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When you go to the beach, your towel serves many purposes—drying you off, creating a place to lounge, nap, or picnic, and helping remove sand when you're ready to leave. We tested 35 beach towels in The Lab in Des Moines, looking at their quality, durability, texture, absorbency, and overall value in order to pick our favorites.
Our best overall pick, the Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton beach towel, proved highly absorbent and durable while still maintaining premium quality and plushy texture. This beach towel offers a high value for a relatively low cost.
Here, the best beach towels to elevate your next trip to the beach.
Best Overall: Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton Beach Towel
Large size for lounging
Super soft to sit on
Sand doesn't stick to it
A little heavy to carry
It's always great to have a big thick blanket to lounge on when you're at the beach, and the Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton Beach Towel will serve that goal and more. As our best overall beach towel, this pick offers a large surface area, plushy exterior, longevity, and enough absorbency to dry you off quickly.
Perfect for beach days, this towel is an ideal size for picnics and comfy enough to lounge on while you people-watch. Our testers noted that the bamboo cotton material is quite thick, making it a little heavy to transport, but provides significant cushioning, which is good when sitting on hard packed sand.
Cotton is known for being pretty durable, and when washed, this material didn't show any signs of wear like stray threads or rough texture. In fact, the towel got softer after washing—which is an easy process as this option is machine washable. The final test assessed absorbency, and this beach towel proved highly absorbent, leaving our testers' hands completely dry after use. Weighing these qualities with the low price—if you're looking for a new beach towel, the Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton is a solid choice.
Best Budget: NovForth Oversized Microfiber Sand-Free Beach Towel
Repels sand well
Material is thin
A beach towel doesn't have to be expensive to be high quality, and the NovForth towel gives you a soft, durable, and large surface to spread out on while enjoying the beach. Our tester for this towel is a mom of five kids who loves spending days at the beach. She loved this towel so much that she said she'd be willing to pay more than the listed price.
Though the material is on the thinner side, the microfiber is extremely soft and holds up well even after washing. Our tester found this towel to be quite absorbent and great at repelling sand—a huge bonus for someone who doesn't want sand all over the car en route home from the beach. These qualities, paired with the low price tag, make this beach towel an excellent value.
Best Personalized: Mark & Graham Classic Stripe Beach Towel
Soft and thick
Large size, like beach blanket
Not as durable as others
If you're in the market for a personalized beach towel, Mark & Graham should be your first stop. Featuring a playful design of colorful stripes and tassel fringe, this beach towel is not only adorable, but it's also premium quality. This oversized towel was a favorite among our testers, made from 100 percent Turkish cotton that's soft and highly absorbent.
As an oversized towel, this option would work well for multiple people to sit on at the beach or for one person to fully stretch out. The thick texture acts as a cushion on top of the sand, and the vibrant design options will make your towel stand out among the rest. You can completely customize this towel, choosing from a range of colors and embroidered names, monograms, and other messages. While this towel wasn't as durable as others on our list, it's still overall a good value for the price.
Best Pattern: Brooklinen Artist Series Beach Towel
Quite soft material
Thick and cushiony
Quick drying and absorbent
Durable after washing
Two textures, one not as soft
If you want your towel to stand out from others on the beach, this Brooklinen beach towel comes in three vibrant patterns sure to dazzle. In addition to whimsical designs, this towel received high scores in our tests for quality, texture, absorbency, and durability. One tester even said this towel looks and feels "elevated."
Made from cotton and other fibers, this beach towel is extremely soft with a velour feel on the front and thickness to cushion your seat while at the beach. It can dry you off quickly and absorb water instantly, making it the perfect beach companion. Built to last, this towel survived our washing test without any stray threads or noticeable wear. The only hesitation we have is with the cost, but the quality of this towel justifies the price tag.
Best Sand Free: Venture Large Sand-Free Beach Towel
Lightweight and portable
Thin, no cushioning
While the beach is a fun outing, there's always the fear of taking half of it home with you in the sand stuck to your towel, shoes, beach toys, and anything else you have to pack up in the car. With this sand-free beach towel, you can set your mind at ease. Made from microfiber, this towel repels sand, unlike the usual terry cloth option.
Our testers also loved how lightweight this towel is, although they noted that it's a little thin. That being said, its absorbency was in the same league as thicker towels, and it still successfully dried our testers' hands quickly. This beach towel is highly durable and came out of the wash with no visible damage. Add that with its soft texture and low price, and this towel is a solid choice.
Best for Travel: Elite Trend Store Microfiber Towels
Comes with a travel pouch
Soft and durable material
If you're planning a beach trip, you'll want a towel that's easy to pack, like this Elite Trend option. Sold with a travel pouch, this beach towel can be folded into the pouch for maximum portability. It also repels sand, so you can shake the towel off easily without getting sand in your beach bag.
Our testers also found the towel to be quite soft and durable, as it was fully intact after washing without any pulled threads or loose stitching. This towel can be a bit thin and doesn't provide much cushioning, but its bright design options and low cost still make it a great value.
Best Turkish: Kassatex Block Pareo Fouta Beach Towels
Premium plush feel
Turkish cotton brings a level of luxuriousness to your average beach towel, and the Kassatex beach towel is the epitome of luxury. Our tester was "thoroughly impressed by this towel." She loved the plush feeling, dual textures, and how sturdy the seams and fabric are.
During testing, this towel scored highly for its soft texture, though it's not the thickest towel on our list. It proved highly absorbent, drying our testers' hands and absorbing a bowl of water in minutes. Its large size creates the perfect amount of space for one person to stretch out or for multiple people to use as a seating area. Though expensive, this is a highly durable towel that will last you many years. "I think for the quality of this towel, it is perfectly priced. I would buy this for my next beach trip," said our tester.
Best Round: band.do All Around Giant Circle Beach Towel
Durable, no visible snags or tears
Bright, eye-catching design
Not conducive to laying down
A little pricey
The round shape makes this beach towel more of a blanket suited for multiple people to sit on. Made from terry cloth, this towel is soft to sit on, with moderate cushioning. The round shape and oversized dimensions make this a great beach towel for a picnic or small gathering.
The bright watermelon design pops against the sand in a fun and whimsical way. During our tests, this towel absorbed water quickly and maintained its quality even after washing, without any lost stitches or thread. While this towel is in the higher range of prices, we don't consider it overpriced because you're getting the quality you're paying for.
Best Organic: Pottery Barn Classic Awning Striped Organic Beach Towel
Extremely soft and plushy
Made with organic cotton
Shakes off sand easily
Heavy to transport
A little expensive
Want a beach towel that's so soft you melt into it when lying down? This Pottery Barn option will be your favorite. Our testers loved the texture and feel of this towel. Made with 100 percent organic cotton, this towel is thick, plushy, and will cushion you all day while you lounge at the beach. While the material makes it a little heavy to transport, you'll appreciate the thickness for its cushioning ability.
We found that it shakes off sand easily and holds up to washing without damage or wear during our tests. This towel also absorbed water and dried our testers' hands in seconds. Though the price is a little high for a beach towel, it's competitive with other premium options on our list, and it's a good value for what you're paying.
After testing 35 towels in the Lab, the Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton was our best overall beach towel. The Clowood beach towel is oversized, soft, and quite durable, making it a great companion for your next beach trip. If you're looking for a good deal, the NovForth Oversized Microfiber Sand-Free beach towel is also a solid option, featuring an absorbent and soft material that shakes off sand with ease.
How We Tested the Beach Towels
We tested 35 beach towels in The Lab in Des Moines to see which towels are the best of the best. Our testers started by examining the quality and assessing the texture, design, and size. Then they measured absorbency by washing their hands and using one end of the towel to dry them off. They also dipped the other end in 1/4 cup of water to see how much water it absorbed and how quickly.
After washing the towel in the absorbency test, our testers examined how well the towel held up, looking for stray seams, loose threads, and any wear and tear. Once the price was revealed, our testers weighed the value of the towel, considering each quality compared to the cost. Our editors took all of the testing data and narrowed down the list to the 10 very best beach towels.
What to Look for in a Beach Towel
As a general rule, cotton is king when it comes to absorbency and overall feel. While polyester and cotton blends may have a more velvety finish, they usually don’t soak up as much moisture as their cotton counterparts. Turkish cotton, in particular, is superior when it comes to absorbency and quick drying time. Turkish cotton towels also tend to be on the thinner side (as opposed to velour-like textures) to enhance their functionality.
Construction plays a role here, too—the shorter the woven loops, the faster the towel will dry. In terms of durability, densely woven fibers can withstand more wear and tear. For ultimate resilience, look for towels with selvage edges, meaning there’s tight stitching around the outside of the towel to prevent stretching and fraying.
Wrapping yourself in a plush towel is especially cozy after taking a dip in chilly waters, but thicker materials will take longer to dry. On the flip side, thinner towels don’t have that blanket-like feel (though good-quality ones are still buttery smooth), but they’re more likely to air out in time for you to towel off after a second swim. It just comes down to a matter of preference. The weight of a towel is measured in GSM or grams per square meter. The lower the GSM, the lighter and thinner the towel will be.
If you plan on camping out at the beach for an all-day affair, you might be fine toting a plush, super-sized towel that fits two or more (or just you and all your stuff). But if you’re planning on wading in the surf for a few hours before heading to your next adventure—or maybe you’re going on vacation and want to pack light—you’ll want to choose a more portable option. (Ditto if you’re hauling a whole stack of towels and you want them to fit in a single beach bag.)
In the latter case, opt for lightweight, standard-size towels (around 30-ish x 60-ish inches) or a thin family-sized beach blanket that can easily be rolled up and stashed in a bag. The added benefit of thinner construction is that it dries faster, too. Turkish towels are a great pick for portability, and some options on this list even come with their own carrying bag for added convenience. And if sand in your car is the bane of your existence, some towel materials can even repel sand.
How do you store beach towels?
How you store beach towels depends on what type of storage you have. If you're short on closet or shelf space, it may be useful to store beach towels in a separate area of your home—like your basement or another dedicated storage area—when you're not using them, such as in colder months.
If and when you use beach towels frequently, think strategically. You can store them with your bathroom towels or in a separate area with other swim and beach items. When it comes to how you organize beach towels, some people like to roll towels, while others prefer folding.
What size are beach towels?
Beach towels can range in size, but they're typically larger than standard bath towels (all the better for lounging on). You can expect a beach towel to be about 31 x 63 inches.
How do you wash beach towels?
Before washing a beach towel, shake it out (ideally outdoors) to remove any loose debris, like sand or dirt. Always follow the care instructions on the tag of your beach towel to avoid issues like color bleeding. Many towels can be washed in a load of laundry with a heavy-duty detergent that effectively breaks apart soil and stains. Use a regular wash cycle, followed by a normal dry cycle.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Madison Yauger, a commerce writer with expertise in many lifestyle topics. Her work can be found on Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, and The Spruce. To make this list, she weighed all of the testing insights, as well as reviews and other data, and formed a list of the best 10 beach towels.