-resistant nylon, so it won’t get scorching hot under the sun (oh, and sand won’t cling to it either). Plus, it comes with stakes to keep it in place, and it folds up to fit in one hand.

random but useful beach freewell

3. Freewell Power Gloss And Bamboo Comb Travel Kit

If you regularly hit the pool, you’ll want to keep this gloss handy. Coat your hair, pull it back and let it work its deep treatment magic while you swim. You’ll have that Robert Palmer slicked-back look all day, but best of all, it’ll keep your hair from drying out, and the golden jojoba oil will help balance your scalp’s natural oils.

random but useful beach coverup

4. Anthropologie Silvana High-low Cover-up Dress

Remember when Jennifer Lopez rocked a Doen nightgown as a dress, making us all wish we could roll out in our PJs looking so chic? This Anthro cover-up look is the beach version of that dress. You don’t have to worry about it wrinkling, and if your post-surf plans include dinner nearby, you’re resort-ready (and practically J.Lo-approved). P.S.—It’s 49 percent off right now, too.

random but useful cup holders

5. Beach Vacation Essentials Cup Holders

You need a place to rest your drink without it tipping over—or getting all sandy. That’s where this seven-pack of cupholders comes in handy. Each person can choose a color to remember whose drink is whose, and when you’re done, they’re stackable for easy storage.

random but useful beach floaty

6. Floaty Mini Inflatable Unicorn Cup Holder

Unicorn floats aren’t over; they’re just miniaturized. This lil’ guy will ensure your drink’s within arm’s reach while you’re lounging in the pool, and (bonus!) our commerce editor says it actually helps keep your drink cold.

random but useful beach bag

7. Business & Pleasure Cooler Tote

Is it a cooler? A tote? Can’t it be both? In this case, it totes can (c’monnn). The recycled plastic lining is easy to wipe clean, and it’s roomy enough to hold, well, just about everything listed here. Or four bottles of wine. Whatever your priorities are.

random but useful beach paddleboard

8. Retrospec Inflatable Paddleboard

Yes, it’s inflatable, but it’s surprisingly sturdy. And the whole thing—pump and oar included—collapse to fit in a backpack (a large one, but still). It’s best for lakes, gulfs and calmer waters, unless you want a serious core workout navigating choppier waves.

random but useful beach quay

9. Quay Collapsible Sunglasses Case

Space is at a premium in any beach bag, but you need to protect those sunnies. This tri-fold case is sturdy, yet, when empty, collapses to be as thin as a couple of credit cards. (Not to mention Quay sells the style in 20 different colorways, so you can choose the look that best matches your aesthetic.)

random but useful beach buckets

10. Collapsible Sand Buckets

If you’re sensing a space-saving theme here, you’re right. We’re all about these collapsible buckets, which let kids build the sandcastle of their dreams…without overtaking the backseat of your car.

random but useful beach cabana

11. Sunnylife Beach Cabana

We love the sun and all, but sometimes it gets to be a bit too much. One person can set up this impressive cabana, which can fit up to four people (two adults, two kids, if we’re being realistic). The fabric features a UPF 50 coating, and the roof has an air vent, so the breeze can circulate without blowing your tent away. Or at least be less likely to.

random but useful beach sling

12. Big Joe Noodle Sling

There are a ton of gigantic pool floats out there, and they’re great for the ‘gram. When you really want to lounge comfortably—without scorching yourself on plastic—opt for this noodle sling. It’ll cradle you like an armchair, keeping your body underwater from the chest down, so you can stay cool no matter how high the temps get.

random but useful beach oil

13. Vacation Chardonnay Oil Spf 30

Part of the allure of tanning oil is the radiant sheen it gives you…but do you really want to fry under the sun? Vacation’s sunscreen oil gives you that glow, while protecting you with a reef-safe, dermatologist-approved SPF 30 formula. It, too, comes in a TSA-friendly 3.4-ounce size, though it’s probably a little too runny for the Solar Buddies roller applicator.

random but useful beach corkcicle

14. Gray Malin X Corkcicle Tumbler

OK, OK, so your pool is really a 48-inch inflatable in your backyard. Give yourself the resort vibes you deserve with a Gray Malin x Corkcicle stainless steel tumbler. It features the photographer’s dreamy aerial shots, but best of all, it’s triple-insulated, so your drink will stay icy for at least nine hours.

random but useful beach cooler

15. Igloo Trailmate Journey 70-quart Cooler

Finally, a cooler with tires that can actually roll through the sand. This beast of a drink holder is designed to glide over all terrain, so you can take it camping too, and it features eco-friendly insulation, bottle openers, and an attachable butler tray with cupholders, effectively letting the gadget double as a table.

random but useful beach chair

16. Martha Stewart Backpack Beach Chair

It’s a Homegoods score you don’t have to scour every store within a 20-mile radius to find. (Victory!) Especially when you consider this cute, pineapple-print chair features a head/neck pillow, an organizer pouch and two cupholders—all for half the price of some other backpack beach chairs on the market.

random useful beach shorts
IVF Collective

17. Race Pace Shorts

Whether you're paddle boarding, playing beach volleyball or chasing the kids, sometimes you just want a little more coverage than bathing suit bottoms or boy shorts. That's where these boxer shorts come in—they're breathable and lightweight (so they'll dry quickly), yet the liner underneath keeps 'em from riding up. No wedgie-picking here.

random but useful beach vacuum

18. Thisworx Car Vacuum

No matter how well you brush yourself off and how many towels you coat your seats with, sand will get everywhere. What better way to justify spending $35 on this Tiktok-famous car vac? It comes with a full car detailing kit, if you want to go all out post-surf.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...