10 Ways to Avoid Being a Beach Bummer

By: Michelle Konstantinovsky  | 
crowded beach
One of the first rules of beach etiquette is to position yourself a comfy distance away from another group's personal bubble of space whenever possible. Rey Torres/Getty Images

Hey, you! Yes, you — you eager surf bunny ready to hit the sand this summer! You're being a beach bummer. So quit it.

No one likes to think of themselves as an uncouth social offender, but with scores of vacationers setting up shop uncomfortably close to one another at the seaside, things are bound to turn ugly. According to a June 2022 ValuePenguin survey, 73 percent of Americans have summer travel plans, a huge increase from 53 percent in 2021. And nearly 80 percent of those traveling are taking road trips, and surely many of those will be to the beach.


Whether it's blaring speakers, shameless littering or a smoking section of sunbathers seated directly to your side, the beach can be a minefield of bad manners. Here are the top 10 behaviors beachgoers have got to stop doing before the season becomes a total wash.

1. Getting way too cozy for no good reason.

You would think with all that sprawling sand, people would just naturally abide my social norms and allow tiny slivers of space between parties. And yet that is so rarely the case. Most people go to the beach to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Respect that need to decompress and position yourself a comfy distance away from another group's personal bubble of space.


2. Littering the landscape.

littering the landscape
Littering the landscape with plastic bottles, trash, and decaying seaweed Heather Paul / Getty Images

It's never OK to trash public property, but people seem especially compelled to act like litterbugs at the beach. Yes, locating a garbage can on the sand is typically unlikely, but it's super simple to pack an extra plastic bag and stuff it with all the food wrappers, trashy magazines and other leftover junk you've got. Whatever you do, don't leave it behind and don't even think about tossing it in the ocean.


3. Blasting your playlist at full volume.

It's a scientific fact (or something) that everyone can enjoy a single round of "Despacito" at moderate volume. But even if you think you're the Calvin Harris of beach jams, chances are no one wants to hear your tunes while they're trying to tune out. So keep your speaker volume low or make use of those overpriced headphones you know you have on hand.


4. Fishing where people are swimming.

A man and his child is fishing on the beach lisegagne / Getty Images

This is an actual thing our editors endured while out in the wild. There are actual piers built for the sole purpose of catching fish suitable for dating app profile pictures (seriously, this is a phenomenon that must end). Go to there. Beachgoers don't want to end up tangled in your fishing lines — and they most definitely don't want to be confused for your bait.


5. PDA-ing all over the place.

Love is a beautiful thing ... until it's being enacted by two strangers in front of your face. We all get it — the beach can be super romantic. But refrain from anything more than PG action in public, please.


6. Lighting up.

This isn't an anti-smoking article (you can find one here and also here, though!) but blowing smoke at the beach can be really inconsiderate to those around you. The ocean breeze is almost certain to waft secondhand smoke into the faces of others and cigarette butts are ultra-toxic to the environment. If you have to light up, at least head to the parking lot or another area away from the crowds where you can dispose of that cig butt properly.

man smoking cigar on beach
If you have to light up, don't do it on the beach. Nobody wants to breathe your secondhand smoke in place of the ocean breeze.
Cal Crary/Getty Images


7. Shaking it off, and not in the T-Swift way.

We've probably all been guilty of this one at some point, but thoughtlessly shaking the sand from your towel is a bad look and a really quick way to make enemies. Just take a sec and shake off downwind, so you're not assaulting your beachmates with scratchy grains.


8. Getting sporty in a bad spot.

Please don't be that guy or girl who makes families nervously fear for their young. If you're going to toss a ball, throw a frisbee or otherwise get your athleticism on, move to a less populated area so you don't inadvertently bonk a stranger in the head or stress them out with your questionable catching skills.


9. Letting it all hang out.

Body positivity is so important during a season that basically shames everyone into believing they need to have some sort of standard-issue "bikini" body in order to enjoy the beach. Every single person on the planet has a beach-ready body, so the issue isn't about aesthetics, but about respect for customs. While some cultures, countries and communities are totally down for lots of skin, others call for more modest beach attire. Just do a little research before you take your top off or strut around in your leopard Speedo, OK?


10. Letting the dogs out.

letting the dogs out
Small pet dog relaxing on the beach lechatnoir / Getty Images

Cute dogs are the lifeblood of our society — this is not up for debate. But not everyone is a puppy person, so even if your canine is the best-behaved beast on the planet, just keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't get too familiar with strangers. (And if he does his No. 2 on the beach, please see our No. 2, above.)