35 Vintage Photos That Show What a Beach Day Used to Look Like
Beach days are the best days—no matter what decade you're in.
The beach has always been a popular summer hangout, whether today or a century ago. While the salty breeze and peaceful waves have the same allure, the beach itself looks quite different now than it did then. In past decades, there were no iPhones, wireless bluetooth speakers, and teeny, weeny bikinis. Instead, friends flocked to the sand in more modest bathing suits—and sometimes full outfits with heels!—to laze away the afternoon by sunbathing, bouncing beach balls, or fishing for a fresh catch. So, browse through these vintage beach photos and get a glimpse of simpler times at the seaside. And for more retro flashbacks, check out the 50 Vintage Photos That Show What Traveling Used to Look Like.
Two pretty girls in matching bikinis and a dreamboat in the middle is a simple equation for fun in the sun in the 1950s.
In the 1970s, it was still romantic to take your sweetheart for a long walk on the beach.
These two guitar players had the whole group groovin' at this teen beach party in the 1970s. And for more scenic snapshots, check out the 33 Vintage Photos That Show That Our Parents Were Actually Really Cool.
You may not want to get wet when you go to the beach, but even in the 1950s, majority ruled.
Dapper beach crew
Lined robes, panama hats, and full suits! Going to the beach in the 1930s was an opportunity to see and be seen.
Family fun in the sun
A Sunday funday perhaps? With a sweet raft like that, spending the entire day in the waves is the only acceptable option.
Water-skiing wonder woman
Thrill seekers in the '50s—like this darling daredevil in Miami—needed only a pair of water skis and a speedboat to make them happy.
These beach book worms wanted to hear one thing only: the sound of crashing waves.
Ride with a view
Two women take in the view from the Parachute Jump ride at Coney Island in 1950. At the time, Coney Island was the country's largest amusement park, drawing millions of annual visitors to its boardwalk and beach. And for more images from the golden age of travel, check out the 15 Beautiful Vintage Photos of Famous U.S. Tourist Attractions.
Family fishing excursion
A day at the beach in the 1920s meant a fresh catch for dinner—if you're lucky like this duo!
Magazine? Check! Radio? Check! This seaside sweetheart is ready for a full day of sunbathing.
Teen dance party
For teens in the 1960s, some good tunes and space to dance in the sand made the beach a blast.
Beauties in bathing costumes
A coterie of French women compare swimsuit styles outside of their cabanas in the coastal town of Dieppe in 1925. And for more gorgeous pictures from around the world, check out the 27 Totally Insane Travel Photos You Won't Believe Are Real.
You know you're a serious sun seeker when you lug a full-size backgammon table all the way down the beach!
Colorful beach bathers
These 1930s fashionistas formed the ultimate girl squad on a beach in St. Petersburg, Florida.
This group of kids spent an afternoon in the 1960s hanging around Laguna Beach, California… literally!
Tunes on the sand
Looking for a way to jazz up your day at the beach? Bring a portable gramophone like this woman did in the 1930s.
A towel, sand toys, and a cooler full of snacks make for one groovy '70s family picnic.
Sunny stage show
Sun, sand, and surf weren't the only seaside attractions a century ago. This 1928 stage show is a classic example of beach entertainment in days past.
Catching waves has always been the number one past time of surfer dudes. Here, one man hangs ten in the 1920s.
No sandy towels to shake out for these folks! Beach cabanas were the way to go in 1910.
Spectacular sand sculpture
Part whale, part shark, all fun! This little girl watches a sand creation take shape in 1979.
Joyful sun seekers
Come on in, the water's fine! This group keeps cool in 1905 by socializing during low tide.
Incredible beach trolley
How romantic is a sky tram? This one cruises over Ocean Beach in San Francisco as the sun begins its descent, circa 1964. And for more stunning coastal escapes, check out the 17 Best Secret Beach Towns in America.
Ocean water slide
You could slide directly into the surf on this impressive water slide, circa 1910.
These formally dressed sunbathers take in the views of New York's Brighton Beach from their awning-covered, wooden chairs in 1915.
Fashionable beach babes
Who wouldn't want to wear one of these incredible 1940s halter-top bikinis? Luckily, the high-waisted look is fashionable again if you want to try it out for yourself.
Game of catch
There was no shortage of silly games to play in the '50s. Case in point: this backwards game of catch.
Bump, set, spike! A challenging game of beach volleyball in San Juan, Puerto Rico, probably sent this group home sore.
Friends don't let friends sunburn! The bottle may be small, but the swimsuits did offer more coverage back then.
Bold beach goers
It's impossible not to smile along with this colorful couple in Florida, circa 1960.
Seaside viewing area
A shady, open-air beach viewing area—like this one in 1923—meant having a place to cool off, even if you weren't a fan of sand in your shoes.
Trio of sand loungers
These sunbathers got cozy in their very own sand pit on the German island of Norderney in the 1930s.
Race to the waves
There's no question these boys followed their foot race down to the water with tons of splashing and dunking.
Sand castle competition
There's a formula to creating a sturdy sand castle, and the talent was clearly on display at this competition on Manhattan Beach, California, in 1981. And if you're curious what shopping used to looked like, check out the 15 Vintage Shopping Mall Photos That'll Make You Nostalgic.