Are you the type who makes do with a regular bath towel? Or have you been using the same old brittle beach towel for far too long? Either way, it's probably time to upgrade, and trust us – you'll be glad you did.
Whether you're looking for a thick, luxury towel, a cheap yet fun pick for kids or a lightweight microfibre towel for travel, our guide is here to help you choose. We've included our favourite products on sale at Amazon and John Lewis featuring large and round designs as well as sets of classic Turkish towels. It's time for some sun, sea and sand!
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A natural material traditionally used for towelling throughout the world, there's no doubt that cotton is the best choice. Soft, fluffy, and absorbent, it also dries relatively quickly, which is handy for sitting on your towel after swimming or when packing it away in a bag.
However, cotton does fray over time and a cotton beach towel may become slightly stiffer after multiple washes. It can also be more expensive than synthetic materials like polyester or polyamide, but being a natural fabric, it is more environmentally friendly and more breathable on the skin.
Consider opting for sustainably sourced or BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) cotton, as this has more stringent regulations in place to ensure better conditions for cotton producers and more protection for the environment and community it's produced in.
A newer, and sometimes more affordable alternative to cotton is the microfibre beach towel. Manufactured from man-made fibres, often a blend of polyester and polyamide, the ends are split making them extremely absorbent and capable of drying much faster than other types of towels.
Microfibre is even more durable than natural fibres, very lightweight and able to be packed down very small – perfect for beach camping, travelling or even the gym. However, it has to be said that although microfibre creates a soft beach towel, it doesn't feel quite as luxurious or comfortable as cotton and tends to look a little cheaper.
Some beach towels are not described as microfibre but are made from polyester and polyamide or recycled post-consumer plastic. These towels will have the same quality and texture as microfibre even if it's not mentioned, so it's always a good idea to check the materials list if you specifically want a certain one.
Not all beach towels have a specific GSM in the product description, but it's a sign of quality when they do. GSM (standing for grams per square inch) is a measure of weight and thickness, and in terms of beach towels, you'll want to pick a medium thickness that goes from around 400 to 600 GSM.
Towels with a medium GSM are soft and absorbent without being too thick or heavy, ideal for a beach or summer bath towel. If you're looking for a beach towel that's also suitable for camping or travelling, you'll probably want to choose the most lightweight and compact option possible, but bear in mind that many travel towels don't state a GSM.
As mentioned, microfibre towels can be very lightweight and compact which makes them easier to pack away in a bag. Due to this benefit, many synthetic or microfibre beach towels actually come with a bag or pouch, so keep an eye out for these.
Even some decorative beach towels come with a handy pouch in the same print, perfect for some seaside accessorising. If you're going for a multipurpose towel that's more about function than style, choose one that comes with its own bag or portable case, which is really handy for travelling or longer walks to those hidden beach spots.
On the subject of travelling and packing check out our guide on the 10 best large suitcases to take on your next holiday.
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John Lewis & Partners
Block Stripe Beach Towel
Bring Warmth and Colour With Gorgeous Sunset Hues
Dock & Bay
Cabana Quick Dry Beach Towel
Daydream of a Tropical Island With This Palm Print Option
Striped Beach Towel
A Practical And Sustainable Cotton Towel
Personalised Striped Cabana Style Beach Towel
A Personalised Lightweight And Absorbent Microfibre Towel
Dock & Bay
Cabana Quick Dry Beach Towel
A Clever Sand-Free Towel With a Matching Case
John Lewis & Partners
Whale Beach Towel
A Cute Design Made From BCI Cotton
Microfibre Beach Towel
Up Your Sunbathing Game With a Circular Beach Towel
Turkish Cotton Towels
A Peshtemal Fouta-Style Towel Set in Four Colours
260 Beach Towel
Lightweight and Compact but Still Impressively Absorbent
Microfibre Travel Towel
Super Portable and Comes in a Wide Range of Colours
In at number one we have this gorgeous striped towel by John Lewis which comes in pink or blue. While the blue option has a classic seaside feel, we fell in love with the pink which has a warm combination of hues that remind us of a beautiful sunset.
Perfect for those of us who aren't into blue but still want something with beachy vibes, this towel provides excellent quality on all counts. Made from 100% BCI cotton, it is soft and absorbent with a 420 gsm weight – ideal for the beach and to be used as a bath towel as well.
From their successful pitch on Dragon's Den to their selection for the Sunday Times One to Watch list, Dock & Bay's products are everywhere, and for good reason. Their range of innovative, high-quality and sustainable towels are designed for the beach, travel and sport and we can't get enough of the Palm Dreams Cabana towel.
Made from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic, this towel is quick-drying, compact and lightweight with a handy hook too. We love that Dock & Bay towels come in a large pouch with a drawstring fastening, making them great for travel.
Sunbathe in style and comfort on the beach or poolside with this uniquely designed towel. Made sustainably from reused cotton this towel has an integrated inflatable cushion for your head to rest on along with a sewn in pocket for all your valuable items.
Easy to carry the towel is lightweight and can be rolled up and secured with its wrap around band. Yellow and white with the brands logo and tasseled fringe detailing, this towel is the perfect stylish accessory for the beach, especially for the eco-conscious.
Personalise this fun striped cabana-style beach towel with an embroidered name or phrase of your choice. The customised embroidery is completed in the UK workshop. Made from premium quality microfibre the towel is highly absorbent, dries quickly and designed to be sand-free.
A great gift for the intrepid traveller in your life, this lightweight towel can be rolled up and held together with its looped elastic bag making it compact, easy to pack in your suitcase and to carry to the beach.
One of two Dock & Bay picks, this rainbow coloured Cabana quick-dry towel is a fun, eye-catching take on classic seaside stripes. Just like all of the single beach towels in the range, of which there are an impressive 24 colours, it comes with a handy pouch in the same print.
Created from 100% recycled plastic, it's made in such a way that sand won't stick to it – just give it a shake and the sand will be gone! Not only is this beach towel produced with sustainability in mind, but all products arrive in recyclable outer packaging, which gets the thumbs up from us.
All of the beach towels in the John Lewis range are made of BCI cotton, which supports more sustainable cotton farming and better conditions for the workers who produce it. We really like this bestseller, featuring a friendly cartoon whale that's great for adults or kids.
Crafted from 100% cotton at a medium weight of 410 gsm, it's soft and absorbent while being lightweight enough to pack in your beach bag. It's also a large size, ideal for doubling up to sunbathe on with a friend!
Looking for something a little different? This pink circular beach towel with banana leaf print pattern with a white tasselled fringe, is lots of fun. Round beach towels, or roundies as they're known, are a great way to stand out from the crowd (perfect for when your friends are looking for you!).
Made from microfibre the towel is soft, absorbs water well and dries quickly. This one is another multipurpose towel that can double up as a blanket or for use as a shawl if the evening gets a little chilly.
Crafted from 100% cotton with extra-long fibres, these Turkish Towels by Nicola Spring are durable, strong and versatile. Not only do they look chic on the beach but they can be used as a picnic blanket or even a throw for your furniture!
They are fairly thin and may look a little different from a classic beach towel, but peshtemal towels are extra-absorbent and dry far quicker than regular cotton alternatives. Coming in a range of attractive colours for everyone in the family to pick, this set of four includes a red, grey, navy and sky blue towel.
Specialising in accessories for when you're on the move, Go Travel has created this 260 Beach Towel with packing space in mind. Adventurers and those who like to travel light will appreciate how lightweight and compact it is, but it's also suitable for use as a bath towel – in fact, it's almost as big as some bath sheets.
As another towel made from 100% polyester microfibre, it's very absorbent, quick-drying and the texture is gentle on the skin. A practical buy with a classic nautical striped design, it certainly isn't the most luxurious choice but it does the job, especially while camping or travelling.
Made to be used for a whole range of purposes from camping to the gym, and of course, the beach, this microfibre travel towel by 4Monster can be rolled down very compactly and comes in a portable, ventilated case.
As well as coming in a range of sizes and colours, this towel is absorbent, fast drying and comes with a buttoned loop attachment to hang it up wherever you are. It's a great option for backpacking, but it may not be the one if you're just looking for an attractive beach towel with a fun design.
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