The Best Beach Towels for Days Spent by the Water - Bob Vila

By KJ Callihan | Updated Mar 11, 2021 11:20 AM

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The Best Beach Towels for Days Spent by the Water - Bob Vila

If you have plans to hit the sand or ride the waves, you may want to give some thought to which beach towels you should bring on your trip.

Whether you’re sunbathing by the pool or lounging on the beach, having a quality beach towel is definitely an investment you’ll thank yourself for in the long run—especially when you’re soaking wet after a swim or when the sun is beating down and all you have is a folding beach chair. To help you choose the best beach towel out there, we’ve compiled a list below of some of the best.

When shopping for a beach towel, there are a few things you should keep in mind, including the material it’s made out of, its size (length and width), and its aesthetics. Read on for tips below on how to choose the best beach towel for you and your beach crew.

When it comes to beach towels, you’ll need something that’s water absorbent and comfortable. However, you’ll also want a towel thin enough to tote around and shake out at the end of the day, as thick towels get heavier when wet and can be cumbersome to carry. Although beach towels come in a variety of fabrics, water-absorbent fabrics (such as terry cloth and cotton) and soft, durable, sand-repelling materials (like microfiber and nylon) are your best bets.

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of buying a microfiber (a polyester/polyamide blend) towel, there are eco-friendly microfiber beach towels out there. In addition, there are some ways to offset this, such as washing your microfiber towels or garments in washing bags, using cold water, and washing only when needed.

GSM (grams per square meter) is a term used to describe the weight and thickness ot towels. Typically, the higher GSM, the thicker the towel. For example, a standard bath towel will range from 300 to 900 GSM, while the average cotton beach towel is typically 400 to 600 GSM. Other materials like microfiber or Turkish beach towels are typically 250 to 300 GSM. To understand GSM, here are the typical ranges:

Compared to the dimensions of an average bath towel, which is approximately 27 inches by 52 inches, the standard beach towel is about 30 inches by 60 inches, with the highly sought-after oversize beach towel being around 40 inches by 70 inches or larger.

Purchasing a larger beach towel will give you the opportunity to sunbathe, make sandcastles, enjoy lunchtime picnics, play with the little ones, or just relax. With that in mind, be sure to check packages for a towel’s dimensions before placing your order.

When it comes to design, beach towels have really evolved throughout the years. Now you can find rectangular beach towels with tassels on each end or fringe along each border, round beach towels, and brightly colored beach towels that are embellished with patterns or geometric shapes.

Because dark colors attract heat, you may want to opt for a beach towel that’s light and bright. You should also choose a color blend or pattern that’s easy to spot from a distance, just in case you wander too far from your lounging area.

If you are planning on going to the beach for the day, your towel shouldn’t be taking up too much space or be heavy enough to weight down your beach bag. For the best portability, consider microfiber or Turkish towels as they can be compacted or come with their own smart carrying case. Be advised that oversized or plush models may take up significantly more space while transporting and can be heavy if they absorb a lot of water.

Before you start putting up your beach tent, you should be able to find a beach towel that meets your needs from the list of top picks. As you browse, consider fabric, color, dimensions, design, and shape before deciding which option is the best beach towel for you.

Available in both rectangular and round styles, this towel sets the tone for a sunny day at the beach or pool. Larger than the standard size beach towel, this towel measures 70 inches by 35 inches—perfect for spreading across the sand or laying poolside beside your lounge chair for some afternoon reading or sunbathing.

This high-quality striped beach towel also comes with reinforced edges to keep it intact, no matter how many times it’s washed or tossed in the trunk for the night. It’s also available in a variety of colors, including yellow and sea glass, midnight blue and seafoam, and ocean blue and almond.

Get the Laguna Beach Textile Co. towel on Amazon.

The Rainleaf microfiber towel is smooth to the touch and boasts a long list of features. Available in six sizes and 10 brilliant colors, this microfiber towel works just as well as a beach towel as it does as a sports towel at the gym.This towel’s fast-drying quality is ideal for the beach, as is its absorbency, weight, and high-quality fabric construction.

Once it’s dry, you can fold it up and place it back into its bag (included) for simple portability or storage. Just hang it anywhere until it’s time to get it out again. Prices go up with each size, so be sure to do a price check before deciding on a size and color combo.

Get the Rainleaf microfiber towel on Amazon or at Sears.

When the sun is beginning to set and you’re ready to wrap it up, get snug with this 40-inch by 70-inch Pendleton beach towel. Suitable for either one or two people, this towel is luxuriously large. You could even use this beach towel as a blanket for sleeping or picnics.

Once dry, this oversized towel can be rolled up and transported with the carrying straps that are included. It’s crafted of cotton terry cloth; one side is designed to be extra soft, while the other side is looped to promote greater absorption. You can also choose from 19 beautiful designs.

Get the Pendleton carrier towel on Amazon.

If you’re worried about losing track of your sunbathing spot amongst busy beachgoers when you go off for a swim, these bold and bright colors might help catch your eye and guide you to your group. This striped beach towel was designed with travel in mind. It’s made of sand-repelling microfiber, so you can neatly repack it for the trip home.

It’s also quick-drying; it dries three times faster than a regular cotton towel, so you won’t need to wait long for that, either. And, while it’s largest size exceptionally big, measuring a whopping 35 inches by 78 inches, it’s only 1.1 pounds and can be rolled down into a 10-inch by 6-inch log.

Get the Dock & Bay beach towel on Amazon.

Measuring 37 inches by 71 inches, this Turkish beach towel may be a bit thin, but it’s still a high-quality, lightweight, and quick-drying option. Perfect for the beach, sauna, spa, gym, or pool, these popular Turkish towels are compact, making them ideal for travel. Available in 29 rich colors, this towel is tested to the OEKO-TEX standard to be free of harmful chemicals. It’s recommended that this towel be washed prior to use, and it may even get softer with each wash.

Get the Smyrna Classical Series Turkish beach towel on Amazon or at Sears.

Available in 22 eye-catching designs, this round beach blanket is crafted of lightweight and durable polyester material and is large enough to cover up to two people at a time. It’s quick-drying, soft, and extra absorbent, too.

Immensely versatile, this beach blanket has the potential to be whatever you need it to be, whether that’s a meditation circle or a small tablecloth. It’s also machine washable. Although it’s a little bit thicker than the average towel, it is still a suitable choice for the pool, beach, or anywhere else you may need a flamboyant towel.

Get the Polly House picnic mat beach blanket on Amazon.

With colorful, interesting prints on both sides, these microfiber beach towels are fast-drying, smooth to the touch, highly absorbent, and noticeably sand-proof. Each beach towel comes in its own mesh travel pouch for easy portability with a hanging loop for quick drying.

Once dry, when it’s time to travel, this soft towel fits back into its tiny pouch and comes out ready for the next boat trip, hike, campsite, cruise, or virtually anything else. The company names each design after a place on earth to try to capture each location’s essence through their unique prints.

Get the ECCOSOPHY microfiber beach towel on Amazon.

Share this double-size beauty from Cotton Craft with your bestie or keep all the cottony softness for yourself. Crafted from 450 grams per square meter (GSM) 100 percent cotton in a distinctly double jacquard weave, this beach towel is decadently soft and absorbent.

This striped beach towel could double as a picnic blanket or as an indoor or outdoor seating cover as well. You should be able to wash it whenever you need without worrying about the color fading out, as this great beach towel’s bold stripes should stay gorgeous for years, thanks to its deep yarn-dyeing process. It’s safe for the dryer, too.

Get the Cotton Craft Oversized beach towel on Amazon.

For larger get-togethers on your beach trip, more than one towel may be required for everyone to sit on. For a bulk option, trust the Utopia Towels Cabana Stripe Beach Towels. These four fun, colorful, and classic towels are made with 100 percent ring spun cotton and come in 10 colorways. Measuring 30 inches by 60 inches, these towels are machine-washable and highly absorbent. Plus, they are very soft to the touch for beach lounging or drying off.

Get the Utopia Towels beach towels on Amazon or at Sears.

If you are looking for a soft, absorbent, and reliable beach towel for your next small-town beach trip, the oversized Laguna Beach Cabana towel is made with 100 percent cotton, comes in 12 colorways, and comes in a rectangular or round design. Alternatively, the rectangular Rainleaf microfiber towel has a fast-drying construction, comes in 10 colorways and 6 sizes, and comes with a convenient carrying bag.

We researched the most sought-after beach towels in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their materials, shape, GSM, size, design. and other special features included by top brands.

While searching for the best beach towels, the most popular materials among users were cotton, microfiber, polyester, and terry cloth. Each of these materials is soft and absorbent for use as a quality beach blanket, gym or spa towel, or even for a picnic and the rectangular or circular towels themselves are large enough to fit 1 to 2 people. As for thickness, these towels range from 200 to 700 GSM.

As for aesthetics, many of these towels come in multiple colorways or designs, with one pick coming in over 39 different colors. Finally, some of these options are OEKO-TEX certified.

If you still have questions, we’ve listed a few common queries and their answers below.

Microfibers aren’t recyclable, and they’re known for releasing fragments into the environment when washed. These fragments do not break down and may be swallowed by marine life.

While you can use a beach towel as a bath towel, you may find that it isn’t absorbent enough. When it comes to bath time, you should probably stick with a standard bath towel.

Beach towels are wider and longer than bath towels, offering more room for spreading out and sunbathing. They’re also made to be quick drying and are less absorbent than bath towels.

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The Best Beach Towels for Days Spent by the Water - Bob Vila

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