How to Behave at a California Beach

Oh, summer at the beach!  Palm trees, sunny days, and endless sand. It would be so perfect if not for people…

A man sitting at the beach with a beach chair and surfboard.

As someone who lives at a California beach year-round, I witness a lot of shenanigans by visitors.  This is probably because no one has ever taken the time to explain the rules.  After all, before I moved to the beach, no one sat me down and discussed beach etiquette.  If they had, I might not have worn tennis shoes on the sand and been cruelly mocked as a  “shoebie” by my step-kids.

Here are my tips for your next visit to beach:

Music: It is a beautiful, quiet day on the sand.  The sound of crashing waves envelopes you.  You may be dozing or reading a book in blissful relaxation.  I’m sorry, we have to interrupt this idyllic vision because someone is loudly sharing that song you hate with the entire beach.  Headphones.  They are called headphones.  Use them.

Sand:  Sand is one of the reasons we come to the beach.  Where else can you lie down on the ground for hours and it doesn’t hurt?  Sand is Mother Nature’s mattress.

Tragically, sand really hurts when you throw it in someone’s eyes.  I don’t think anyone does this on purpose, unless they are truly evil.  Or bored.  But, people run around like maniacs accidentally flinging sand into the blankets and eyes of everyone they pass.

The solution is simple.  Walk slowly past anyone lying on the beach, and pay attention to what your flip-flops are doing.  When you are done for the day, shake out the sand from your belongings very slowly and close to the ground.


Image of sand at the beach.

Sand. Lots of Sand.

Dogs:  If you cannot bear to leave man’s best friend at home, then this is going to be tough for you to read.  It’s kind of gross to have your dogs running around the beach pooping and peeing everywhere.  It makes me not want to lie down on the sand so much.  It is my duty, then, to tell you that dogs are not allowed on many California beaches or piers by law.

If only there was a solution to make everyone happy.  Hmmm… Oh, I know!  Maybe we can take our dogs a half mile down the road to DOG BEACH.  Seriously, there are beaches designated for dogs.  Find one.

Image of dog bags at Dog Beach.

Dog Beach

Kids: I know you are on vacation.  You really want to close your eyes, listen to the ocean, and forget all about being a parent for ten minutes.  It really isn’t too much to ask, and I understand how you are feeling.  However, I have trouble enjoying the beach myself while your kids are drowning.

Smoking:  C’mon.  This is Southern California.  In the eyes of Californians, the only crime worse than smoking would be killing Santa Claus.  Did you really think you can smoke at the beach?  Also, vaping is still smoking.

Respecting the Bike Path:  Pedestrians and bicyclists share miles of beach paths in California.  They are heavily trafficked and are like slow-moving mini-freeways.  Some tourists get a little insulted when bicyclists ring their bells at them.  We are doing it for your own good.

For instance, if you have chosen to lie across the entire bike path doing yoga poses, I may ever-so-gently ring my bell.  I am doing this not out of anger.  I am alerting you to the fact that, despite my best efforts to slow down, I am about to hit you.

Image of a bike at the beach.

My Vicious Bike Next to the Bike Path

Drinking: When I read a draft of this post to my husband, the first thing he said was, “This is a really snarky-sounding post.”  Then, he told me to mention that drinking is illegal on the beach.  He thought for a moment and said, “I guess it really isn’t a problem if someone sneaks a little  booze onto the beach.  I mean, people are there to have a good time.”  He concluded by saying, “You probably just shouldn’t mention it at all.”  Apparently, some rules, as long as you aren’t sloppy about it, are meant to be broken?

Have a great summer!  If you follow all of the above tips, we will have a fantastic time together at the beach. (See what I did there?  I tried to make this post sound less snarky.)

Image of surfboard art at the beach.

Happy Summer!