When you were younger, you would always opt for the cheapest option. Shampoo from the dollar store, socks that came in a plastic bag, scratchy towels you bought on sale, and the like. But the older you get, the more you realize that you like to be surrounded by nice things, and the towels you bring to the beach should definitely be on your upgrade list.
Sure, you could show up to the beach carrying those nasty, worn-out towels you’ve had since college (and get ragged on by your friends for it), or you could choose one from the list of our picks for the best beach towels below and look like you truly belong on the beach. Maybe someone will actually want to sit next to you.
Urban Outfitters American Flag Beach Towel
If you can’t bring yourself to drop serious cash on a towel, this one from Urban Outfitters is a good choice. It’s under $20, and the black and white American flag pattern will allow you to show off your patriotism this 4th of July in a more understated way.
Brass Cove Reserved Beach Towel
It’s happened to everyone—you leave your lounge chair for a dip in the pool only to come back and find someone else parked there. This Reserved towel from Brass Cove—a company founded by two high school best friends—will let everyone know that you’ve staked claim to that particular spot. Even better? A portion of the proceeds from each towel goes to Splash, which helps provide clean water to kids in need.
United By Blue Kassatex Stripe Towel
United by Blue is an eco-conscious company dedicated to making quality beach wear while helping to preserve the ocean, so it’s no wonder that they’d have a quality beach towel on offer. This nautical striped towel is made from 100% organic cotton with quick-drying properties, ensuring that it’ll be your go-to towel this summer whenever you head to the beach.
Apolis Hand-Loomed Beach Towel
Founded 10 years ago by two brothers, Apolis literally means “global citizen,” which is reflected in every product they sell. This towel was handcrafted in Mumbai with 100% Indian cotton using traditional hand looming techniques and is available in blue and red—you’ll look good on the beach and support local craftsmen across the globe. Win/win.
Pendleton National Park Beach Towel
Pendleton has been around since the late 1800s, and while they’re perhaps best known for making those thick, woolen blankets with Native-American-inspired prints, in celebration of the National Parks centennial celebration in 2016, they’ve released a line of towels named for their favorite parks. This one specifically honors Rainier National Park, and will look especially nice if you’re taking a dip in a lake surrounded by mountains (or, you know, at your apartment complex’s pool).
Pendleton Jaquard Towel
Another offering from Pendleton (though not part of their National Parks collection), is this psychedelic printed towel that you can bring to the beach as well as a Phish concert.
Saturdays NYC Safari Camo Towel
Saturdays NYC is a brand dedicated to surf culture, so this towel is a good choice. Sporting a unique pattern in classy black and white, you’ll fit right in around the pool of that fancy resort that you booked on a whim.
If you want to stand out on the beach this summer, get a Vertty towel. While everyone else will be rolling out their rectangles, you’ll be laying down this uniquely shaped, brightly-colored towel that’s made with eco-friendly materials (that are quick-dry and naturally repel the sand). Another cool feature? It has a waterproof pocket so you can stash your wallet, phone, and keys while you’re taking a dip.
Nine Space x J. Crew Carmel Beach Towel
Popular textile maker Nine Space paired up with J. Crew to make the striped Carmel towel (named after the gorgeous seaside town of Carmel, California), that’s made from 100% Turkish cotton. With frayed edges and faded, beachy coloring, this is the towel that everyone will want to hang out on this summer.
Carhartt Palm Tree Beach Towel
The Carhartt brand isn’t known for being beachy—they’re known for making those indestructible jackets that your grandfather wore for 50 years. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try to branch out—and they did so excellently with this palm-tree-printed towel that will look beyond appropriate at the beach this summer.
Scotch & Soda Beach Towel
The Amsterdam-based Scotch & Soda is known for creating unique pieces for fashion-focused consumers since the 1980s, so you’re in good hands when buying a towel from them. Whether you select the orange and blue zig-zag, tropical blue pineapple print, or black and white palm trees, you’re guaranteed to look good when you hit the sand. Bonus: the towel comes with a special beach bag so you don’t have to sling a wet towel over your shoulder when you’re packing up at the end of the day.
Jonathan Adler Triangle Beach Towel
Jonathan Adler’s oversized red and blue patterned towel apes the pattern you might find on the bottom of a pool, which makes it perfect for poolside lounging.
Paul Smith Striped Towel
A lot of beach towels are garishly patterned, making you look like a crazy Jimmy Buffett fan, but this towel from legendary British designer Paul Smith will not do that. The brightly-colored stripes are relegated to the ends of the all-black towel, making you look the perfect combination of classy and carefree.
Onia Tilden Towel
Onia is Hebrew for “ship,” which makes its swimwear and beach gear offerings seem even more appropriate. This extra-large towel (available in several faded, beachy shades of red and blue) features one side that’s regular terrycloth and another water-repellent side made from the material that goes into Onia’s sought-after swim trunks. This is one beach towel that everyone will want to curl up on.
Frescobol Carioca Striped Linen Beach Towel
If you’re going to drop nearly $200 on a beach towel, it should be versatile, so we have no problem endorsing this striped linen towel from Rio-based beach brand Frescobol Carioca. Made out of lightweight linen, the towel is big enough for two, so it can double as a beach blanket as well as a sarong, if you’re that kind of guy.