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The essential guide to a perfect beach picnic

Written by Alexandra Liddy


Posted on March 21 2019

It doesn’t get more Summer than a day spent by the beach - but if you’ve always put it in the too hard (picnic) basket, we’ve compiled our favorite easy beach picnic ideas. From food to take, to what to bring, our tips for the ultimate beach picnic will make sure it’s a breeze.

Food. Friends. Sunshine.

Ideally, for a beach picnic you want food that you can prepare at home in advance. Less prep time at the beach means less sand in your lunch!

One of our favorite no-fuss options is a salad in a jar - you can get really creative with these, but if you’re stuck for ideas these always work well: 

  • Chicken salad in a jar - layered with grains like black or wild rice, char-grilled marinated vegetables, barbecued or poached chicken and a simple slaw. A great variety of flavors and textures
  • Vegetarian layered salad in a jar – try a grain like quinoa on the base, grated vegetables like carrot and beetroot, tzatziki and canned chickpeas or roughly crumbled falafel
  • Fruit salad in a jar – a sweet, layered salad, try fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, grapes, chopped orange and watermelon. They store for a couple of hours a little better than fruit like pear and apple that can start to brown

salad in a jar recipe beach picnic
You can assemble the salads a few hours or even a day beforehand and keep them in the fridge; just make sure you add the dressing right before eating so they don’t get soggy.

When you're ready to head out the door, pop them in a cooler bag and they'll be fresh and tasty when it's time for lunch.

salad jars beach picnic

Baguettes and sandwiches are other easy options that you can prepare before leaving the house. Try using a variety of breads and rolls, whether white, grain or rye, available at delis or supermarket bakeries like:

  • French baguette sticks
  • Rustic loaf/sticks
  • Sourdough
  • Ciabatta
  • Turkish
  • Focaccia

Dense style bread and loaves like those suggested above work well as they don’t become soggy too quickly. Wraps and pita pockets are good too, but if filled with wet fillings such as tomato or cucumber they can tend to soften quicker if not eaten for a few hours.

beach picnic sandwich

Need a little inspiration for filling your loaf? Here are our picks:

  • Smoked ham, potato salad, wholegrain mustard and arugula
  • Turkey, tomato, arugula, avocado and basil mayonnaise
  • Salami, cheddar cheese, tomato, baby spinach and pesto
  • Pastrami, caramelized onion relish, swiss cheese and mixed lettuce
  • Roast or poached chicken breast with lemon mayonnaise, romaine lettuce and avocado
  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese, baby spinach, cornichons and sweet onion
  • Ham, brie, tomato chutney and mixed lettuce
  • Crumbed chicken, mayonnaise, dill pickle and romaine lettuce
  • Char grilled marinated vegetables like zucchini, eggplant and red pepper with tzatziki or hummus, arugula and feta
  • Roast beef, sweet onion, semi dried tomato, wholegrain mustard and baby spinach

If you’re using cheese, meat, seafood or mayo in your sandwiches, make sure to place them in a cooler bag next to an ice pack or pre-frozen water bottle, to ensure they’re fresh and ready to eat, when you are.

Relaxing can really work up an appetite... 

beach picnic cheese board

If you’re planning to stay at the beach a little longer, it’s a good idea to pack a little extra something - this could be as simple as some watermelon or veggie sticks, or you could add a little more luxury with a simple cheese platter and a bucket of shrimp and lemon wedges. Keep these alongside an ice pack or bottle of frozen water in your cooler bag so they don’t spoil while you’re lounging about. 

So now that the food’s sorted, what else should you pack for a beach picnic? Our list of essentials will make sure you’re prepared for every eventuality, so once you arrive at your preferred picnic spot all you need to do is relax and enjoy! 

  • A cutting board (or small bread board)
  • A small knife (preferably serrated), and cheese knife (if serving cheese)
  • Cutlery
  • Salt and pepper
  • A cooler bag 
  • Bottles of partially frozen water (if bringing food like cheeses or cured meats, pack these next to the frozen water so they don’t sweat before serving)
  • Cloth napkins
  • Bottle opener
  • A torch (if planning a twilight picnic)
  • Picnic blanket (preferably waterproof), table cloth or beach towels
  • A damp tea towel or wet wipes
  • A disposable bag for any rubbish
  • A bag for packing any plates or cups that have been used – if the items cannot be rinsed at the picnic location
  • Sun cream and insect repellant, if needed
  • Hats (and if you’re at the beach, a beach umbrella)
  • Thermos and mugs for cooler weather
  • Games – something easy and fun like bocce, croquet or paddle ball
  • If you’d like a little luxury, some large throw pillows or portable beach chairs will make lounging for hours more enjoyable, while adding some style to your setup

 beach picnic essentials

So now all you need to do is grab a group of friends together and head to your nearest beach...and enjoy!

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