The one thing most people look forward to every summer is going to the beach. Whether you want to swim, play in the sand, get some sun-kissed tan, or just want to get away from the concrete jungle of the city or the bleakness of your suburban residence – the beach has something fun and relaxing to offer. But when you go on a vacation, you have to deal with rules and proper etiquette to ensure maximum enjoyment for you and your fellow vacationers. Unless you rented a private island, you have to deal with other people, so you can’t just do whatever you want. It’s not meant to kill the joy – it’s for the benefit of everyone.
Here are some things you must not do at the beach:
1. Play music out loud
Unless you rented the whole place for your seaside party, avoid playing your music through a boombox or speaker. People come to the beach to have a fun and relaxing getaway, not listen to your favorite tunes. Always keep in mind that not all people have the same taste in music as you. Some people would like to have a decent conversation, some of them would like to read a book by the beach, and some of them would prefer listening to gentle sound of the crashing waves than your playlist. Avoid annoying everyone by bringing your own headphones.
2. Run in the sand
It might be fun and tempting to run Baywatch-style while wearing your bikini or trunks, but it’s actually not a good idea. You can kick up sand on other people’s beach blankets, and you may trip, slip or step on something sharp or hard, causing injuries. If you want to go for a jog, stick to the wet sand at the water line.
3. Play among the crowds
Playing games like volleyball, football or tossing Frisbee is fun and provides a great exercise while you’re sunning on the beach, but these can be loud, intrusive and irritating for others who are lounging. Since these kinds of games are active, you may end up kicking sand and trampling blankets as you try to catch your target. Worse, you may accidentally hit other beachgoers in the noggin.
If you want to play at the beach, set up your play area far away from tanners and swimmers. Also, make sure that the beach owner or authority allows playing sports at the area so your fun won’t be cut short if ever it’s prohibited (or if others ended up reporting you because you disrupted their peace).
4. Feed the seagulls
It might seem fun to feed seagulls that flap around the beach, but it can actually be detrimental to the birds and annoying for other beachgoers. Seagulls need to stick to a natural diet, so your leftover French fries, bread, biscuits and chips isn’t healthy for them. These can make them sick and obese. Also, if you keep on feeding them, it encourages them to invite their friends and before you know it, there are already plenty of them at the beach that can disturb other beachgoers. Some birds may end up pecking the snacks of other people having a picnic by the beach, and they will have no one to blame but you. Don’t fall for it when the birds seem to be begging you – there are plenty of fish in the sea for them to eat.
Also, if the birds have learned to snack on what beachgoers feed them, they may have a hard time fending for themselves at winter, because no one is at the beach.
5. Leave behind trash
You can be free to eat and drink at the beach, but make sure you throw away your trash or pack up any leftovers. Be friendly to the environment. Careless trash disposal is damaging for marine life and of course, it makes the area unsightly for other beachgoers. Even the biodegradable stuff (such as watermelon rinds and banana peels) must be disposed, as leaving them behind can attract pests, stinging bugs and flies to the beach area. Always put trash in the trash cans, but since not all beaches come equipped with these, you must pack your own plastic bag for garbage disposal. This must be a no-brainer for anyone who wants to have a great time by the beach.
6. Try to push the limit of your swimming skills
Swimming is one of the best activities to do at the beach, but it’s not the safest place to stretch your swimming skills. Even if you’re an experienced swimmer, it’s dangerous to go in too deep in the sea because you’ll never know when a wave might pull you out deep into the water. Riptides are notoriously difficult to find, and more than 100 people drown every year because of this, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If you want to swim, keep yourself in a safe distance from the shore and make sure there’s someone on the shore keeping track of you.
Plus, never play drowning games with your peers. Lifeguards won’t like it when you play any game that involves yelling “Help!”
The smoke from cigarettes is something that’s always unwelcome for non-smokers – most especially at the beach where people want to feel the fresh seaside breeze. If you smoke, the warm summer breeze can blow secondhand smoke into the faces and lungs of your fellow beachgoers. Plus, it’s especially harmful for the environment. Cigarettes doesn’t biodegrade in sand, and it can leach toxic chemicals and carcinogens to the waters. If you’re a smoker, puff away in the parking lot before entering the beach, and properly dispose it after you do.
8. Shake towel near other people
Before deciding to shake off sand from your towel or blanket, make sure that the winds are not moving in a direction where other people are lounging. Sprinkling a sleeping stranger with sand isn’t a friendly beach behavior, so it’s worth the effort to drag the towel or blanket in an empty area so you don’t end up choking or flinging the eyes of anyone with airborne sand.
9. Leave your dog unattended
The beach gives your dog plenty of room to run and play, but dogs can get in nasty riptides easily. Always bring a leash for your dog and hold on to it while you and your dog is swimming, and also make sure that his tags display your name and contact information. Don’t keep your dog under the sun as dogs may have heat strokes too. Keep your dog hydrated with a doggy water bottle. And make sure you clean up any poop your dog leaves behind, because other people might step on it. But always check first if the place is a dog-friendly beach before bringing your beloved pet with you. Some beaches do not allow dogs.
10. Forget water and sunscreen
There are two things you must always keep with you at the beach: water for hydration and sunscreen for skin protection. When you’re out in the sun and heat all day, it’s important to stay hydrated. And of course, you must not skip wearing sunscreen – even if you’re trying to get tan. A UVA/UVB sunscreen with SPF 30 is good enough to protect your from sunburn and wrinkles, and is still low enough to ensure you’d get some color. Don’t forget to reapply it after swimming and every two hours you spent under the sun.
11. Wear cheap sunglasses
Cheap sunglasses are OK when it comes to being trendy and stylish, but most of them doesn’t give you enough UV protection you need at the beach. It’s not just about style, make sure you pick one that blocks 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays, screen out at least 75% of visible light and has the right shade for color recognition.
12. Shave just right before hitting the waves
Everyone likes to have a smooth and clear skin when going to the beach, but don’t shave just right before going to the beach. This can lead to razor burn because saltwater can irritate the small cuts made by the razor. It’s best to shave at least a day before your beach trip and moisturize it well afterwards.
13. Ignore authorities and warnings
Never ignore beach authorities and warnings when you’re at the beach. Lifeguards and other beach officials know whether or not the water is safe for swimming and you must listen to their advice and warnings. Signs that indicate warning about strong currents, jellyfish and riptides are there to keep you safe. Even if the conditions look ideal, people who disregard cautions would much likely need some rescuing later on.
14. Ignore local customs and acceptable behavior
When traveling to another place, be respectful and observe their local customs, especially when it comes to manners of dress and public behavior. It’s always best to do a little research about the culture and some do’s and don’ts in the place you are going to. Skimpy bikinis and lots of PDA may be fine at home, but in some countries (especially in Asian countries), these are frowned upon. Meanwhile, in some areas of Europe and Australia, it’s common to go to the beach in the nude without being scandalous. Speaking of nudity, only take all your clothes off in nudist beaches. And while on them, avoid gawking and taking photos.