The first day of summer is nearly upon us, and we’ve pulled together all the best accessories, appliances, and advice that’s run on the Strategist, from the windproof beach umbrella and comfiest beach tent to the very best sunscreens and coolest cheap sunglasses. Think of us as your cheat sheet before you hit the water this summer — or just spruce up your home and closet.
Best beach umbrellas
The best beach umbrella is this World War II–era beach umbrella, but if you’re looking for other (cheaper) options, here are some great ones we found.
Best beach chairs
Need a beach chair? We found the best beach chairs (whether you want something fully reclining, canopied, or complete with a cooler), according to the very enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon — including this one with over 5,000 reviews.
Made in America with ultradurable aluminum and hand-carved wood, our pick for the best beach chair is Telescope Casual’s Original Mini-Sun Chaise. It’s a bit splurgy for a one-season chair, but it’ll be hard to lounge on anything else after you’ve spent a summer with the “Rolls-Royce of beach chairs.”
Best beach tents
Strategist editor Alexis Swerdloff wasn’t a huge fan of the beach until she discovered this beach tent, which impressed her for its lightness and easy set-up. (While you’re at it, click through to scout out other exceptional, highly rated beach tents.)
Bianca Buchanan, a dental hygienist who has been visiting different New York beaches weekly every summer for the past 16 years, shared her recommendations for the city’s best beaches as well as everything you need to enjoy your beach day, including this lightweight canopy. “It looks like a tarp held down at the corners by sandbags, which you fill with sand when you get to the beach,” she writes. “It’s great in the wind and keeps you cool underneath. And when the sandbags are empty, each tent weighs just four pounds.”
Here are a dozen excellent coolers — including soft, plastic, and floating options — for your perusal, courtesy of enthusiastic Amazon reviewers, including this sturdy, retro-looking one from Coleman.
Best picnic gear
We enlisted potlucking expert and author Ali Rosen to guide greenhorn picnickers through the gear they need for the perfect outdoor eating experience, including this all-in-one picnic basket.
Best portable speakers
What’s a beach day or a picnic without music? We found the 13 most highly rated speakers on Amazon for your listening pleasure. According to reviewers, this one from Anker has an especially long battery life.
Best beach carts
Shlep your beachy goods with ease: These beach wagons come certified by vacationers and beachgoers on Amazon to lug around the other Strat-approved items on this list, including this collapsible one with over 6,000 reviews.
Best beach bags
Not looking for a family-size hauler? We looked through reviews on Amazon to find all of the best bags and totes that’ll make beach-going a breeze, like this mesh one with lots of pockets.
Best bathing suits for women
We asked more than a dozen stylish women to recommend their favorite two-piece bikinis — high-waisted, thin-strapped, frilly, and many others — including this colorful bandeau.
For a less expensive option, writer Marjon Carlos recommends this monokini from Icon Swim. “Immediately the high leg made me feel a foot taller, while my hips and ass practically alchemized to form the ‘S curve’; fastening an accompanying gold link belt around my waist, I was snatched.”
Best plus-size women’s swimsuits
It turns out that Amazon is a treasure trove of plus-size swimsuits for women, and two writers have called out this galaxy-printed bikini as a favorite for making a splash. However, we’ve also got picks for more subdued patterns.
Best sun hat
Alice Gregory discovered this sun hat–slash–fan while walking through Soho. “You open the fan further and further until the bamboo slats begin to strain, and then right before you think the contraption is about to break in half, you — very quickly — hook both sides to one another, closing the circle,” she writes. It’s “compact and dual purpose (fan plus hat), and the chin lanyard ensures it doesn’t blow off in the wind.”
Best swim trunks for men
In our survey of stylish beach fanatics and hotel-pool aficionados (including one surfer), we found 15 excellent pairs of swim trunks for men, including these Patagonia Baggies, which were described by one of our experts as “something of a summer staple.”
Best women’s sandals
Sometimes, you just need a pair of basic sandals — Birkenstocks or Clarks (or, gasp, Crocs) — to get you through the summer. These Amazon-approved choices will do the trick, including this pair of sandals that Fiorella Valdesolo says strangers think are from Margiela.
Best water shoes
If you’re not willing to let your feet brave the hot and cold of the beachside (or lakeside) elements, here’s a roundup of breathable, waterproof, and plush water shoes for women that you can buy on Amazon — including these sturdy ones from Keen that one reviewer wore on a trip to the Galapagos.
Best swim goggles
Swim goggles are great for the pool, but they’re just as useful for beachgoers looking to prevent exposing their eyes to saltwater. Here, we spoke to swim instructors, coaches, and competitors to get some insight on the best swim goggles — nearly all of whom recommended these from Speedo.
Best SPF leggings
Writer Molly Young wears these SPF leggings while surfing, and whenever she wants to protect her bottom half from the sun without slathering on sunscreen. She explains: “They feel good in the water and look cute on land. The wide waistband means you can pull them up to keep your goods tucked in or scrunch them low on your hips. They are soft and machine washable. They dry in two seconds.”
Best stand-up paddleboards
If you’d rather paddle out on calm water than surf a wave like Molly, you can buy an inflatable stand-up paddleboard on Amazon.
Best pool floats
If you’d rather lie in a pool than engage in any serious water activities, we found the best-reviewed pool floats on Amazon, according to leisure enthusiasts, including this lobster-shaped one that one reviewer admits, “got some STRANGE looks in Waikiki, let me tell you!”
Best inflatable boats
For those who can hear the open water calling their name this summer, but don’t want to spend a ton of money on watercraft, there are a surprising number of inflatable boats available on Amazon, like this two-person kayak.
With health- and environmentally conscious beachgoers in mind, we looked into the best natural, mineral-based sunscreens available on Amazon, including this Sun Bum sunscreen with over 2,000 reviews.
Best moisturizers with SPF
If you’re reluctant to slather good ol’ sunscreen on your face, we rounded up the best moisturizers with SPF on Amazon, according to hyperenthusiastic shoppers. This one from Simple got lots of positive reviews from those with sensitive skin, especially for the price.
Best insect repellents
If you’re trying to avoid ticks this summer, try spraying your socks, shoes, shorts, and even gardening gloves with permethrin, which is the most effective tick repellent according to experts.
Amazon shoppers are fans of these fans, including this tower fan with over 8,000 reviews.
If you’re looking for a smaller fan to put on a desk or nightstand, here’s our pick for the best-reviewed desk fan on Amazon (though we’ve also rounded up ten other options, if you want a different style).
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
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