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13 Things You Should Never Do at the Beach

Safety (and etiquette) first!

Now that the weather is hot, beach season is officially upon us. There's nothing better than going out for seafood afterwards, your skin still warm from the sun and smooth from the sand, listening to the waves break upon the shore while the sea air fills your lungs.

Unfortunately, unless you live on a private island, you have to deal with the worst thing about visiting the beach: other people. Too many treat this public space like it's their own private getaway, to the detriment of people around them. Oftentimes, we forget the manners that we teach our own kids about how to have fun without annoying everyone around you. And there are things as adults that we should do, but don't.

So read on to get some practical guidance and etiquette lessons that will make you beach day fun for you—and for the folks tanning behind you. And if you're looking for a sandy paradise yourself, check out The 30 Best Beaches in America.

Play Music Out Loud

john cusack boombox scene in "say anything"

You are not John Cusack. People come to the beach in order to relax and get away from their hectic lives. And that does not include listening to your favorite tunes. You might think that you're amazing taste in music is for the benefit of everyone around you, but it's actually rude and self-centered to play DJ. In fact, playing music out loud is always a nuisance, and it's one of the 30 Things That Always Annoy People in Cities.

Play Tackle Football

football on turf

Setting up a designated volleyball net in an empty area far away from tanners is fine, but playing any game that could result in hitting someone in the face is not. And that includes frisbee, especially since frisbee players often lung to catch their target, kicking sand up at unsuspecting people trying to take a nap.

Leave Your Phone Out

phone in sand and water at beach

Given that people are unhealthily addicted to social media nowadays, it's no surprise that you often see people checking their Instagram feeds for hours while at the beach. Your phone will freeze up if it overheats, and water and electricity are a dangerous combination. If you really want to listen to music while laying out, you can keep your phone is a special insulated pouch, or wrap it tightly inside a towel. But the best thing to do is to give yourself a detox and just leave it in your bag.

Feed the Seagulls

seagull at beach

Fat seagulls might look cute, but obesity is just as much of problem for animals as it is for humans. Seagulls aren't meant to live on a diet of leftover french fries and hot dogs. Plus, it encourages them to invite their friends to the party, and before you know it, you'll be surrounded by an army of fast food vultures. Placing cucumbers on your eyes to keep them cool isn't safe either, as they could easily peck your eye out in an attempt to grab a tasty snack.

Shake Your Towel Near Others

shaking beach towel

This one is tough because wind comes from all directions, so no matter how hard you try to pick your towel up so that the sand goes into a specific direction, it inevitably winds up going everywhere. Sprinkling a sleeping stranger with sand is one of the worst things you can do at the beach, so it's worth the effort to drag the towel out to an empty area to ensure you don't end up choking anyone with airborne sand.

Forget Water

energy boosters

It's critical to stay hydrated when you're out in the sun and heat all day, so it's important to bring along a thermos filled with water. Sunlight is actually a secret weapon to weight loss, and working out in hot weather can be great exercise, but it can also be very dangerous or even fatal if you don't drink plenty of H2O.

Keep Your Dog in the Sun

dog on surfboard wearing sunglasses

Dogs tend to love the beach, but the goofy grin on your buddy's face and the way he's panting with joy might be a sign that he's overheated. As with humans, this can be fatal for dogs, so it's crucial to keep them hydrated with a doggy water bottle and make sure they have access to plenty of shade. For more tips, check out 5 Genius Ways to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer.


best skin

Given everything we know about how much smoking contributes to an early grave, it's mind-boggling that people still do it. Studies have shown that even having just one cigarette a day can significantly shorten your lifespan. And those that do smoke often think it's perfectly fine to light up at the beach because, hey, it's outside, right? With the wind coming from all directions, however, you're certainly to blow that toxic air into someone's face, including those of children.

Go Too Deep

40 compliments

Even if you're an experienced swimmer, it's very dangerous to heed the siren call of the ocean and go in too far, because you never know when you'll get caught into a riptide. They're notoriously difficult to spot, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 100 people drown every year due to the undertow.

Play Drowning Games

belize water ocean travel

When I was a kid, my best friend and I liked to play two beach games that I am now shocked the lifeguards didn't have an issue with. One was called Seahorse, and involved sitting on someone's back while they do a dolphin-swim underwater. The other one was called Pop the Bottle, which consisted of pushing someone under water and holding them down there until they popped back up to the surface. Both of these are extremely dangerous and it's a miracle no one drowned. Fun fact: lifeguards also don't appreciate it when you play any game that involves yelling "Help!" to your team players.

Forget Suncreen

bad beauty products

We all know the dangers of skin cancer, and yet many people still eschew sunscreen because they worry it'll inhibit their ability to get the perfect tan. Your olive skin will only last a few days, but skin cancer will stick around. In addition to cancer, not wearing sunscreen can contribute to early signs of aging, like dark spots and wrinkles.

A lot of sunscreen only protects from UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and not UVA rays, which cause wrinkles, which is why it's important to choose a sunscreen that has broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 30 sunscreen is strong enough to block out almost 97 percent of UVB radiation, and experts say it's still low enough to ensure you get some color. And don't forget to reapply after swimming and every two hours that you spend in the sun. For more ways to safeguard yourself against the disease, learn (and cut out) the 20 Habits That Increase Your Risk of Skin Cancer.

Shave Beforehand

close-up of woman shaving legs

Everyone wants smooth skin when they go to the beach, but shaving before the beach can lead to razor burn, as saltwater irritates the small cuts made by the razor. To avoid those ugly red bumps, it's best to shave at least 24 hours before going, and to moisturize thoroughly afterwards.

Drink Alcohol

beach drinking, alcohol on beach

Given that alcohol is synonymous with relaxation, lots of people like to sip on a nice cold beer or have a glass of wine while enjoying their fun in the sun. But, first of all, drinking booze is illegal on many public beaches, and people do get tickets for doing it. More importantly, alcohol raises your body temperature, which means it increases your risk of overheating. It also dehydrates you, which is the last thing you want on a hot day. Not to mention, booze will only curb your beach bod goals.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more