The Fourth of July marks the height of beach season. After much preparation to clear our schedules and make ourselves beach worthy with requisite tans and new suits to model, the last thing we need is to be bombarded by beach-goers who blast their bad music, pesky children who kick sand onto our towels or thrill-seeking seagulls who swoop down on our homemade fried chicken and expensive imported cheese. Here’s how to avoid being a bum at the beach and how to best enjoy the sand and sea experience on the Fourth of July and all year long.
The last time I checked, topless and nude sunbathing is frowned upon here in America, and in some cases is considered against the law. Unless you’re on a private yacht in the south of France or vacationing in Brazil, kindly keep your bathing suit PG-rated. Private parts should be sufficiently covered. The beach is for families and they are especially in tow on a big summer holiday.
Keep your own stash of supplies
Everyone has their “must have” list of necessities for the beach. Most importantly, the list is to help you be prepared so that you do not have to constantly bother others with your requests for items you forgot at home. The bare minimum: sunscreen, hat, bottled water and towel. Kicking it up a notch: beach chair, umbrella, tunes, books or magazines (old school style), games, a cooler fully stocked with an incredible feast. Recommended for parents: full-day supply of diapers and wipes, a Pack N’ Play and tent for shade, sand toys (by the way, don’t forget to write your name on them so you leave the beach with the same toys you came with), ample sunscreen, snacks and beverages.
The early bird gets the worm
If you are one of those people who perpetually arrives fashionably late, don’t expect to have first dibs on prime real estate. There is plenty of space and no one is entitled to a reserved spot, unless of course, you belong to a private beach club and the attendant has a reserved number of chairs and umbrellas set aside for members. To ensure you do not encroach on another person’s space, ideally there should be about 15 feet distance between you and your neighbor. When selecting your spot, don’t forget to take into consideration high tide. Look for a high water mark, consult a tide chart or ask a lifeguard before settling down for the day.
Setting up shop
If possible, organize your items so that you only have to take one trip on the sand to your spot on the beach. Walking back and forth is exhausting and will tucker you out before your day even begins. Before laying your towels down and inserting your umbrella, check to see which way the wind is blowing so that you don’t blow sand into your neighbor’s direction or block their view. Make every effort to consolidate your items into a small area that will not take valuable beachfront away from others.
Keep it down and watch your language
We are well aware that the beach is outside, but that does not give you carte blanche to blast your latest iTunes mix on your giant speakers or shout profanities to your buddies when we are within earshot trying to enjoy a family day with our kids. On the flip side, parents need to monitor their children and make sure little Mikey and Susie aren’t running amok hurling sand toys and fighting over the last Cheeto while adults are trying to enjoy a little peace and quiet or read the latest bestseller. Being outside entitles everyone to use their outside voice and have fun; just be mindful of how loud and crazy you get and keep it all in check.
Fun in the sun
Game playing is great, but keep it away from others. First of all, it is obnoxious to play ball over others heads while they are trying to relax and secondly, it can be dangerous, especially if there are little ones around. This extends to water playing as well. Look out for others in the water before you engage in spirited splashing, dunking and other horseplay. Maintain control of boogie boards and other water toys so that everyone has a safe day in the sun. A special note to parents: Keep an eye on your children. Organize plenty of activities like building sand castles, playing Frisbee or searching for the most unusual seashell to keep them busy so that they do not wander off or, more importantly, wander into the water without your supervision.
Clean up after yourself
Would you rather swim with the fishes or the garbage? If the former is your preference, make sure to keep our beaches and oceans pristine by maintaining your mess. Please take a garbage bag or paper bag with you to the beach and have the decency to collect all of your trash (that includes food wrappers, diapers, newspapers and whatever else you bring) and then deposit it into one of the large trash receptacles located everywhere.
Don’t bring the beach home with you
Carefully shake all items and sufficiently clean off anything with sticky sand before leaving the beach. Watch your neighbors to make sure you are not blowing sand dust in their wind. There is nothing worse than dust particles of sand found in the car, on the floor or in your bags when you return home. Shake off towels, clean dirty feet, wash out bathing suits and dump all bags before settling into your car or entering the house.
Give it one last look
Before making your final exit, patrol the area all around your beach party scene one last time for any lost items, leftover food or litter.