By Lynn Selich

 These last, precious few weeks of summer and the unbearable heat, are driving throngs of visitors and locals alike to southern California’s beautiful beaches. Hearing the siren call of the cool surf, folks are hitting the coast big time.

Most people are pretty aware of the do’s and don’ts of beach etiquette. But after observing the trash left behind at the beach by some visitors, it occurred to me that people should view visiting the beach similar to being in a friend’s backyard, not their own. I mean, who would leave a pile of Taco Bell bags and soda cans in a friend’s garden? Certain beach rules apply so that everyone can enjoy their visit and leave with a smile on their face.

Public beaches are a delicious luxury, and a rare commodity for most, and should be treated as such. Not only from an environmental standpoint, it’s also as a way of showing civility and politeness.

In support of this notion, here is my top 12 list for beach behavior to help make seaside adventures more pleasant and relaxing for everyone.

  1. Take everything you bring to the beach back home with you. This includes trash if the trashcans are overflowing. It won’t kill you to throw stuff away back at home.
  2. Remember that voices travel in the wind, so if you are on your cell phone or desperately trying to get the kids to put on sunscreen, try and use your “beach voice”.
  3. Don’t play Frisbee or any game that ends with “ball” over the heads of, or in close proximity to beachgoers. There’s nothing worse than dosing off to the sound of the surf, only to be rudely awakened by thwap on the noggin from an arrant Frisbee.
  4. Keep your music to yourself. Use earphones, or if you must play the latest rap or whatever, keep the volume down to a minimum. I like opera, but I don’t force my fellow beachgoers to listen to Don Giovanni at full volume.
  5. Boogie boarders: watch out for the little ones, and the big ones too for that matter. You’re not the only ones in the water, and being perched on foam does not make you the “Wave King”. There’s plenty of ocean for everyone to enjoy.
  6. Insert your umbrella into the sand at an angle and note the direction the wind is blowing, so that it blows against the umbrella, not underneath it. I learned this the hard way once on Balboa Island when a stiff wind came up and launched my umbrella half way down the street. Talk about embarrassing, but more importantly, thank goodness it didn’t hit anyone or anything!
  7. Unless the sand is scorching, take off flip flops so they don’t go flipping sand on everyone you walk past.
  8. It’s a nice gesture if you are with a gaggle of kids to try and find an area where other kids are playing, that way people who are trying to relax sans the squeals of delight in close proximity.
  9. It should go without saying whenever shaking sand off towels, chairs, etc., move a good distance downwind of any neighbors so as not to give them a sand blast. There’s nothing worse than biting in to a gritty PB&J sandwich.
  10. If possible, try and find a spot that is at least a distance of about 15 feet so that it gives everyone some space and conversations can be had without disturbing your neighbor. Remember sound travels in the wind on the beach.
  11. Never bring glass to the beach. Ever.  I stepped on a broken beer bottle that was hidden in the sand when I was a kid and it made for a very unpleasant end to an otherwise fun day for me and my panicked parents.
  12. And finally, don’t be a butthead. Smoke upwind if you absolutely can’t control your craving, and remember while, yes, we’re outside, the smell of the salt air is what everyone is enjoying, not that of a dirty ashtray. Which by the way, the beach is not, so if you must smoke don’t leave your butts in the sand.

And with that, I wish everyone very happy beach blanket bliss!