Beach Towel vs Bath Towel – What is the Difference?

When you’re heading to the beach, you might think that any old towel will do. After all, a towel is just a towel right? What’s the point in getting a specific towel for the beach when you already have bath towels handy?

You’re definitely not the first person to ask this but the answer may surprise you. Yes, a towel is fundamentally a towel but the way that it’s made does create differences in where you want to use it. For example, a hand towel is still a towel but you probably wouldn’t want to use that for a bath towel, right?

When it comes to understanding the differences between beach and bath towels, they have some basic differences. If you’re not sure of why it makes a difference which one you use, we’ll break down the major differences.

What’s the Difference Between Beach and Bath Towels?

Before we get into the specifics, there are a few major differences between the two types of towels. The primary differences are the following:

  • Size
  • Appearance
  • Thickness
  • Sides
  • Texture

1. Size

If you’ve ever taken a look at both types of towels, you’ve probably noticed that beach towels are both bigger and longer. Why exactly? They need to be able to keep you both clean and dry when you’re at the beach. A beach towel also serves as a fashionable accessory. Since it’s function and environment are going to different for beach towels, it’s manufacturing is also difference.

You know that a beach towel is going to be stepped on repeatedly and exposed to either salt water or chlorine on a regular basis. Often beach towels are dried without being rinsed to remove the salt and sand. This gives you a better understanding that a beach towel isn’t just used as a towel. It also has to function as a blanket, a makeshift pillow, and a place for you to lie in the sun. With so much to do, there’s no surprise that it has a larger size than your average bath towel!

2. Appearance

When it comes to how your towel looks, the appearance is a biggie. Viewed out of context, you could probably recognize that they are not one and the same. A towel is also designed to complement its environment. Bathrooms are generally more subtle and the towels designed for their use are often in calming colors and patterns with rich tones frequently used.

In contrast, a beach towel is bright and colorful. It often uses contrasts of yellows, blues, and greens with bold patterns. Simply put, everything about a beach towel is designed to make it stand out instead of fit in. You probably wouldn’t want to put it in your bathroom as it would clash with almost everything else.

That doesn’t mean that beach towels have to be abrasive or harsh on your eyes. After all, there is a beach towel style for everyone. Some of the towels are simpler with stripes or a more subtle pattern. However, in general, you’re going to find that you can generally recognize the difference between both towels just by looking at them without having any other information.

3. Thickness

At this point, it might be a good idea to take a look at a beach and bath towel just to give yourself a better idea of this point. Inspect the towels at the same time and you’ll notice that they also have a different thickness, not just the color. Bath towels are designed to be luxurious and usually are fairly thick. Obviously, you want a towel that’s going to absorb as much moisture as possible. Drying off is a key function and you might want to do this quickly so you can expect bath towels to be thick and fluffy.

In contrast, getting dry at the beach or pool is not quite as important. Sure, you may want to use your towel to dry off but it’s primarily used as a barrier between your body and the ground. This means that your beach towel may be made from a thinner fabric. They tend to be less absorbent but also dry quickly in the sunlight. Their thickness makes them easier to carry and transport so they’re light in your bag.

4. Sides

This doesn’t refer to opinion but rather the two sides of the towel aren’t always the same. A beach towel may not always have this feature but they’re often made with two different features on the front and back. One side tends to be more absorbent and is designed to be used to dry yourself off after swimming. The other side is designed to not get soggy and fill up with sand. The construction may be the same but one side may be treated differently.

You may notice this with velour towels that are commonly used for beaches. Velour means that one side of the towel has the terry loops shaved off, leaving it both soft and sand-repellent. In contrast, the other side has full terry loops which are more absorbent. Take a look at your beach towel but you’ll notice that both sides of a bath towel are the same.

5. Texture

When you feel your bath towel, you’ll notice that a good quality one is both soft and absorbent. Once it gets completely wet though, it will be stained and often smell bad. The materials of a beach towel won’t have this same effect as they are designed to resist this side effect.

The next time you go to the beach, you could even consider bringing a beach and a bath towel so you’ll see the difference yourself. This is probably only something you’ll do once though! After having to wait hours for your bath towels to dry at the beach, you’ll see the benefit of using a beach towel for your pool and beach trips.

Can I Use a Beach Towel as a Bath Towel?

The simple answer to this question is yes, but you might not want to. After understanding the difference between the two types of towels, you may find that using a beach towel in your bathroom isn’t the best choice. From the design of the towel to its function, you’re better off using a bath towel in your bathroom.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use it but that you likely won’t get the best results. When you don’t have any other options, a beach towel is still better than nothing at all. If you can though, try to have both types of towels handy.

What Size of Beach Towel to Get?

In general, you want to get a beach towel that is large enough for you to comfortably sit and lie on while at the beach. Most people will look for a towel that’s just about their height. However, your standard beach towel is going to be 60×30 inches. If you’re very tall, you might want to get a towel that’s larger but this size is good for most people. You can always check the dimensions before buying the towel as it should be on the label.

What Size is an Oversize Beach Towel?

If you find that you’d rather have a beach towel that’s a little larger, then you have this option as well. Beach towels do come in more than one size although you may have to shop around for the oversized options. An oversized beach towel is typically 70 inches long. This is almost six feet in length so you might not need this large of a towel but it is available.

What’s the Biggest Beach Towel?

If you want a large beach towel, then you’re in luck. A monster towel ( is 10×10 feet long. However, it’s fairly compact and can be rolled up into a compact package so that it’s easy to carry. Why exactly would you want a bowel that’s this large? Most people use this if they want a towel large enough for their family to sit on and enjoy. This is not only a towel that you might use at the beach. You can also take it on picnics or anywhere you want a large blanket or towel.

What Type of Towel Should I Get?

Since everyone has slightly different preferences, there isn’t one correct type of towel to get. However, you should probably get a beach towel for the outdoors and bath towels for your home. This will not only give you the best results, but you’ll also keep your bath towels looking great. Beach towels are designed for more stress and use so they will need to be replaced occasionally but tend to last for a few years.

If you’re not sure of the right type of beach towel for your needs, then consider going to a homegoods store and looking at a few. Feel and size up the towels to get a better idea of how they feel and if the size is right for you. Make sure to pick a color or design that you enjoy and you’ll be ready for your next beach trip!

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