Beach Towels

How to pick the best beach towels

The sun is out, the water is perfect, the breeze is steady, the waves are right, and you’re laying out on beach towels that just aren’t cutting it. It took you some effort to pick out the suit you’re now in love with, and dialing in the right beach beverage was a no-brainer. But finding towels that checked all the boxes was more of a scramble than you anticipated.

Beach Towel Resources









Why buying great beach towels can be hard 

It seems simple. Go to the store. Pick out a cute towel. Go to beach. Enjoy.

Unfortunately, there’s way more to it than that if you’re serious about getting this buying decision right.

For example, what’s your primary objective?

  • Do you want towels that dry you off well?
  • How about towels that are oversized and perfect for laying out?
  • Is round better than square?
  • Do you care more about softness or durability?
  • Are you willing to go with synthetic microfiber or will only 100% cotton due?
  • Does your cotton need to be organic?
  • Do you care more about style (who doesn’t love a cute kid in a hooded dinosaur towel?) or performance (low dying times, for example)?

The perfect beach towel

No one towel is perfect for every situation, which is why you have choices – LOTS of choices. So many, in fact, that you might need help sorting things out during the selection process.

Never fear, you’ve come to the right place!

Roadmap for buying beach towels

Here’s a quick roadmap (some may prefer the word filter) for how to buy beach towels:

  1. 1
    Select your towel material
  2. 2
    Select your primary purpose for towel use
  3. 3
    Select a style that suits your taste

Selecting beach towel material

Whether you’re buying beach towels, bath towels, kitchen towels, or just about any other kind of towel, the material choices you need to consider are the same. Here’s a quick list:

For that classic towel comfort and feel, only 100% cotton will do. Of course that cotton can be standard or organic. Then you’ve got your specific cotton type to consider. Do you prefer Egyptian, Turkish, or Pima / Supima?

Keeping in mind that while soft, dense cotton feels amazing in the store, there is a real life trade off when it comes to the amount of water (and sand!) that thick cotton will grip onto. This can increase the difficulty of getting dirty towels clean and dramatically increase drying times.

Then you’ve got up-and-coming microfiber towels. Historically these are lightweight, durable, and absorbent, but the yang to that yin is that they can feel thin and scratchy. Maybe a good choice for the kids but you’d like something a bit more spa-ish for yourself? Of course, towel engineers are doing a lot these days to create thick and plush microfiber towels that rival 100% cotton. As time goes on these synthetic towels are giving cotton a run for their money.

Since there are so many materials to consider, and the choice can feel a bit overwhelming, we’ve created the table below as a shortcut with links to in-depth articles should you choose to dive deeper.

The 5 Towel Materials & How to Choose



Dry Time


Learn More

Turkish Cotton



Egyptian Cotton



Pima Cotton






Organic Cotton




For both luxury beach towels and luxury bath towels you want to start with 100% Egyptian Cotton, 100% Pima Cotton (aka Supima), or 100% Turkish Cotton. Now here’s where the difference shows up. Spa quality cotton bath towels should have a GSM (grams per square meter of cotton) of 600 – 900, while spa quality beach towels are going to have a GSM more along the lines of 400 – 600.

A GSM of 900 is amazing when you get out of the bath but a bit bulky and heavy to drag with you to the beach, pool or boat. Keep in mind that a GSM from 300 – 400 is going to be ultra thin and relatively non-absorbent so you want to be sure and stay away from those.

Select beach towel purpose

Everyone wants a purpose – even your towels! Here are some purposes to consider:

  • Drying off
  • Laying out
  • Sand resistant
  • Comfort
  • Beauty

This isn’t an extensive list by any means but it does illustrate a point: there is no perfect towel that meets every purpose. When shopping keep your primary purpose in mind knowing you’ll have to give something, or multiple things, up to serve the primary purpose.

Select beach towel style

When the word style comes up, our minds naturally jump straight to design. Stripes, solids, patterns, cartoon characters, etc. all flash before us.

Of course you should pick something that brings you and/or your loved ones joy. Of course you should pick something that matches your personal style or represents something you stand for. But you also need to consider ‘functional style’. 

  • Are you looking for a large beach blanket to spread the entire family out on? 
  • Do you prefer round towels, square, or rectangular? 
  • Are you good with standard towels or would you like to mix it up and consider hooded towels that turn your little angels into, well, little angels or frogs or dragons?

There is no wrong choice, but there are choices that are more right than others!

Get to beach towel picking

We’ve written a ton on this subject and we now invite you to probe your heightened curiosity by reading one or more if our additional articles on the subject. See you at the beach!

I'm Emily

Welcome to Nook, my cozy corner of the internet dedicated to all things homemade and delightful. Here, I invite you to join me on a journey of creativity, craftsmanship, and all things handmade with a touch of love. Let's get crafty!

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