Whether you’re a fly-and-flop kind of traveller or you like to intersperse your beach days with culture/history/adventure (delete as applicable) it’s important to be mindful of a few cultural practices, a kind of beach holiday etiquette if you like!
No leering – One of the unspoken rules of the beach is that gawking is (mostly) unappreciated! If you must take a gander, then do so from behind an oversized pair of sunglasses – those reflective ones hide your eyes completely. This rule especially comes into its own on a nudist beach!
Pick up after your pooch – If you’re planning on hitting the beach with Fido in tow then a) make sure dogs are allowed on your chosen stretch of sand, and b) ensure you’ve packed enough poop-bags to cover all eventualities. And if your dog is anything like mine (think incessant gull chasing/barking) then consider leaving Fido at home.
Play safe – By all means strike up impromptu games of volleyball, but steer clears of the crowds – flying sand and even faster flying balls don’t always o down too well. Ditto frisbees and other ball games.
Leave the lilo at home – Inflatables (other than arm bands and rings) are a huge no-no – especially at the beach. Aside from the fact that underwater currents can quickly pull you out to sea, there’s the potential to thwack random strangers in the face/body with your unwieldy inflatable sunbed/animal/ball.
Pack your trash – Nobody wants to look at your discarded drinks cans, newspapers and empty toiletry bottles – so either dump them in a nearby bin, or take your trash home. And there’s a serious side to this tip too, as beach dwelling birds and animals mistake rubbish for food and die trying to ‘eat’ the trash.
Watch where you light up – Many beaches now ban smoking, so other beachgoers don’t have to smell the smoke and tiptoe round discarded butts. If you must smoke then do so considerately and make sure to dispose of your butts somewhere suitable or use a vaporizer to keep the beach clean.
Space – OK so this is the Britishness in me coming out now – I hate when I pitch up a sunbed or towel and then another party comes and sets up right beside me! Not an issue if beach is packed out, but a bit of a pain if there’s tons of space. And no, just because you’re my new neighbour, I do not want to chat endlessly with you.
Don’t ignore the signs – Beach safety is paramount and adhering to the local signs is an absolute must. Many beaches fly red flags when swimming is not permitted, likewise some European and Caribbean beaches harbour jellyfish which lurk just underneath the sea. And Australian beaches warn of potential shark spots – now that’s one sign you definitely won’t want to ignore!
Respect the local culture – You’d think that a regular beach trip would be straightforward – but it very much depends on which part of the world you’re in. For example, many conservative countries frown upon topless sunbathing, whilst some beachgoers may even take offence if you’re clothed – some of the European nudist beaches are clothes-free for all. Your best bet is to watch out for local notices, in case of inadvertently wandering onto a nudist beach!