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Beach etiquette differs based on the region of the U.S. and the beach. Some beaches are known for rowdy spring-breakers while other are more family oriented. With this in mind, our list of pet peeves is general and might not apply to the beach you visit.
We all have our pet peeves when we’re in a public setting. These include the mouth-breather, the gum smacker, or the person that says “like” every other word.
At the beach it’s really no different. We’re enjoying time outdoors, spending time with friends and family, around other groups of people we don’t know. It’s fair to say that all of us expect to give and receive some level of courtesy.
Below are a list of we came up with that might rub people, especially families the wrong way. But first, a bit about my time at the beach.
The College Days in San Diego
Not long ago I spent my college years in San Diego. My roommates and I were always at the beach swimming, throwing the football, enjoying drinks with friends.
We’d even be at the beach in the evenings for bonfires. Our beach of preference was Mission Beach. In the summer, Mission Beach was the place to be – 1000’s of young, good looking people having a good time.
It was only a decade ago but things were much different. We could drink on the beach – yep, you can’t do that anymore. In fact, my friends would organize massive beer pong tournaments right off the boardwalk with kegs and coolers galore.
I’m sure you can guess what happened. Eventually people became too rowdy and alcohol was banned from San Diego public beaches. It happened while I was in San Diego.
A few men decided it was a good idea to get drunk, then fight the beach police. The privilege of having a beer on the beach was ruined for millions of future beach visitors because of a few bad apples.
As a beach visitor we should be aware of people around us and have the decency to respect others. Adults can overlook certain behavior but a beach is a place for kids and families. Share the beach and share mutual respect
No. 1 Loud Music
Number one on our list is the group that brings their stereo and assumes everyone wants to listen to the same music they enjoy. We love music, but most people on the beach enjoy hearing the sound of the waves and seagulls.
Many families travel 1000’s of miles just to get a taste of the beach.
Loud music takes away some of the novelty of the beach. If the beach is sparse, find a less-congested area to play your music and keep it down. If the beach is full, lower the volume or turn it of completely. You can listen to music anywhere, it isn’t the same for the sounds of the ocean.
No. 2 Drunk
Drunks at the beach aren’t as common in California (because most beaches have outlawed it). But in many parts of the country beaches still allow alcohol to flow like water. If I’m with friends then seeing and hearing the obnoxious drunk person can be entertaining.
However if I’m with family or see other people around with their families, it’s not a pleasant scene. People don’t want to be bothered by the drunk guy that can’t stop yelling.
No. 3 Speedo or Tiny Bikini
The speedo or string bikini can be nice to look at if you’re into it, but they make most people feel uncomfortable – even if you’re hot.
Depending on the location it might be normal or appropriate. In many European beaches, speedos or small bikinis might be the norm – not so in the U.S. (although small bikinis have become more accepted).
It’s not just the size of the speedo or bikini it but also the person wearing it. A big person will make a speedo look even smaller – same goes for a tiny bikini.
Someone in excellent physical shape will probably get the benefit of the doubt more-so than someone looking sloppy (not being discriminatory, it’s just likely).
Related: Beach Items You Need
No. 4 Feeding the Seagulls
Ah, seagulls. Yes they are as much part of the beach as sand and waves. Seagulls can become a nuisance though especially when they’re hungry.
They fly overhead, searching for food. Sometimes they even steal food. Make sure you hide it!
It’s always a beach rookie that feeds the seagulls. Sharing food is great, but feed one seagull and 20 more will be flying overhead in no-time.
Everyone knows what happens when a group of birds fly over you at the beach. Eventually one of those birds will have an accident and it won’t be pretty.
One of the funniest memories from high school were the hundreds of seagulls that hovered above us during lunch time. One day the prettiest girl in school got it right in the face and she was devastated (it was hilarious).
People at the beach will be tempted to feed the seagulls – please resist the temptation.
No. 5 Sporting Game on the Shore
Really guys and gals? You’re playing your game here? There’s a specific place on the beach where runners, walkers, and dog walkers move along the beach.
Runners and walkers like the shore, on the firm patch of sand a few yards before the water. 100’s of people move along that area for daily exercise and dip their toes in the water as they walk.
It happens every time I’m at the beach. I end up walking into a soccer or football game. I’m privy to sports so I don’t mind, however, it’s not the best place to start your intense game of football.
I always jump in the game to make an interception or pass the ball but I also want to say “take it up on the beach” (I never do).
Related: Best Beach Games for Kids and Adults
I’m sure a few senior citizens or young kids have been knocked over while trying to get some exercise on the beach. The beach is the perfect place for a game, just do it out of the way of passers-bye.
The problem with a game on the beach is people focus on the ball and don’t watch where they’re going. Unfortunately that’s when someone gets run over.
No. 6 Dog Off Its Leash (not picking up after him/her)
Love dogs, but if they’re in a public place I love them on a leash. Most people follow this rule and it’s all good, but some people think their dog deserves the exception.
For quiet beaches in the off-season by all means let the dog roam free. A dog at the beach is a happy dog and should be chasing birds and balls. If the beach is busy think twice about letting your dog off its leash.
And please pick up after your dog. I’ve stepped in it before – I suppose some people think it will be washed away by the tide? If you’re taking your dog to the beach in the summer, consider going in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler out.
Dogs can get sunburned too. The heat plus UV light can be bad for him/her during midday hours.
Related: Best Beach Gear for Your Dog
No. 7 Littering
Keep our beaches clean! In the U.S. we’ve had so much education on littering and cleanliness. We even have $1000 fines for people who litter (I wonder how often that fine is enforced). Yet, people continue to leave their stuff for others to clean up.
If you frequent a certain beach, take ownership and keep it clean. I have a motto at the beach “take out more trash than you came with”. We can each do our part.
People work hard to clean and comb the beach to maintain its beauty. It wouldn’t look so good otherwise. If you want to get involved with a volunteer group that cleans up your local beach then check out this link.
No. 8 Sandals on the Beach (the walk by)
I’ve mentioned this in other articles but it’s a rookie move to walk with sandals on the beach. Yes, I realize that the sand can be hot. If you wear sandals on the beach you’ll be flipping sand everywhere.
If the beach is busy, and you’re walking past others, then you know you’ll be flipping sand on them. It’s not a good feeling to have someone walk by while you’re sleeping and receive sand on your face. Our next pet peeve is similar.
No. 9 Sandy Blanket Shaker
You’ve enjoyed an amazing day at the beach and you’re ready to head home. Dad says “Prepare our things, shake out the towels and fold them up”.
You walk over, pick up a towel and start shaking it in the wind. Sand proceeds to fly all over the group of people next to you. Uh oh!
I think most people have made this mistake and have also been on the receiving end. Can’t people have some common courtesy? I’ve done this before on accident. It’s important to note that yes, people make mistakes and we should learn from them.
Check the people around you, check the wind direction, and keep the towel low to the ground so sand can’t go as far. Everyone around you will appreciate it.
Related: Beach Large Beach Blankets
No. 10 Fisherman Where Kids/Families are Playing
There’s a good time to fish, and good places to fish. A good time to fish is not midday when many people are at the beach. A good place to fish is not in the break on a busy tourist beach where kids are swimming.
A great time for shore fishing is early morning or evening. A good place to fish is off a pier or on a less touristy beach (or in the off-season). Fishing is fun and the whole family can participate. Like everything there are certain areas that are more appropriate than others.
Think about where you are and who could be hurt. A hook and a line can be dangerous to kids and adults. I don’t want to be caught while swimming.
Being considerate to other beach-goers is fairly easy. In fact, most people at the beach are extremely considerate. They enjoy the sun, sand, and water with their family and don’t bother other people.
Yet there are always a few people that can affect the fun beach experience. Chances are they’re also considerate folks but might not realize what they are doing is rude. Below is the abbreviated list we just discussed.
- At the beach there’s no need for loud music (maybe if you have a private event or space).
- Most beaches have strict rules for drinking – understand that families are around.
- Wear something appropriate – you might be confident but others might not want to see your junk
- Refrain from feeding the seagulls. They are cleaver and will steal food. Plus, we don’t want them to have an accident on our head.
- Play sports higher on the beach – not in the walkway, you’ll run someone over
- If the beach is busy keep Fito on a leash and pick up after him/her
- Littering – no patience for this, you know better
- Don’t be a sandal sand flipper
- Shake out your towel elsewhere – not in my face
- Fishing is great, but not on a busy beach – try the pier or a different time when people aren’t swimming
We think these are fair things to ask of any beachgoer. Sometimes we don’t realize what we’re doing and need a reminder. The U.S. has some beautiful beaches and great people. Let’s work together, be considerate of others and keep our beaches clean.
If we missed any leave us a note and we’ll consider adding it to our list.