Spending a day at the beach can be an absolute pleasure. Your beach buddies, however, can make it noticeably less enjoyable.
“In general, etiquette is about being considerate of others, which certainly includes being considerate of other people at the beach,” Nick Leighton, an etiquette expert and co-host of The “Were you raised by wolves? podcast, told HuffPost. “Although you are on the outside, you are not alone and your behavior can and does affect other people.”
To make days at the beach more enjoyable for you and others, HuffPost asked Leighton and other etiquette experts to share some common faux pas they should avoid on the shore. Here are some rude behaviors to avoid at the beach.
Encroachment on others’ space
“Find a place at least three steps away from other people’s things,” suggested Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “The idea here is to give others some personal space. The spacing should allow bathers to walk between your towel and the other towel without kicking up sand on either one.
If it’s too crowded and you need to be a little closer to others, be extra careful when walking to avoid kicking up sand or disrupting their time at the beach.
“Don’t assume other people want to talk,” said Diane Gottsmanan etiquette expert, author of “Modern etiquette for a better life” and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “Watch their body language and if they engage, feel free to continue. If they put on their earbuds, it’s a sign that they want to be left alone.
Also, be mindful of people behind you when setting up your zone.
“Many beachgoers like to bring all the comforts of home,” Smith said. “It’s fine as long as it doesn’t block others from enjoying the view. Your umbrella or tent shouldn’t block others from seeing the water.
Ignore the smoking etiquette
Continue to pay attention to the people around you if you decide to smoke at the beach as well. This includes paying attention to where you smoke and what you do when you’re done.
“If you’re on a beach that still allows smoking and you want to light up, you’ll have to head to the beach,” Smith said. “Make sure you dispose of your butts appropriately. It can be very dangerous for birds, dogs and children to ingest cigarette butts that they have found “buried” in the sand.
Not respecting local wildlife
Of course, every beach is different, but as a general rule, it’s best to avoid feeding birds and other animals along the shoreline, as this can impact the local ecosystem. Also, be careful not to disturb them in other ways.
“Beaches allow us to connect with nature – fish, snails and other living things,” Smith said. “While it’s fun to pretend the starfish is your pet, it needs to be released before you get home.”
Shake the sand off the people
“It’s rude to shake your sand towel or clothing near others or in the direction of the wind,” said etiquette expert Juliet Mitchell, also known as Ms J. “Sand in the mouth, in the eyes and on the body does not go well with others.”
Smith echoed that rule — recommending a “gather, then shake” approach at the end of your day at the beach.
“Stay away from people before shaking out any of your blankets and towels that have accumulated sand,” she said. “The more wind there is, the further you have to go. That makes packing a two-step process, but waving sand in people’s eyes isn’t a great way to end a great day.
Play games by others
“For all play, find an open area away from others,” Leighton advised. “Frisbees flying overhead can make some people nervous.”
In the interest of respecting people’s space, establish some distance between your activities and other bathers ― both to avoid balls and other objects rushing by and for sand purposes.
“Set up your volleyball net away from other people,” Gottsman urged. “The same goes for games in the sand that involve lifting sand.”
Another reason to set up your game away from others, by reducing distracting noise. Many people go to the beach for peace and relaxation.
“Things like loud music and cellphone conversations easily travel beyond the boundaries of your coverage and affect others, so be aware of what escapes your bubble,” Leighton said.
Also pay attention to the volume and content of your conversations with your group.
“Watch your language, especially around children,” Mitchell advised. “Be respectful, considerate and be civil. No profanity and no fighting.
leave a mess
There’s no excuse for leaving your beach worse off than you found it. Litter is not only rude (and illegal), it’s dangerous.
“Please don’t litter, especially on purpose, and clear your area before you leave,” Mitchell urged.
Not following the rules
Both public and private beaches have rules and guidelines listed, and it is important to follow them.
“Follow signs that act as warnings for your safety and the safety of others,” Gottsman said.
Familiarize yourself with the different flags and their meanings. Do not venture beyond the authorized limits.
“Boundaries are set for a reason,” Mitchell said. “Stay within ‘swimming limits’ or other limits that could injure yourself or others.”
And don’t just adhere to the explicitly written rules.
“All etiquette is local and it’s important to learn and follow local customs,” Leighton said. “Each beach has its own.”