15 Best Beach Snack Ideas
By Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, integrative nutrition expert, cookbook author, and consultant dietitian who works with Clif Bar & Company, LLC.
The ideas and suggestions written below are provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider before beginning any physical fitness or health- and nutrition-related activity.
Whether it’s a short day trip or a big beach vacation, be sure to plan ahead and pack strategically so you’re prepared to have a great time. You’re likely used to paying attention to sun safety with sunscreen and umbrellas, and bringing books or toys suited for optimal beach-time entertainment, but have you considered how to fuel your beach activities properly with delicious snacks? Food at the beach is an important part of a successful experience.
What Makes a Good Beach Snack To Pack?
When heading to the beach, pay close attention to a few unique factors. Can you keep cold foods cold with a cooler? Are your snacks portable and ready to eat during busy beach activities? Do you have the right variety of light and heartier snacks for all your beach-day between-meal hunger needs? Can you pack them correctly in beach-friendly and environmentally friendly containers (no glass at the beach!)? A little planning and preparation for food at the beach have big payoffs.
A good beach snack needs to be ready to eat and easy to grab and go to support all the activities going on at the beach. It also needs to be weather friendly (you don’t want sand in your snacks!) and provide essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and/or healthy fat.
What Is the Most Popular Beach Food?
Some of the most popular beach foods people often gravitate toward are not always the healthiest options (like candy, chips, and soda). These foods tend to be limited in nutrients and can cause beachgoers to experience sugar crashes or feel unsatisfied between meals.
Plan ahead to fuel a memorable day at the beach with more beneficial options like fresh or dried fruit, sandwiches or wraps, dips, pre-cut veggies, and CLIF® products. Purchase store-bought items or prepare quickly assembled options to minimize work once you’re out in the sun and sand.
Here is a list of 15 beach snacks to give you the energy you need on your next outing.
Lighter Beach Snacks
Smaller snacks are perfect if you need a quick bite to munch on while soaking up the sun with friends or relaxing under an umbrella with a good summer beach read. Choose a snack that’s easy to grab, not messy to eat, and provides 100-200 calories.
1. One Medium Apple With a Packaged Square of Cheese
Keep your apple whole rather than sliced so it’s easy to grab and go. Add a source of calcium-rich cheese for a pop of protein. Purchasing prepackaged squares of cheese (string cheese works, too!) keeps sand away from this balanced snack.
2. CLIF® Thins
At 100 calories, these thin and crispy snack bars are perfect for a busy beach day. They’re made with organic rolled oats and plant-based ingredients, and you won’t find any high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, or GMO ingredients in this perfectly portioned beach snack. CLIF Thins come prepackaged with two in each pack, so they’re an ideal grab-and-go snack to throw in your bag.
3. Baby Bell Peppers Dipped in Hummus
Protein-rich chickpea-based hummus is a light but filling beach snack that is easily dippable. To save time and the need for any additional prep at the beach, skip the slicing and go straight for a package of small, sweet peppers you can simply dip into hummus and carry with you. Be sure to keep your hummus chilled in a cooler for an all-day beach excursion.
4. Fresh Fruit Salad
All you need is a fork to keep your pre-sliced fruit out of the sand on beach day. Prep quickly at home by chopping melon, pineapple, strawberries, and kiwis for a simple, colorful fruit salad. Pack your salad in a reusable container that’s not made of glass for beach safety. If you want to simplify your prep further, use fruit you don’t have to chop like grapes, raspberries, or blackberries, and purchase pre-chopped melon to save time.
5. Homemade Snack Mix
A make-your-own snack mix should be a combination of sweet and salty. Steer clear from crumbly or sticky ingredients that could melt in the hot sun, and choose wholesome ingredients like salted air-popped popcorn, whole-grain pretzel sticks, crisp wheat cereal, cashew or peanut halves, and a touch of sweet like dried fruit. Mixed together and served out of a reusable bowl or container with a lid lets beach snackers grab a handful of crunchy goodness on their way to their next adventure.
6. Celery Dipped in 1 Tablespoon of Almond or Peanut Butter With Raisins or Dried Cranberries on Top
Slice your celery stalks into 4-inch pieces and pack them in a reusable container. At the beach, fill them with 1-2 teaspoons of nut butter by using a single-serve, squeezable nut butter pouch for ease. Carry raisins or dried cranberries in a reusable pouch on the side to sprinkle on for a craveable, sweet taste.
7. Frozen Grapes
A simple, cooling snack for hot days, frozen grapes are a sweet treat. Pop washed grapes in the freezer the night before your beach outing, then place them in your cooler the morning of. They’ll stay frozen for hours and can be easily enjoyed if you have a sweet craving at the beach.
Heartier Beach Snacks
You may need something more filling if you’re at the beach and working up an appetite with all the outdoor activities. Consider a larger snack of around 200-350 calories so you feel energized between meals.
8. Six Whole-Grain Crackers With Nut or Seed Butter Sandwiched Between
Lay out three whole-grain crackers, layer them with ½ teaspoon of peanut, almond, or sunflower seed butter, and then place the remaining three on top to create easy-to-eat cracker sandwiches. For ease of assembling, use a single-serve squeeze pouch of nut butter so they won’t make a mess.
A snack that’s easy to grab while you’re at the beach can also be more substantial for your hunger. These plant-based bars with a delicious nut-butter filling offer 7 grams of plant protein (9% DV) and 9-11 grams of whole grains. Bonus: They’re USDA organic, non-GMO, and have no high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors.
10. Trail Mix: 1 oz of Mixed Nuts Combined With 1 oz of Dried Fruit
Create your trail mix depending on your taste preferences or even your mood as you prep for a beach day. Whether you choose cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts mixed with raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries, the possibilities are endless. Package your trail mix into separate reusable baggies to easily take them on a beach walk.
11. Turkey Roll-Ups
Set your beach day up for success with protein-rich pre-sliced turkey you can easily roll into a tortilla or romaine lettuce leaf as needed. Pop a squeezable mustard and/or mayo bottle into the cooler as well for mess-free condiments for your roll-ups so you can make them as needed for hungry beachgoers on-site. Be sure to use your beach cooler to keep lunch meat and condiments chilled.
12. Energy Bites
You can make the perfect energy bites for beach snacking in minutes before you head out for the day and all you need is a food processor for blending. Mix a ½ cup of peanut or almond butter with a ¾ cup of rolled oats and then add 1½ tablespoons of honey so it sticks together and has a light, sweet flavor. Mix in additional superfood ingredients like a ⅓ cup of ground flaxseeds, walnuts, or coconut flakes for even more flavor and texture. Roll them into 1-inch balls and refrigerate them for 15-30 minutes before you pack your beach bag so they firm up and can be easily grabbed by your beachgoers.
13. Egg Salad
A high-protein, satiating beach snack, don’t forget about the easy-to-prep egg salad. Simply use four hard-boiled eggs, chopped, mixed with 2 tablespoons of mayo, a teaspoon of mustard, and a sprinkle of lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Served out of a reusable container, you can spread it onto a piece of whole-wheat toast or use a few whole-wheat crackers to scoop and enjoy. Be sure to keep this one chilled in the cooler — eggs and mayo can go bad quickly in the summer heat.
14. Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Get creative with this classic by adding more fiber and nutrition with whole-wheat bread. Look for peanut or almond butter (or try sunflower seed butter as an allergy-friendly alternative!) without added oils or sugar in the ingredients. You can use jam, jelly, or even smashed fresh raspberries for the filling.
15. Yogurt and Granola
A nutritious plain or low-added-sugar yogurt is a perfect beach-day snack to add to the cooler. Make your own granola with whole-grain rolled oats, chopped nuts, dried fruit, oil, and honey or maple syrup — or grab your favorite store-bought variety. Just be sure to pack a reusable spoon in your cooler so you can pour some granola on top of the yogurt easily without any mess or cleanup.
Set yourself up for success the next time you head to the beach so that your day doesn’t get cut short because of hunger. Having a variety of large and small snacks packed perfectly for a busy day in the sun can ensure you have a memorable summer day.