Uncrowded Beach

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Beach Etiquette – 11 Do’s & Don’ts

“This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots.” This quote is from one of my favorite books, Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman. And really, this story is about beach etiquette, and yes, it’s a real thing. I just enjoyed two weeks visiting different beaches and spending entire days lounging in the sun and sand. I was sometimes shocked by the lack of basic beach etiquette and common sense. Now this post could quickly turn into a long rant about what people do at the beach that drives me crazy and how so many people are basically idiots. I love a good rant; it’s something I’m really, really good at. But no, after a bit of a cooling-off period, I wanted to reach a consensus on beach etiquette. If we followed a few simple do’s and don’ts, life would be like a day at the beach. Here are some simple Beach Etiquette Do’s & Don’ts for every day at the beach. 

Recently updated with a few more rules of beach etiquette for 2024. 

DON’T crowd your fellow beachgoers.

Have a little respect for personal space; that is probably the most important of the Beach Etiquette Do’s & Don’ts. You might not be an early arriver, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect those who did arrive early and might have landed some prime beach space. When you arrive, look for an area to set up that leaves room for others to enjoy the beach. Don’t be a space invader; leave at least 15 feet between you and another person’s chairs and blanket. Here’s a little rule of thumb: if you can reach out and touch another person’s cooler or beach chairs, you’re too close.

Now, some beaches are just crowded. Beaches in areas around major cities only sometimes allow for the 15-foot rule. But it would help if you tried to respect people’s personal space.

Personal space is a thing. It’s a safety mechanism; we like more space between strangers and ourselves to feel comfortable. According to neuroscientist Michael Graziano, author of the new book The Spaces Between Us. “There really is such a thing” as personal space, “The brain computes a buffer zone around the body.” And this also applies to your ability to enjoy a day at the beach.

Plastic bottle on beach
Keep The Beach Clean
DO Clean Up After Yourself

This rule applies to any place you are; clean up your trash. Bring a small bag to place your garbage in while on the beach. It’s windy, and things will blow away, but that is no excuse for not cleaning them up. Beware of plastic bags, sharp objects, cigarette butts, and food wrappers; they impact both other beachgoers and sea life. Almost all beaches have trash cans, so it’s easy to do. Be polite, pay attention to your area, and clean up.

DON’T Play Loud Music

Everyone knows the feeling: you’re sitting on a quiet beach reading a book, and suddenly, the self-appointed beach DJ arrives. It’s his goal to make you love his music. Beach tunes are great, but not everyone loves to hear your concert. Keep it down. Ask the people around you if it’s too loud (usually, that simple act will make everyone happy). Pay attention to the lyrics; if they are explicit, think twice about it on a beach, especially with little kids.

FYI they did invent these things called earbuds, and you can listen to your concert as loud as you like, and no one will care.

Man with beer and radio on beach
The Self Appointed Beach DJ, Why Does He Always Sit Next To Me?
DO Pay Attention To Kids & Pets

If you bring your kids and pets to the beach, keep an eye on them. Remember, it is easy to get lost on a crowded beach, and the ocean can have strong currents, so keep an eye out. Also, no one likes having sand thrown at them, so if your children are throwing sand, step in and stop them. Although most beaches do not allow pets, if you can bring yours, ensure you clean up after them.

Paying attention goes both ways. If you see a kid in harm’s way in the water, alert the parents or lend a hand. You can also keep an eye out for others.

DON’T Block Other’s View Of The Water

If you arrive late or plan on setting up a bedouin tent camp, be mindful of others. You are not the only one who wants a view of the water. When setting up a shade shelter or other beach gear that blocks the ocean view, please move to the back or the side; it’s polite.

DO Secure Your Umbrella

The beach is usually windy, and no one wants to be impaled by a flying umbrella. We have all watched as someone plants the umbrella pole about 2 inches into the sand, then piles up a bunch of sand around the base. We all know that will never stay put, and we watch it become airborne with the first big wind gust. Make sure you secure things that can blow away. And when you go for a walk or into the water, put your umbrella down. Not only is this the safe thing to do, it’s good beach etiquette.

DON’T Shake Out Your Blanket Around Others

We have all seen them—the people covered in sand from head to toe. As a true “sandaphobic, it drives me crazy. The beach is covered in sand, and the sand will inevitably go flying. You can’t help it. But if you are covered in sand, and everything you touch is covered in sand, and you need to shake out sandy towels or blankets, be mindful of others downwind. Move to an open area or do it gradually, and then no one ends up eating sand.

A beach blanket with sand
Think Before You Shake Off The Sand
DO Hang Up The Phone

For some reason, it’s OK to listen to two people talking (usually); it’s another thing to listen to a long, loud cell phone conversation. Personally, I think if I stare and shake my head enough, they will get the message and hang up, but they never do. If you can’t resist taking the call or need to talk about work or what you did last night, move to an area where others don’t have to listen. And don’t put that call on speaker or take a Facetime call on the beach. We don’t care to listen.

DON’T Hog The Chairs

If you are at a resort beach, don’t be that person who runs down at 8 am, puts all your stuff on the best chairs, and then goes back to bed or out to breakfast for hours. Use the chairs at the time and remove your towels and belongings if you are leaving. It’s the polite thing to do.

This and the next suggestion are new to the list of Beach Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts for 2024. When traveling in Curacao, I saw too many people touching and gathering sea life when snorkeling. And that isn’t a good thing to do to the fragile reef system. And the number of people smoking on the beach was alarming.

DO Respect Marine Life

When you are at the beach, try to respect the marine life. Obey the signage in any designated area where turtles and sea birds nest. And if you are snorkeling near a reef, remember to look, but don’t touch. The coral reef ecosystem is delicate and under threat from many factors; don’t make yourself one of them. 

DON’T Smoke on the Beach

Yes, you are outdoors, but you should find an area away from others to smoke. No one wants smoke wafting around when they are relaxing on the beach. And by all means, clean up your cigarette butts. 

Imagine a world where we all are aware that we are NOT the only person on the beach and respect others’ personal space and experience. In that world, it is a much better day at the beach. Most of these Beach Etiquette Do’s & Don’ts would make it a better world if applied to everyday life. These beach rules are a great way to make your summer vacation more enjoyable for everyone. But if you are lucky enough to find your own private beach, you can do whatever you want!

Looking for some wonderful beaches? Check out my list of Top 9 Best Beaches On St John and Top 8 Best Beaches To Visit In Curacao in 2024.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

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