Beach nourishment — the addition of sand to increase the width or sand volume of the beach — is a widespread coastal management technique to counteract coastal erosion. Globally, rising sea levels, storms and diminishing sand supplies threaten beaches and the recreational, ecosystem, groundwater and flood protection services they provide. Consequently, beach nourishment practices have evolved from focusing on maximizing the time sand stays on the beach to also encompassing human safety and water recreation, groundwater dynamics and ecosystem impacts. In this Perspective, we present a multidisciplinary overview of beach nourishment, discussing physical aspects of beach nourishment alongside ecological and socio-economic impacts. The future of beach nourishment practices will vary depending on local vulnerability, sand availability, financial resources, government regulations and efficiencies, and societal perceptions of environmental risk, recreational uses, ecological conservation and social justice. We recommend co-located, multidisciplinary research studies on the combined impacts of nourishments, and explorations of various designs to guide these globally diverse nourishment practices.