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It’s a familiar problem: You buy new beach towels at the beginning of the summer, and after trip after trip to the pool or beach, the towels look worn and tattered. Or you go the opposite route and spend a pretty penny on a beach towel only to wonder if it was even worth it. “For the pool and beach, we want a towel that has a very high drying capacity but that is light and easy to carry to the beach or on the boat,” says Luis Contreras, owner of Sereno Hotels, Le Sereno in St. Barts and Il Sereno in Lake Como. With that in mind, he says there’s nothing better than the all-natural and very light Turkish cotton towels. “They’re easy to pack and have incredible absorption,” says Contreras.
For Jeanie Mottley, director of operations at the luxury Wave Resort in Long Branch, New Jersey, “durability, absorbency, size and weight are some key considerations when making the best selections.” And, yes, aesthetics are also important. Jess Watson, founder of The Shop in Laguna Beach, looks for quality material and a thick-enough towel that’s also pretty: “Prints are always a must,” she says. We asked travel pros and hoteliers their picks for the best beach towels under $50.
Inexpensive, classic beach towel: Destination Summer Beach Towel, $7.99 on Bed, Bath & Beyond (free in-store pickup and free delivery on items over $39)
Destination Summer offers beach towels in a variety of fun patterns, from bright stripes to bold fruits to cool seashells. Measuring 34” x 64”, this beach towel is made from 100% cotton and comes in several colors and patterns so you’ll always know which towel is yours. Best Reviews considers these towels best for everyday use and notes that they’re well made and a good weight that doesn’t thin out with frequent washing. The quality, durability and plushness of this towel has earned it a 4.7 stars on Amazon too, with 86% of purchasers saying they would recommend this towel.
BUY NOW: Destination Summer Beach Towel, $7.99 on Bed, Bath & Beyond (free in-store pickup and free delivery on items over $39)
Sand-free towel: Venture 4th Large Sand-Free Beach Towel, $22.95 on Walmart
Travel and Leisure calls this towel the best sand-free option thanks to its microfiber material that doesn’t have any piling. And blogger TravelFashionGirl recommends it because it’s lightweight, quick drying and compact. “Whether you’re going to the gym, the beach, or camping, this towel is easy to toss in your bag so you’ll always be prepared for your next adventure,” she writes.
BUY NOW: Venture 4th Large Sand-Free Beach Towel, $22.95 on Walmart
Oversized towel: Wise Owl Microfiber Beach Towel, $29 on Amazon
This cute 7’ x 4’ towel is ideal for larger adults, several small kids or anyone who wants to create some extra space between them and their fellow beachgoers It’s popular with reviewers too — New York Magazine names this 7’ x 4’ towel the best extra-large beach towel — and fans say they love how absorbent the towel is. “Amazing! So thin and absorbent but huge! I can pack the whole thing into a tiny roll and put it into my purse,” writes one reviewer.
BUY NOW: Wise Owl Microfiber Beach Towel, $29 on Amazon
Turkish-style towel: Eshma Mardini Pestemal Turkish Towel, $17.95 on Overstock (free shipping)
Avid surfer Sam Talbot, who’s also known for his role on Bravo’s Top Chef, loves this $25 Aerie towel. “It’s big enough that I can use it as a sarong when I’m changing out of my wetsuit, and when I’m using it as a blanket, it’s big enough for my dog Tank to chill on, too,” says Talbot. But if your budget is under $20, this version closely resembles his favorite lightweight Hammam-style towel, which is highly absorbent and triples as a sarong or picnic blanket. One reviewer writes, “Beautiful. Can be used as towels or lounger throws. Great fabric and quality for outdoors.” They’re available in multiple colorways and measure 39” x 70”.
BUY NOW: Eshma Mardini Pestemal Turkish Towel, $17.95 on Overstock (free shipping)
Vacation site Trip Savvy names this as the best oversized beach blanket because it has metal anchors that keep it in place, it dries quickly, collapses into a carrying bag and it’s easy to shake sand off. Measuring 9’ by 10’, this beach blanket compresses into 4” by 8” and can double as a picnic mat while camping, hiking or fishing. Nearly 3 thousand people have rated this 4.6 out of 5 stars, with one reviewer writing, “Perfect beach accessory.”
BUY NOW: WellaX Beach Blanket, $39.99 on Amazon
Most stylish towel: Ibiza Bohemia Towel, $49 at Funboy
Rolling Stone Magazine named Funboy beach towels one of the best beach towels, and if you’re looking for a statement-making towel, this plush, 100% cotton towel delivers.Celeste Barrett, co-founder of FunBoy, a pool float, kiddie pool and backyard summer essentials company, says these kinds of prints simply appeal to her. “I love these elevated custom prints which are still playful and perfect for the whole family. It’s also nice to have the option of pairing products together from the same collection so you can create a cohesive party setting or gift set,” says Barrett.
BUY NOW: Ibiza Bohemia Towel, $49 at Funboy