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Beach Etiquette

A blanket look at manners on the beach.

By
Trent Armstrong,
July 6, 2009

Beach Etiquette

Ahhh. Finally summer is here. It's good to be chillin' out. And while beach season is in full swing here in the United States, it's far from over. And, of course, there are fantastic beaches to hit year round in so many countries around the world. So I, your Modern Manners Guy, would like to take a look at beach manners and beach etiquette-- how you can be number one while having fun in the sun.

Prepping for the Beach

The beach should be a happy place, not a den of thieving and hogging and kicking and crying and shouting and stomping and leaving-- sorry about that. Well, we need a place to start, and that would be prepping for the day at the beach. There are actually some things that can be done early to ensure a fun trip, especially if you are headed out with another set of people.

Put on sunscreen before hitting the sand. Not only is it good to let the sunscreen have a chance to soak in for health reasons, but waiting until you get to the beach to apply your UV protection can cause relationship problems as well.

Problem 1: If others have taken the time to lotion up back at the condo or beach house, you are eating into everyone's valuable beach time by making them wait for you or your kid while you apply sunscreen.

Problem 2: Waiting to apply sunscreen will increase your chances (or your kid's chances) of burning, which will then cause lots of problems for your family and those that have joined you at the beach.

Think ahead. Make sure you are loaded up with everything you need before heading to the sand. And if you get there only to realize you are missing something, weigh the importance of retrieving that item versus the time it would take to return for it.

Setting Up at the Beach

Once at the beach, you'll notice that certain rental units already have umbrellas and chairs assigned to them. Use only the ones assigned to you and be sure to keep your group footprint small enough to keep from encroaching on other people's space. The same goes for if you don't have an assigned area.

Many beaches are pretty big, which can allow you to keep a comfortable distance from others. And don't make this distance just what is comfortable for you. Put yourself in the other party's flip-flops and consider what they might think is a comfortable distance. Should you get to the beach a little later in the day and have missed the prime spots, do not just set up right in front of someone who planned well enough to get to the beach early for that top notch real estate. You should just plan better next time

How to Handle Bad Beach Manners

Now, if you have arrived at the beach early enough to snag a great spot and someone comes along late and sets up really close or right in front of you, you have a few options. You can evaluate the area and the need for space. If the place is just plain crowded, you might have to let it go and pick a less active stretch of beach next time. If there is really no one around, you should feel free to request a little more space. Before the other party's chairs get settled in the sand say something like, "Hey, sorry about this, but we will need to spread out a little more. If you guys move down just a little, we won't be crowding you later. The other folks might tell you they don't mind in which case you use your best manners and either move or just deal with it.

Keep in mind that the beach is not your property, so if someone wants to set up between your spot and the water, again, you should move or just deal with it and use it as a learning experience.

And do not-- I repeat-- DO NOT set up near enough to anyone to-- or set up anything big enough to-- actually block the sun from shining on someone else at the beach.

Noise Level

Noise. Noise, noise, noise. Yes, the waves are loud, but they are soothing. Adults and children yelling, screaming, and crying is not appropriate for the beach. Being outside, everyone will still probably use their outside voices, but that's okay since it is, in fact, outside. However, it's not appropriate to be really loud around others who are trying relax and enjoy themselves.

Parents, you are in charge of keeping the volume of your children under control. If you feel that is too much for you, you might want to email into and/or check out the Mighty Mommy podcast here at the Quick and Dirty Tips Network.

[[AdMiddle]For those of us trying to enjoy the peace and tranquility, it should be understood that folks get excited while at the beach and therefore will generate a little more noise than usual; however, you should always keep a check on your own sound levels to ensure they are not disturbing anyone else around.

I was recently enjoying the sun in Florida when a guy rolled out his cooler with a built-in radio. I didn't so much mind that he was blaring music from the band Boston since I like a little Boston from time to time. However, I was a little concerned for the large number of folks around who weren't asked if they wanted to hear his music.

If you find yourself in such a situation, you should again weigh your options. You can approach the offender with the request for him or her to lower the volume without being accusatory, of course. Try something like, "Hi! I dig your snappy radio, but would you mind turning the volume down a little?" You could add something about not being able to nap on your beach chair.

Another option is to not say anything at all and just get to know a new musical genre-- especially if the person who owns the radio is twice as big as you and is giving everyone the stink eye.

Or if the area is large enough, you could just take one on the chin for the team and move somewhere else without mumbling insults under your breath.

Beach Manners Wrap Up

Always follow the rules posted at the beach. Wear sunscreen so you don't get burned and ruin everyone else's trip. Have fun with your kids but keep their noise level down. And refrain from smoking if you are close enough to another beach patron to bother them. If you make an effort to observe these simple tips, not only will YOU have a good time at the beach-- everyone else will too!

Thank you for listening to The Modern Manners Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Polite Life

Be sure to check out one of the newest additions to the Quick and Dirty Tips Network: The Winning Investor.  Each week, financial expert Andrew Horowitz teaches the basics of investing so you can weather market volatility and maximize your investment returns. You can find The Winning Investor and all our other fantastic podcasts at QDNow.com.

There are transcript of this and all my other episodes at manners.quickanddirtytips.com where you can also find a link to my Facebook group.  Come on over, become a fan and join in the discussions. And don't forget to tell a friend about your Modern Manners Guy. If you would like to offer any comments or topic suggestions email me at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. The Modern Manners Guy is a part of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network.

Seashell image from

public domain book Kunstformen der Natur

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