What to Wear on a Beach Vacation
If you’re going on a beach vacation you’re most likely going to be spending some time at the beach. So really there are three types of clothing and three outfit styles you need to pack for a beach vacation. Clothing such as resort wear (for times when you’re hanging around the resort), clothing for exploring, and clothing for the beach itself.
Today we’re going to cover clothing for the beach and, of course, that includes beach cover-ups. If you want more style tips and information on outfits you could wear while exploring your beach destination, make sure to take a look at my travel clothes category. In this category, I don’t just cover outfits for the beach, but outfits for various location.
If you think about the question, what to wear on a beach, the answer can be very simple. A swimsuit, of course! Not much to it. But if you’re taking the time to research and are reading this post, I think you put a little more effort into what you wear and want to be sure you’re packing the right things. Because nothing sucks more than not packing the items you need or packing everything you think you need but in the end not liking any of it.
These photos were taken at Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Mexico. This gorgeous all-villa Riviera Maya resort is located near Playa Del Carmen right on the Caribbean. The beach was the perfect backdrop for photos of swimwear and beach cover-ups.
So let’s take the beach outfit I’m wearing in this post as an example. The two-piece bikini is a bright yellow with shades of purple and white. It looks great against my skin color and has cute little gold accents which I love because they go with my gold bracelets. The hat I am wearing was primarily for sun protection, but it never hurts to be stylish, even when you’re being practical! I topped off the bikini with sunglasses, flip-flops, and a beach cover-up that matched the entire look.
As you can see, it’s not just a bikini I’m wearing at the beach, it’s a full-on ensemble.
Why You Need a Beach Cover-Up
I believe that beach cover-ups are essential, and I never go to the beach without one. Why?
Beach cover-ups protect you from the sun. While many of us go to the beach to get that lovely sun-kissed glow, too much sun exposure is a bad thing.
Excess sun exposure causes wrinkles, age spots, accelerates the effects of aging, and increases the risk of skin cancer. You can read more about the effects of sun exposure at WebMD.
A stylish way to protect yourself from the sun is with a beach cover-up. If you’re planning on spending an entire day relaxing at the beach—which is probably why you flew to a gorgeous paradise in the first place—plan on wearing a beach cover-up for at least a portion of the time.
Once you’ve spent a decent amount of time in the sun put on your beach cover-up to stay protected for the remainder of the time, or you can alternate every couple of hours between bikini only and your beach cover-up.
The necessity for a beach cover-up doesn’t end with sun protection, it’s also a very useful item. When you’re walking to and from the beach you want something to cover-up, particularly when walking through common areas like the lobby or a bar. At most resorts, your pool may be a bit of a walk, and if you don’t like walking around in just a bikini, then a beach cover-up is a must.
As I mentioned, we took these photos at the beach at the Banyan Tree Resort in Mexico. It was a 7-minute golf cart ride from our room to the beach, and more than twice that on foot. A beach cover-up was a must and is so much easier than putting and taking off an outfit.
Types of Beach Cover-Ups
So, am I starting to convince you to the fact that beach cover-ups are not only stylish but an essential?
Let’s take a look at the different types of beach cover-ups that are both stylish and offer sun protection.
Tunic Beach Cover-Ups
A tunic beach cover-up almost looks like an oversized shirt. It’s a loose-fitting garment that ends slightly above the knees and is usually short sleeved. Tunics for the beach are made of light fabrics such as chiffon, cotton, polyester, silk, or rayon. They come in a variety of colors, prints, and patterns. A lot of tunics have a plunging V-neck that will show off your swimsuit beneath. Tunics are flowy and are usually not tied with a belt, although some do have a drawstring waist.
Caftan Beach Cover-Ups
A caftan beach cover-up is an ankle-length long- or short-sleeve flowy garment. This is a variant of the tunic, which is why you’ll see a lot of retailers mark what looks like a tunic as a caftan. A caftan is a great option if you’re looking for a long-sleeve ankle-length option that offers more coverage from the sun. And, depending on the style, you can even get away with wearing it to dinner. Caftans have a very luxurious feel and I would say are the most glamorous of all the beach cover-ups. They also come in a variety of fabrics, colors, prints and patterns. You should have no problem finding one that matches your bikinis and fits your personal style.
Sarong Beach Cover-Ups
A sarong beach cover-up is the most versatile of all the options. A sarong is a long piece of fabric that can be wrapped and tied to be used as a skirt, halter dress, strapless dress (short or long), one shoulder dress, etc. The combinations are limited only by your imagination with this beach cover-up. Depending on the fabric you can even use it as a towel and place it directly on the sand while you tan.
Dress Beach Cover-Ups
Dress beach cover-ups are just as they sound; they are dresses. They can be maxi, short, strapless, spaghetti strap, halter, in a variety of fabrics, shapes and fits. They are dresses for the beach, so they are lighter in fabric and often more revealing than regular dresses because you’re supposed the have a bathing suit underneath. Having trouble deciding on a dress beach cover-up because there are sooooo many options? Just take your favorite dress style, that you wear day to day, and find a similar style as a beach cover-up.
Long Cardigan Beach Cover-Ups
This is what I’m wearing in this beach outfit. This style of beach cover-up features an open front, either long or short in length, and made of lighter fabrics than traditional cardigan sweaters. They can also have long or short sleeves. These beach cover-ups are great if you’re just going to and from the beach and you’re not going to a restaurant or walking around a beach town. They are comfortable and a little more sexy since you’re exposing your bikini. I love beach cardigans that are a little longer than a tunic and have long sleeves.
The one I’m wearing in this post had long sides so I tied the ends for a cute look. The pattern stands out and it’s a neutral so I can wear it with any bikini color.
Other Types of Beach Cover-Ups
The beach cover-ups I mentioned above are the traditional styles, but there are some other styles I should mention. There are rompers, jumpsuits, skirts, shorts, and even pants. Rompers are very cute and, at times, can even pass as an outfit. The same goes for jumpsuits. The separates such as pants, shorts, skirts, tops are what I classify as resort wear. They are great for hanging around resorts that have special resort dress codes.
Shopping for Beach Cover-Ups
When you’re shopping for beach cover-ups keep these tips in mind:
Consider what you’re going to wear the beach cover-up over. Keep in mind the colors of your bikinis and make sure the color of your cover-up matches a broad range of your swimwear so that you can wear it multiple times.
Select a style that matches your comfort and personality. If you’re the type of person that would rather fully cover-up, then a caftan might be better than a tunic. If you don’t like the idea of covering up from shoulder to toe, then you might go with a sarong or cardigan.
Pay attention to the fabric. Do you want something sheer or not? Do you prefer a fabric that completely hides your bikini or do you want a hint of your bikini to show through? How about crochet?
If you don’t go to the beach that often, consider getting an affordable cover-up. As with anything there are expensive designer options and cheap options. For cheap beach cover-ups shop at retailers like H&M, LOFT, Victoria’s Secret (on sale), and Forever 21. Prices can range from $19 to $60. For designer beach cover-ups look at Nordstrom, where prices can range from $60 to $200.
I hope this post gave you a good overview on beach cover-ups, and if you’re new to them I hope this has convinced you to get one for your next beach vacation!
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