beach food picnic
Make sure olives are pitted

Going to the beach is supposed to be relaxing, but sometimes planning for a day of doing nothing can be surprisingly stressful. Your whole beach crew needs sun protection, a prime spot on the sand, and of course, the perfect beach food. That last item can get a little tricky: some foods are better suited for the beach than others. To make relaxing a little easier, here’s a rundown of the best foods to bring to the beach. 

To be a good beach treat, a snack needs to check a few basic boxes. The key elements of an oceanside lunch are: 

A beach food needs to travel well

From cooler, to car, to shore, it might be hours from when you pack your lunch to the time you dig in. The best beach foods should be able to hold up to the heat, and maybe even improve as they sit. This means no temperature sensitive items. Sorry, but poke is off the menu. 

Find a snack that doesn’t produce trash

The goal here is to make things easier. You don’t want to spend your day at the beach keeping track of wrappers or other refuse, and you certainly don’t want to leave anything behind on the pristine sands. If you plan ahead, this should be easy to solve for. Just pit any cherries before you pack them, slice a watermelon and discard the rind, and avoid individually wrapped snacks. 

Focus on refreshing foods

Hours out in the heat can be depleting, even if you’re just lounging. Fresh foods with a high water content, and salty foods to replace lost electrolytes will keep you frolicking in the waters all afternoon. Of course, we can’t deny the pleasure of a stealthy glass or rosé or a pre-made cocktail, even if it makes you a little sleepy. Just make sure to bring along plenty of water. 

Highly recommended: 

Pre-cut fruit 

Some fruits will travel better than others. Raspberries are lovely, but are a little delicate for the beach. Strawberries with the tops trimmed off will transport well and be easy to eat. Be sure to remove any pits or peels before packing your fruit, lest you be burdened with scraps to throw away. Sliced apples may oxidize slightly, but will still be fine to eat. If you don’t like the appearance of browning, toss them in lemon juice before packing. Grapes are also a great choice.

watermelon is a good beach food

Potato chips 

Any chip will work, but potato chips are the perfect salty treat to satisfy cravings and encourage you to drink water. They’re also delicious on their own, which means you don’t have to fuss with any potentially messy dips or salsas. 

Cheese and crackers

If you’re aiming for a sophisticated vibe, throw some soft cheeses in a cooler. They’ll keep well, and are delicious at room temperature. Be sure to pack the requisite tools. Having a knife, plate, and napkins will make things infinitely easier. 

Pressed sandwiches

Eventually, you may crave a more substantial meal. That’s when it’s time to bust out the sandwiches. When packing the perfect beach sandwich, the secret is in the bread. A sliced sandwich-style bread can get soft and soggy over time. A hearty baguette or ciabatta will absorb flavors and only grow more delicious. A pressed sandwich like a cuban or a pan bagnat is the ultimate travel hero; even if it ends up squished under a book, it will just enhance the flavor.