Whether drying off after swimming, lounging on the sand, or laying out in the sun (with sunscreen and beach umbrella of course!), a beach towel is a summer must-have. But not all beach towels are created equal. The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab has been putting beach and bath towels to the test for years.
Our fiber scientists evaluate strength, drying time, absorbency, washability and color fastness while our consumer testers rate the towels for softness and feel. Using our expertise, we’ve rounded up our top-tested picks along with top-rated sellers across retailers and consumer favorites to find the best beach towels to keep you dry, sand-free and cozy this summer, whether you’re at the beach, pool or picnic.
To make sure you’re buying the best quality beach towel possible, there are some important beach towel shopping tips you should consult ahead of buying:
Fiber content: Typically, beach towels are made of 100% cotton terrycloth for its plush feel and absorbency, but more options are becoming available in microfiber, which has a smoother surface that shakes free of sand easily and dries quickly.
Absorbency: If you are using the towel mostly for lounging on the sand, try a sand-free pick or cozy beach blanket. A more plush, absorbent option is better suited for drying off post-swim at the pool or beach.
Quick Drying Beach Towel
After a day at the beach, you want your towel to dry ASAP, and this quick-dry towel is an Amazon best seller for beach towels. In our evaluations, we found this pick to be quick drying and sand resistant; plus, it held up great in the wash. It comes with a convenient matching carrying case too.
Stripe Beach Towels (Pack of 4)
These 100% cotton towels are plush and water absorbent at a fraction of the cost of most beach towels. Over 4,000 Amazon reviewers have given these towels five stars. Make sure to follow the care instructions and to wash before use (like any new towel). With the classic terrycloth fabric, they’ll feel like your favorite bath towels. Just about $8 per towel? Sign us up!
Oversized Woven Velour Beach Towel
If you’re heading to the beach this summer, you need this oversized beach towel. It’s the largest one we could find at a whopping 58″x68″ size, ideal for two to lounge in the sun. The 100% cotton velour fabric will feel super soft and plush. It’s available in four bright striped options and this rainbow pick is especially popular.
Thick Round Beach Towel Blanket
For the perfect beach Instagram, a cute towel is a must. This on-trend round towel has 14 cheeky patterns like anchors, flamingos and beachy florals with tassels around the edges. Made of microfiber, it is quick-drying while still being soft. With such cute designs, many reviewers also use it as a picnic blanket, wall hanging or throw. Note that this towel must be hand-washed.
Microfiber Quick Dry Beach Towel
Designed to keep you dry, this quick drying beach towel from Your Choice is made of mostly polyester with a bit of added nylon for strength. It’s available in 11 fun shades with two different sizes. Because it’s thinner than traditional terrycloth towels, it can easily be rolled up to go in its included travel case. After the beach, throw it in the washing machine for simple cleaning.
Nothing ruins a beach day like a super sandy towel. The CGear towel fixes the problem as sand instantly vanishes when you brush or shake the towel. It has a genius two-layer design that lets sand fall right through so you stay sand-free. We love that there is a carrying handle too.
Premium Hooded Towel
Nothing is cuter than your little one wrapped up in this hooded towel that features their favorite characters. With seven designs such as an elephant, dinosaur and even a princess, you are sure to find one your kid will love. Made of 100% cotton terrycloth, not only is it adorable, but also comfy to wear. Perfect for the beach or bath time, this machine washable towel will be you and your kids’ new best friend. Note that some reviewers recommended hanging to dry to prevent any damage.
Seaside Beach Towel
L.L. Bean is consistently a top Lab performer in our tests for towels, backpacks and travel gear. Made of 100% cotton, this yarn-dyed towel is made to withstand beach and pool wear without fading. The medium weight material is soft and substantial, so it’s great to wrap up in out of the water. It’s also reversible for two style options.
Tesalate towels are known for being “sand-free” after a day at the beach. They are made of a microfiber with no loops so sand can be easily brushed away. This oversized pick is perfect for the whole family to lounge on the beach together without getting sandy. Tesalate offers many fun designs and patterns so there is something everyone will love.
When spending the day on the sand, you may want a blanket to sit on instead of a towel. This pick has a durable waterproof bottom with a fleece top to avoid mess and stay cozy. Note that the fleece is on the warmer side so it’s ideal for a cooler beach day. Plus, it comes with its own carrying case, so all you need is wine and you are beach picnic ready!
When traveling, your towel should take up as little space as possible. This pick compacts tightlyinto an included carrying case to keep your load extra light. The towel is made from microfiber fabric so it’s light and quick drying. There’s a convenient snap loop for hanging and the small corner pocket that can hold all of your essentials.
School Uniform Rugby Stripe Beach Towel
When your average-length beach towel doesn’t cut it, this XL option by Lands’ End is ideal as it is 78” long instead of the typical 60″ length beach towel. It has a plush terrycloth design with shorter loops to prevent snagging, so this towel will last through many future beach trips. Reviewers love that the long length lets these towels cover lounge chairs perfectly.