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To state the obvious, a beach towel is a beach or pool day essential. A less often considered notion, however, is that not all towels are created equal. While functionality is the priority, something that’s also fun (or chic, or bold) can make your day in the sun a little bit brighter.
As far as features go, it all depends on your waterside style: Are you hitting the surf with your family in tow? Do you need to pack several towels or will one huge beach blanket suffice? Are you looking to stock up and stay on budget or invest in a pick that’ll last you for years? (And did you know that some materials can actually resist sand?) Luckily, there are tons of options out there, including various materials, weights, construction, and portability.
Here, the best beach towels.
Best Overall: Dock & Bay Cabana Microfiber Beach Towel
Size: Two sizes available | Material: Polyester, polyamide | GSM: 380-475 grams | Color: 18 colors available
Comes with a storage bag
Thanks to its affordability, variety, and availability, Dock & Bay’s Cabana Towel nabs the spot for our top towel overall. While we would generally recommend getting a cotton towel for ultimate absorbency and air-drying, this pick is made with a special polyester/polyamide blend that’s designed to dry three times faster than most towels and repel sand.
Because it comes in 18 different striped options —plus dozens of other motifs, including round beach blankets—there’s a style for everybody. It even comes with its own carrying bag for portability, so you won't have to mix any of the sand and surf into your beach bag.
The brand’s beach towels come in either large (35 x 63 inches) or extra large (35 x 78 inches) sizes. Plus, for an additional fee, you can even add on personalization, making it a great gift for you or a loved one.
Best Budget: Ben Kaufman Sales 100% Cotton Velour Striped Beach & Pool Towel 4-Pack
Size: 30 x 60 inches | Material: Cotton, velour | GSM: N/A | Color: Four colors available
Limited size options
Looking to stock up? Look no further. The Kaufman Striped Towel set comes with four standard-sized towels, all at an affordable price point. Made of velour cotton, these towels are weightier and have a cushier, thicker feel, making them especially ideal for use at a backyard pool. Further, the candy-colored striped options are fun and ensure that no one forgets which towel is theirs.
Best Splurge: Slowtide Sundown Oversize Beach Towel
Size: 40 x 70 inches | Material: Cotton | GSM: N/A | Color: Multicolor
Sure, towels should be functional, but they can also be a work of art. Case in point: The Slowtide Sundown towel, which features a checked pattern in sunset shades. It even has a sewn-on leather brand label to add an extra touch of luxe.
This pick is more than just good looks, however. At 40 x 70 inches, it can easily fit two or more sunbathers. Plus, It’s constructed of short loops for ultimate absorbency while you use it. Selvedge edges (stitching around the outside) ensure its durability for years to come. And, it’s made from sustainable recycled cotton so it’s better for the earth.
Best Personalized: Mark & Graham Classic Stripe Beach Towel
Size: 40 x 72 inches | Material: Turkish cotton | GSM: N/A | Color: Six colors available
Limited size options
When it comes to customization choices, it’s hard to beat a beach towel from Mark & Graham. Mixing the essence of a classic striped towel plus trendy hand-knotted tassel fringe, this towel is also made from premium 100 percent Turkish cotton. The icing on the cake is that it’s oversized, measuring 40 x 72 inches.
When it comes to customization, you can pick from six bold colors, then add embroidered initials, a name, or a message. You can also choose from a handful of fonts as well as the thread color to make it completely your own. You’ll want to create one for yourself, of course, but the towel would also make for an excellent gift.
Best Cotton: Amado Beach Towel
Size: 71 x 39 inches | Material: Cotton | GSM: N/A | Color: Five colors available
With a classic cabana stripe and 100 percent cotton construction, Matouk's Amado Beach Towel & Blanket is a must-have for any beach bag. The towel, which is finished with a stylish fringed edge, has a lightweight feel, so you won't have to worry about using a lot of energy to carry it to and from the beach.
The design is offered in five colors—red, ocean, opal, pebble, and navy—each of which can brighten up any seaside setup. Though it's available in a standard beach towel size, you can also upgrade to the beach blanket, which offers the same look and feel in a larger size.
"I have a pair of these in the color Ocean and I love how lightweight they are, which makes them easy to transport. Don't be fooled by the fact that they're relatively thin and not the typical towel texture—they're 100 percent cotton and super absorbent!"—Mélanie Berliet, Senior Vice President and General Manager
Best Oversized: Parachute Oversized Beach Towel
Size: 57 x 70 inches | Material: Turkish cotton | GSM: 380 grams | Color: Two colors available
Measuring in at 57 x 70 inches, you won’t need a beach blanket if you bring Parachute's Oversized Beach Towel along. It’s like laying a cool tasseled rug in the sand, only better, since it’s made with Turkish cotton that’s soft, absorbent, and quick-drying.
This pick is offered in two striped color combinations—white and clay or putty and white—each of which is finished with a stylish fringe detail. Although this towel is huge, it won’t weigh you down, thanks to its lightweight fabric that can be folded or rolled up compactly.
"Parachute's beach towel is everything a good beach towel should be: lightweight, absorbent, and oversized. It doesn't hurt that it's also pretty stylish, too. I've had mine for two years and love how it looks and feels. It's expensive, but the quality is good enough that you're sure to use it for many, many summers."—Nicole Lund, Commerce Editor
Best for Kids: Pottery Barn Kids Whale Stripe Baby Beach Hooded Wrap
Size: 23 x 34 inches | Material: Turkish cotton | GSM: 400 grams | Color: Multicolor
UPF 50+ protection
Limited size options
A top name in upscale gear for adults and children alike, it’s no wonder that our favorite beach towel for youngsters is from Pottery Barn Kids. This bestselling gender-neutral design has a hood (of course) and measures 23 x 34 inches, so it’s just the right size for water lovers up to 30 pounds.
While your kiddo will love the soft-to-the-touch cotton velour texture, you’ll love that it’s durable, absorbent, and OEKO-TEX certified for ultimate safety. Even better, it’s rated UPF 50+. It's machine washable too, so you'll be able to keep it in good shape with ease.
For the finishing touch, you can have it embroidered with their name in one of three fonts and three thread colors. Fighting over whose towel is whose? Not anymore!
Best Turkish: WETCAT Turkish Beach Blanket
Size: 38 x 71 inches | Material: Turkish cotton | GSM: N/A | Color: 32 colors available
Limited size options
WETCAT’s Turkish Beach Blanket wins the title of best Turkish beach towel for a few reasons. For starters, it’s budget-friendly, especially when you consider its luxe cotton material and generous size (38 x 71 inches, to be exact). It also comes in over two dozen shades and is super stylish, to boot.
But affordability doesn’t mean it lacks quality; although it’s thin, it’s soft to the touch, supremely absorbent, and fast-drying. So if you’re looking for a compact beach blanket that does it all, your search ends here.
Best Round: band.do All Around Giant Circle Beach Towel
Size: 60 x 60 inches | Material: Terry cloth | GSM: N/A | Color: 3 colors available
The All Around Giant Circle Beach Towel from ban.do really makes a splash! The citrus slice theme is a fun play on the towel’s circular shape, and fringe around the outside gives it a hint of extra zest. Measuring 60 inches all around, it’s the perfect basecamp for a beach day with friends or family.
It’s made of soft terry, so it’s especially comfy for kicking back and relaxing in the sand. Between its sprawling size and bright, bold look, this one’s a party blanket, for sure.
Best for Travel: Tesalate The Alchemist
Size: 31 x 63 inches | Material: Turkish cotton | GSM: N/A | Color: Multicolor
If the thought of soggy, sandy towels bring dread to your beach day, consider Tesalate’s towel. Designed in Australia, this pick is made fo effortless portability and will have you ready to hit the road, whether you’re headed to or from the beach.
Between its standard size (31 x 63 inches) and thin construction, it rolls up ultra compact and even comes with its own carrying case. It’s woven with AbsorbLite™ fabric, made for superior absorption and quick drying. Plus, a sewn-on loop means it can air out anywhere.
Last (but not least), the material is sand-resistant to help keep grit out of the car. If The Alchemist motif isn’t your thing, don’t worry— there are plenty of other styles to choose from as well.
Best Design: Brooklinen Moonscape Beach Towel
Size: 34 x 70 inches | Material: Cotton | GSM: 600 grams | Color: Two patterns available
For a stylish addition to your seaside look, consider Brooklinen's Moonscape Beach Towel. Designed in partnership with artist and illustrator Isabelle Feliu, the limited edition towels are offered in two scenic patterns—Daybreak and Moonscape.
The cotton designs feature a velour front and terry back, so they're soft and absorbent for a day at the beach. Thicker than Brooklinen's Classic Towel, the design features unique stitchwork that makes the towel both soft and absorbent.
"Brooklinen just came out with these limited edition scenic beach towels and I’m absolutely obsessed. They teamed up with Norwegian artist Isabelle Feliu to create not only the prettiest towels I’ve ever seen, but the softest ones I’ve ever felt, too. I’m so excited to break these out at the beach this summer."—Perri Kressel, Associate Commerce Editor
"If you're looking for a plush towel that is sure to get compliments on the beach. One side has a velour front for lounging and the back has a terry finish for drying off after a dip."—Dwyer Frame, VP
What to Look for in a Beach Towel
As a general rule, when it comes to absorbency and overall feel, cotton is king. 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 trying 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 selvedge 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.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Karen Tietjen, a freelance home writer who has contributed to The Spruce since 2019. Her work can also be found on MyDomaine. To make this list, she considered each pick's material, construction, weight, and portability, as well as editor insight.