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beachIf you haven’t noticed, the rush to the beach is on. The final two weeks of July and first two weeks of August are traditionally the busiest for the nation’s beaches, which means that your little piece of sun comes at a premium. For 15 years, I went to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and always made a point not to go during these doggiest days of summer.

Still, there’s no denying the siren call of the surf when the temperature soars and the cheesy paperback beckons. It’s been a brutal summer for millions, so any solace near a body of water has come as a great relief. Dr. Beach, the self-proclaimed “America’s Foremost Beach Expert,” (hey, I want that job!) named his Top 10 U.S. beaches for 2011 a while back, and I was happy to see that I’ve been to two of them: Cape Hatteras, N.C. and Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne.

But here’s the rub: Beach days are a rare commodity for most, so it’s always a drag and a half when someone else puts a damper on your chill time. I was at Delaware Beach State Park a few weeks ago for a lone day (sigh), but it was nearly perfect: sunny and temperate, packed but peaceful, water cool but refreshing. Though it seemed as if there were more people underfoot than grains of sand, the place was eerily quiet mid-afternoon while everything from tots to seagulls were napping.

Slideshow: The World’s Best Beaches

It could have gone the other way, of course. Here then are my five tips for beach etiquette, though it all comes down to just having a little respect for your fellow sunburn victim:

- Don’t smoke upwind of me. Yes, you’re outside, but I’d rather smell the salt air than something akin to a bingo hall. (Yeah, I’ll go there: Bravo for outdoor smoking bans.)

- Don’t play Frisbee (or football, or volleyball or fill-in-the-blank-ball) over my head or inches from my chair. You may be having a good time, but I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for something to whap me on the noggin.

- Drag your blanket to that empty stretch of beach where no one is near the dunes and shake it out. Nothing’s worse than unwanted Lasik. And, while we’re at it, I’d prefer you walk around my towel and not over it and on top of my lunch.

- Keep your music to yourself. I beg of you.

- This one’s for you boogie boarders: Watch out for the little ones (and the big ones, for that matter) when you’re, uh, boogie-boarding. You’re not the only ones in the water.

Not so hard, right? But don’t worry about your kids laughing and screaming as they run in and out of the waves — at the beach, that particular sound is music to the ears. What bad beach behavior irks you?

– written by John Deiner

3 Responses to “When the Coast Is Crowded: 5 Ways to Avoid a Beach Brawl”

  1. Lee B says:

    What kills me the most, is when I am settled in my spot on the beach, and there is AMPLE room on the beach (as in, the closet person next to me is at least 50 or 100′ away or often more)… and someone plops down RIGHT NEXT TO ME…within 15′!!! and then they proceed to unpack stuff for 10 more people, who all follow within a half hour. Then, they spread out their stuff CLOSER to me, so as to sometimes be within touching distance! They are close enough for me to hear every word they utter, including the rude and/or moronic observations about passerby people, the crying baby, the fighting children, and the constant arguing — all day long. This happens every time it seems! My rule, when looking for a spot to pick out on the beach, is to find an ‘open space’ in the crowd, and then pick the halfway point. That way, I am not intruding on someone else who got there before me, and they in turn do not intrude on my day at the beach! Sheesh!

    • Penny W. says:

      Amen! What I try to do now is put something like the carrier on wheels we use to carry all the junk down to the beach on one side of us and something large on the other side just to keep SOME distance at least. Even if you don’t use it, bring something down, even extra towels you do not use, to mark off a space and put them down all around where you want to be. I don’t know how you stop people from sitting right on top of you but that is what I do to keep a little distance.

  2. soliteyah says:

    Just spent the past week at the beach (and want to be back! BOO!), and I agree with this post completely. I will say that music seems to be less of a problem now that everyone has iPods and such.

    I’d add that body surfers can be just as much of a problem as boogie boarders. My mom got run over the other day, to the point where the body surfer hurt her neck. :-( Of course, part of the problem was that the lifeguards had squeezed everyone into too small of a space between the flags — people were totally on top of each other, and collisions were frequent. That isn’t fun for anyone.

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