I'm a San Francisco-based freelance writer and blogger with nearly 10 years of writing experience behind me.
What Can You Do at the Beach?
It's always summertime somewhere, and for many people, that means hitting up the local beach or visiting a beach town while on vacation. If you think that spending time at the beach is limited to just swimming, there's a lot more that you're missing out on! Here are some of the most fun things that you can do at the beach besides just going swimming.
1. Look for Dolphins
Many beaches all over the world offer the chance to see dolphins right from the shore—if you know what you're looking for and when to look. Do a little bit of research to see if your beaches apply and if so, check the best times to visit. Don't forget your camera!
2. Play on the Boardwalk
A lot of beaches also have accompanying boardwalks where you can play arcade games, ride rollercoasters, eat delicious and unhealthy amusement park food, just walk around, and even enjoy free summer concerts on the sand. Check their respective websites to see what will be featured on the day you'll be there.
3. Play Frisbee
Frisbee is a classic beach game that people never get tired of enjoying together. There's only one prop needed, and it's very easy (and cheap) to get. You can even play with your dogs (if you're on a pet-friendly beach). There are also more advanced versions like Frisbee golf, Ultimate Frisbee, and Aerobie, but the basic version will do just fine.
4. Go Hiking
Many beaches offer nearby trails where you can hike to or from the water. This offers great exercise, and the water is good for cooling down after the hike. On top of that, you get to catch some beautiful views while being immersed in nature.
5. Have a Picnic
There are always a lot of food vendors near popular beaches, but sometimes it's nice to pack yourself a picnic with fancy cheeses and fresh fruits and go indulge at the beach. If you're going with a big group, make it a fun (and delicious) potluck where everyone can contribute an easy dish—a variety of foods makes for a great beach picnic.
6. Go Fishing
Fishing is one of the most relaxing things that you can do at the beach and something people have been doing for centuries. It's something that you can focus on or just leave in the backdrop—your choice. The best part is, you might catch your dinner!
7. Read Magazines
A beach vacation is supposed to be completely relaxing. Park yourself under a shady umbrella, enjoy the warm breeze, and read some magazines or indulge in a cheap novel. There may never be enough time during your regular schedule to flip through a magazine, so take advantage of the opportunity you have at the beach.
8. Go Window Shopping at the Little Seaside Shops
The majority of beaches are located in beach towns. A lot of these places are quaint and fun to explore—or at least take a stroll through. These towns also typically have a bunch of little stores set up along the beach. Spend some time browsing when you're ready to get out of the sun. Stop and grab a sweet treat too—maybe ice cream or saltwater taffy.
9. Go Surfing
Surfing is a great water sport. Get out on the water and have an adventure instead of just being lazy. You can also dedicate an hour or two to take a surf lesson and then lounge for the rest of your time on the beach. You could also try any other kind of water sport, such as kayaking, jet-ski racing, waterskiing, or kitesurfing.
10. Have a Bonfire Party
Bonfires are a ton of fun. Make sure that your specific beach allows for fires, though. Many of them don't. For the ones that do, it's a lot of fun to have a nice fire going on a cool night. You can hold a gathering where friends and family come together to play music, have good conversation, dance, roast marshmallows, and just have a great time.
11. Go Topless
There's something really brave about getting naked in public. It's an experience that can make you feel courageous and bold—it should be tried at least once. Of course, you have to make sure that you're doing this at a nude beach. Otherwise, you're going to get into some serious trouble!
12. Hula Hoop
Or play catch. Or jump rope. Or fly a kite. Engage in some sort of child's play, using cheap toys that you can pick up at a nearby store. This will bring back the wonder of what it was like to go to the beach as a kid. It's also just really fun and a great stress reliever.
13. Write Poetry
Bring a notebook with you and get carried away with your words and creativity. The beach has been inspiring poems and songs for centuries now, so you might as well join the tribe of people who like to write when they're by the water. Other creative writing options include starting that novel you've always wanted to write or simply keeping a diary of your trip.
14. Meet People
Beaches are filled with people, so there's no reason that you can't make new friends. Games on the sand—like volleyball—make this easy, but there are lots of ways to meet people at the beach. Look online to see if there are any upcoming social gatherings or meet-ups at the beach.
15. Look for Seashells
You can troll the beach looking for seashells and colored glass. Take photos of the best shells so that you can research them when you get home, or make some shell art on the sand and take a photo to remember it by. Please keep in mind that in some places, it's illegal to take shells from the beach, and it's often highly discouraged in places where it's still technically legal.
16. Take Photographs
The beach is a great place for taking some beautiful photos. On top of that, those photos will be great memories to take home after the trip. Wander along with your digital camera, see what there is to see, and snap away.
17. Search for Historic Sites
Many beaches are located near places of historic importance, which are marked with monuments or signs. You can find these in the most unexpected of places. Keep an eye out for military batteries on the water, historic lighthouses, and old battlegrounds. This is another great opportunity for your camera as well.
18. Catch Up on Phone Calls
With cell phones working almost everywhere these days, you should have no problem getting connected to others at the beach. It's a great place to catch up on phone calls while getting a tan—and everyone you call will be jealous because of where you are!
Of course, remember to be mindful of not speaking too loudly or obnoxiously. You may be in an outdoor public area, but so are many others—they're looking to relax and not unintentionally eavesdrop. Save the personal, private conversations for another time.
19. Look for Little Critters
Most people who go looking for animals at the beach are looking for whales, seals, or dolphins. Turn your focus to the little critters, like crabs, birds, and jellyfish. Spend the day seeing how many different animals you can count. Make it a goal and snap pictures for each one so you can catalog your findings.
20. Write Messages in the Sand
You can write them big or small. Say anything you want and then take a picture that will last forever. These pictures can be made into unique postcards to send to the folks back home.
21. Watch the Sunset
You could also watch the sunrise if you get there early enough. This activity is a favorite for many at the beach, as it should be, because it's such a breathtaking sight to see—you'll never tire of it. Take in the day (or morning) and reflect on what you've accomplished.
22. Celebrate a Holiday or Special Occasion
People often go to the beach to watch Fourth of July fireworks or to celebrate a honeymoon. There's nothing like the crashing waves and the sand between your toes to ring in a special occasion.
You're sitting around at the beach with no commitments for the time being (at least, that's how it ideally should be) and nothing demanding your attention. That's a great time to just hang out and daydream a little bit. Envision what you want your life to look like in five or ten years, where you wish you could travel, or what you would do if you won the lottery. Let your mind and fantasies carry you away in the best way possible.
You don't have to daydream or take pictures or do anything really. You can just sit there and relax. Breathe, meditate, and take a nap. Just be and relax. You're on vacation, after all!
25. Build a Sandcastle
This is a classic beach activity for kids and adults alike. From the simplest design to the most elaborate, sandcastles help you pass the time at the beach while doing something really creative and fun. Try Googling sandcastles for some inspiring ideas!
The truth of the matter is that going to the beach is going to be fun, no matter what you do there. You're getting away from real life for a bit and you'll hopefully enjoy a scenic travel destination—or at least just get away from home and go to your town's local beach. It's just nice to know that there are plenty of things to do besides suntan and swim while you're there!
Have you tried any of the above activities? Also, what are some of your favorite things to do at the beach? Comment below and share with us all!
© 2008 Kathryn Vercillo