All events require one to be well-dressed, presentable and fully prepared in terms of appearance and etiquette, not only formal situations such as daily (work)life, dinners, and galas, but also spending a day at the beach or pool.
In this particular feature we would like to dissect this joyous occasion and share with readers our views on this experience, taking into account the particularities of beach culture.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Whether in your home country or during a foreign sojourn, you may find useful the following strategies to enjoy days spent at the beach or pool.
1. Always be prepared for what you are going to do, whether you’re going for a quiet stroll by the lake to take a dip or heading to the beach clubs of Ipanema.
– Don’t wear a bathing suit from home if it’s an obvious bathing suit. Planning on hopping around town? Get a swimwear that doubles as fashionable shorts. Fellow males, don’t sport a Speedo-style bathing suit—these are for Olympic swimmers only. Nowadays there are plenty of brands offering shorts-style sunshine/bathing attire with a modern cut. For the non-speedo options, avoid board shorts that are too loose or too long.
– Wear slippers, bring shoes: On the way to and from the beach, do wear flip-flops or light loafers (unless your accommodation is oceanfront of course). In general we recommend not to wear shoes, but to put these in your bag for afterwards.
– Avoid schlepping excessive food or drinks to the beach. It limits your freedom significantly. Pack light and bring some cash for fresh seafood, coconuts and happy hour drinks. Always bring some water.
2. At the beach or pool
– Sunburn: try to avoid sunburn. You risk possible blisters or worse diseases from exposure. Also, the red lobster look is definitely out of style and will brand you as a careless/ignorant tourist rather than an appreciated visitor. Choose a sunscreen that suits your needs. Multiply the SPF factor by the number of minutes it usually takes you to get a sunburn without protection (this differs for each person depending on skin type); this figure is the number of minutes of your protection. It is noteworthy to mention that the assumption made here by sunscreen manufacturers is based on using about twice the amount of product on the skin that you would probably apply yourself, latter up thoroughly! Cooling off in the shadow frequently also helps.
– Bring something to cover up, even if it’s just a short visit to the beach/pool. A polo or light shirt is perfect. Even where there are no written rules, it’s worth noting that bare chests and large expanses of sunburnt skin aren’t really acceptable away from beaches or sunbathing areas, whatever the temperature may be. Plus, you’ll never know what sort of fun opportunities you might run into and it would be a hassle to have to pass by your home base to fetch a cover up.
– Valuables: best left at home! If you do need some valuable items, try not to leave your possessions unguarded. Consider swimshorts with zippers so you can move freely without losing your cash or your phone. These days, beach/pool clubs offer lockers for storage of personal items. Concern for your possessions may prevent you from going swimming or taking a walk around. Use the lockers and free yourself from these concerns so that you can enjoy the sunshine!
– Rinse off before/when leaving the beach if you can. This not only leaves you feeling refreshed, but also negates a potential smell of burnt flesh!
3. Local culture
– Due to the weather in our part of the world, beach lifestyle is more of a seasonal thing (some years). Thus, you’ll often find yourself in other countries/cultures when enjoying the sunshine. Pay attention to what locals do at the beach, as they have probably figured out the best way to do it over time
– Find someone who knows their way around and ask them what to do after you’ve been to the beach. As people leave the sunshine in the evenings, undoubtedly there are still plenty of enjoyable experiences to be had. Be open and friendly, and your curiosity of showing a genuine interest in their opinion will be rewarded.
– In countries where English is not the main language, being able to speak one or two words in the local language will make people warm to you instantly. Ask someone to teach you the basics; “hello” “how are you” and “thank you.”
While I’m sitting in the sun writing this, I remember hearing a loud thud last night outside on the beach. A ripe coconut came soaring down from about 40feet/12meters. Ripe means the size and weight of a small bowling ball. Sitting underneath a coconut tree is a very romantic idea, but finding alternative shade under a different type of tree, in a pool cabana or at a beach club will be immensely safer, but then again this could be considered a calculated risk. Enjoy your sunshine this summer (and escape for some more this winter!)