Beach Etiquette — Your guide to acting beachside appropriate this summer

Given that the beach is one of the few places where it’s acceptable to show up in various states of undress and there aren’t many set rules for beachgoers, there is (in our opinion anyway) a certain standard of behaviour that all of us should adhere to when hitting the seaside this summer.

01. Children

Much like McDonald’s, the beach really is the domain of children. Cast your mind back to your childhood days: there was nothing more exciting than a day at the beach. So show some respect for little Fred and Mary’s day-long civil engineering feat of constructing a small empire (complete with moat) and watch your step. Your haphazard wandering could otherwise extinguish the architectural hopes and dreams of future generations. Likewise, it is never a good idea to outdo the little ones’ construction efforts by developing a larger, more impressive sand castle directly alongside their juvenile attempt. Do the kids a favour and instead, offer to become the one they bury in the sand – preferably at the low tide mark.

02. PDA

While the beach has long been the natural backdrop for many a great romance, there’s nothing quite as stomach-churning as having to witness an overly frisky couple frolicking, limbs akimbo in the middle of the beach. We’re not about to begrudge a few passionate moments, but anyone displaying moves more suited to an R18 movie should be promptly thrown into the surf to dampen their inappropriate ardour. ‘Sex On The Beach’ is a cocktail, not an invite. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?

03. Nudity

Ah, the long-debated topless topic. Should you take your beach attire cues from the Europeans and free your nipple on the beach? Perhaps. But do keep in mind a couple of considerations: a particularly buxom bosom might be best kept within the confines of a bikini top, and we would suggest you show some decorum if there are children in the vicinity. That said, please save the full-blown nudity for beaches that are dedicated to it. Not many people are offended by a tanned pair of breasts, but the site of something floppy slapping against the inner thighs of a tanned geriatric is bound to send most people running.

04. The Towel Flick

There is nothing quite as annoying as the inconsiderate towel flick. So next time you’re emerging from the ocean while trying to retain your sexy James Bond composure – don’t lunge at your towel and fling it about your body with nary a thought for anyone else in the area. As we all know, towels hold an extraordinary amount of sand when lifted quickly from the beach, and your inconsiderate gesture will shower everyone within a 100-metre radius in clingy particles. Do the polite thing: either dry yourself with unbridled enthusiasm in an isolated area or carefully lift your towel and take it away from everyone else to shake it clean.

05. Hassling The Lifeguard

Thou shalt respect the man in yellow who waves his hands and blows his whistle. He may seem like he’s overreacting, but it’s more likely that your rather amateurish attempt at body surfing is causing widespread concern amongst the lifeguard fraternity. While you’ve been blissfully unaware of your actions, they have noted your rapid descent to the far reaches of the large swell, thanks to the almighty rip in which you’ve been floundering. Do everyone a favour and heed the lifeguard’s advice, and best do it quickly or your fantasy of locking lips with a buff lifeguard may become more of a lifesaving mouth-to-mouth reality.

06. Dogs

Man’s best friend or unsuspecting beachgoer’s worst nightmare? Canines have been a long-debated addition to beach life, and while many public spots have strict bans on dogs, there are still some more remote spots where Fido is as welcome as the rest of us. Although we can all see the entertainment in an over-enthusiastic dog flailing about in the waves while trying to fetch a large piece of driftwood, what’s not so enjoyable is the realisation that you’ve placed your towel atop a pile of sun-crusted dog turd. Often mistaken for a large section of dried sand, said turd will, upon impact with your tush, ooze through the towel and adhere to your newly prized Gucci one-piece. So if you’re bringing your canine companion to the beach, for god’s sake do the right thing and pick up after them.

07. Noise

The beach is one of the few places where we’re happy to compromise our personal space in order to secure a prime waterfront position. What we must not forget, however, is that the beach has the uncanny ability to amplify every whisper into a shout. So please think twice before loudly giving your beach companion an X-rated, blow-by-blow account of your recent sexual escapades. Similarly, if you are one of those people who brings music to the beach, at least play something that most of us are likely to enjoy listening to. Waking up from a tranquil beach nap to David Guetta’s greatest hits played on a tiny, tinny speaker will never not be annoying.

08. Smoking

The sheer act of lighting up a stinking hot cancer stick in the middle of a beach on a steamy day is quite frankly a phenomenon that we will never understand. But for those of you who are partial, let us remind you that the rest of us are here to escape the toxic city fumes, not to have you kill us slowly with your secondhand badness. We suggest you do everyone a favour and light up somewhere private while we fill our lungs with fresh, salty sea air.


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