Being on a beach is an essential part of a vacation for many. Types of beaches and practices vary, as do the activities visitors come there for — mostly water sports.


A crowded beach in Spain
A rocky freshwater beach in Scotland

A beach is an area of loose sloping material (sand, rocks, gravel or pebbles) between the land and either the sea or a freshwater lake or river. The composition of the beach can often be important in deciding if it is really suitable for your use. A sand beach is usually more comfortable to sit or lie on than a pebble one.

On a seaside beach the area nearest the sea will be covered by water twice a day when the tide comes in – this means that the size of the beach can vary greatly during the day. Freshwater beaches are not affected by tides, but water levels in lakes can vary, and there may be less beach after heavy rain or at the height of the rainy season in tropic or Mediterranean (winter rain, summer dry) climates.

A useful method of identifying good beaches near your holiday destination is to look at those with a Blue Flag eco award. However this list does tend to concentrate on beaches that have developed facilities, rather than remote empty ones.

Get in

As most people come to the beaches, they are usually not too difficult to travel to. Places with extensive public transportation might even have a stop named "beach" that is as close as you can get on firm dry ground to the beach. Some beaches are reserved for patrons of a specific tourist businesses or group of tourist businesses. There are also beaches off the beaten track, free to use for anybody who wanders off enough (in countries where they are not regarded private property).


Some beaches charge a fee. At other beaches – particularly those important to the breeding of certain species of turtles – you may need a permit to enter at certain times or not be allowed to enter at all despite the beach being open during other times of the year.




Many people enjoy working as lifeguards. If you have the requisite skills and are a citizen or have a work permit in your target area, you may be able to enjoy spending your days on the beach all summer getting paid.

Another type of work allowing you to be on the beach all day is selling refreshments such as cold drinks, ice cream or snacks from a cart or a kiosk.

Of course this work tends to be highly seasonal, even in tropical countries, where beaches may be next to empty in the dry season. Pay can be good, but if you aren't from the area, accommodation will significantly diminish your income and you will be paying peak season rates, naturally.


Popular beaches attract salespersons of all kinds, but be careful as their merchandise may often be of sub-par quality or overpriced. Haggling is often practiced with this type of vendor, especially if they operate a mobile operation and don't have fixed stalls.


Some beaches have cafés or stalls selling food either on the beach or very close to it. In other cases you will have to bring everything with you, from shops a long distance away. On quieter remote beaches there may be a chance to gather wild seaweed or shellfish or to catch a fish.

Note that on some beaches (especially those which are considered private property), eating and drinking may not be permitted.

Wild food

A shellfish safety notice in England

It is important to enquire locally before gathering any wild food from a beach. Three key things to ask about are:

Some shellfish like mussels can be found attached to rocks. Others like cockles can be found on the tidal part of a sandy beach, covered by an inch or three of sand.


It is important to make sure you have a sufficient water supply, whether that means using water fountains that are in some cases provided near the beach or bringing your own drinks. Do be careful, though, about alcohol: Avoid going into the water if there's any chance you may be impaired by alcohol, as that greatly increases the risks of drowning and other types of accidents. Alcohol also increases the risk of dehydration.


Many beaches have accommodation nearby – hotels, hostels or campsites. At more popular beaches it is often significantly cheaper to find somewhere to stay a short distance back from the beach, avoiding the premium rates charged by places directly on the beach.

At more remote beaches, you may be able to wild camp near the beach. It is often best to avoid camping on the beach itself, as the site is often exposed and you may get caught out by extra high tides. Instead head a short distance inland, going beyond any dunes to avoid damaging this fragile terrain. Know local laws: in some countries the beach is a commons, while you risk committing trespass inland.

Stay safe

See also: Water sports#Stay safe


Dress code

There are naturalist beaches, beaches where toplessness is common and beaches with stricter requirements — some of them much stricter, such as if you go to the beach in Iran. Whether children have to follow the dress code also varies.

See also

Packing for beach travel

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, November 28, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.