Beach Bum Etiquette: What Every Tourist Needs to Know

Okay my sand seeking sun loving vacation raging buddies! Here’s the deal for hitting our beaches with class, and keeping your wits about you in the process.  We love you to visit, but there are a few things you need to know right up front, and the tour books are not going to tell you.

1) When you finally arrive at the beach, lugging enough paraphernalia for a camping trip, and start down the beach looking for prime real estate to set up shop, please spread out. What I mean is, if you find there is plenty of sand to go around, please stop putting your base camp two feet from my own. All I have is two towels laid out and a knapsack. Do you really need to park your igloo cooler right in front of my view of the ocean? Which way is the wind blowing? Are your kids actually going to start tossing sand into my stuff while I listen to you debate where to plant the beach umbrella? Do not make me have to mention “playing with jellyfish” to little Timmy.

2) When you show up wearing civilian clothes, I have to watch you during the next two hours, slowly ruining and removing them. Don’t even bother taking your shoes and socks out of your car. Flip-flops are a good choice if your tender feet have never seen fresh air before, and buy cheap ones because they will not stay on more than ten minutes and they will either be forgotten, washed out by the tide, or buried in the sand by little Timmy. Do not wear jeans. Have you ever felt the misery that is wet denim? Go ahead, roll them up. Pretend you’re only going to stick your toes in the water. I’ll wait.

There, did I tell you so?

3) Once your clothes are off, for the love of Aunt Mabel (you brought her, too, didn’t you?) put on sunscreen. You can borrow mine. But you are going to have fried fannies, among other parts and I can’t look at you without cringing. It is NOT a badge of honor that you burnt. It means you can’t take care of your skin. You will not acquire a California tan in one day or even a week of vacationing, so please don’t try the hard way.

4) Okay, this one gets a bit tricky. We are in California, not Spain, and as emancipated and progressive as we claim to be, we will shudder EVERY TIME you guys get down to a pair of Speedos. Please don’t make us watch you strip down and then change into Speedos. We rock the swim trunks/board shorts here. My son played water polo in high school, so I can see there’s certain liberation when a guy is that secure in his manhood, although my kid always doubled up on game days, since teams tried hard to “pants” each other when no one was looking. I don’t know. Call me uptight if you must, but while Europe has embraced the human body in all of its glorious diversity, we modest Americans are also scandalized by topless sunbathing. You’ll get a ticket. Don’t do that either.

5) Seagulls are flying vermin. We won’t feed your basement rats and you shouldn’t feed our gulls. Squirrels are also an issue on beaches full of rock or ice plant bluffs. You will hear them chirping from their look-out perches, signaling to the squirrel pups that lunch is about to be served. The minute you dash to the water, the critters attack your camp. The seagulls know how to open your bags, grab anything in Ziplocs, and fight up and down the beach trying to rip them open. I had a squirrel actually chew a hole through a cloth backpack and run off with my granola bar. I think they used the silver wrapper as wallpaper in their burrow. Gr.

We also frown on littering, smoking, alcohol and dogs (with a couple of exceptions) but these tips should get you started off right. You may choose to attack our beaches in your own unique and special way, of course. I enjoy hearing all of your accents and watching you look around at everyone else while pretending you’re not. It’s hilarious that you think because I’m wearing sunglasses and a hat that I can’t see or hear you. Yes, I know where the sharks are. Yes, I could teach you the “sting-ray shuffle”.  But little Timmy might not want to put his bucket of crabs down right beside me.

Not if you’re wearing Speedos.

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