painless shopping

The Best Beach Towels Are Round

Photo: Courtesy of the Retailer

The first time I saw a round beach towel was last summer, at Rockaway Beach, when I laid eyes on this Ban.do one, printed to look like a cross section of a watermelon. I immediately wanted one. Did I need it? No. Did I consider buying it anyway? Absolutely.

Unbeknownst to me, this watermelon was part of a growing craze on Instagram (see the thousands of posts under the hashtag #roundbeachtowel for yourself). You could say that the round-beach-towel trend first took off when a collection of round towels from Australian brand the Beach People — or “roundies,” as the brand likes to call them — sold out in weeks following their launch in 2013. After the Beach People’s roundies went viral, spherical beach towels started popping up everywhere, from local brands like Kassatex, dedicated round-towel companies like the Round Towel Company, and even at Target (where they debuted some in collaboration with Marimekko).

And with millennial brand Ban.do starting a micro-trend last year of watermelon round towels, specifically (the design is so popular that it’s been reproduced by H&M, plus retailers on Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond — it’s basically ubiquitous if you search for round beach towels), an entire range of food-related round towels has followed: sushi rolls, pizza, grapefruit slices, and doughnuts.

There’s no real practical argument to make for the round beach towel. Sure, they’re roomy, sort of like beach rugs — you could reasonably fit two or more people on there if you intended to sit picnic-style instead of laying out — but mostly they’re fun and charming. And at the beach, that’s really all that matters. Below, we perused all the round beach towels online to find the best patterns and styles out there.

One of the roundies that started it all — in a colorful marine print.

A muted, stripy version (if you’re not so big on prints).

An intricate printed towel from John Robshaw with pop-pom details.

Colorful bull’s-eye stripes if you’re a loud-patterns person.

A more affordable lemon slice.

Or a nice polka-dotted beach pattern.

Should you actually want to feel like you’re sunbathing on a rug.

Or just prefer an antique floral print.

Leopard print, if you occupy your own distinct category of animal-print enthusiast.

This one can be personalized with your initials, if you so choose.