In writing this blog my goal isn’t to lecture, as I know I am not the world’s foremost expert on etiquette and decorum- but simply to point out a few basic do’s and don’ts on the beach. I, myself, fall off the wagon, too! However I do try to think of people around me at all times. It’s simply a case of wanting to be treated well and thoughtfully. I think most of you will find that it’s just a normal way to act while on the beach but, there are other things you may have not thought about. Some are to protect you and your family! Here goes….
DO: Enjoy! Enjoy the sun, the sand, the people, your surroundings- as we all are “Lucky” to have this amazing experience that is Anna Maria Island. I am grateful every day to live here, no matter the weather. To me a storm is just as amazing as the sun.
Don’t: Please don’t shake off your towels, no matter the kind, near people. Step away, check the direction of the wind, and then shake your towels off. Nobody wants to be covered in your sand! It’s particularly tough on the eyes, and the grit in your teeth isn’t pleasant either (Or in your sunscreen).
DO: Take everything that you came with! If you pack a garbage bag in your beach tote it makes tackling the trash at the end of the day so easy. While most public beaches have trash receptacles, some of the beaches do not. If it’s a busy day on the beach and the receptacles are full take it home with you, as it will just blow all over. Always try to be a good steward of the outdoors. Make a game of it with your kids to see who can find the most trash. (Bring hand-sanitizer and a bucket) The Island Coffee Haus in Holmes Beach will actually give you a free cup of coffee or tea if you bring in your found trash. Also, you will have less trash if you use reusable drinking bottles. See: www.islandcoffeehaus.com
Do: Bring a waterproof sound system. Music is always a fun thing to have on the beach- however please DON’T play your music so loud that it bothers other people. Here’s a thought too- Perhaps pick a genre of music that appeals to a whole group and others will be less likely to be upset if you crank it up a bit. Who knows, you might end up with new friends. Loud head-banging music with a lot of profanity in it would probably be better listened to on low. I know, I know…who am I to tell you what to listen to…
Do: If you smoke bring a sealable can for cigarette butts. Despite what some may think it’s not the desired choice of birds for nesting material. A quick note: fill the can half-way with sand so when you put your hot cigarette in the can & shake it- it will go out on its own.
Do: Plan your day at the beach with the thought of everyone having fun, but DON’T let your idea of fun interfere with someone else’s idea of fun. For example, if you and your friends are having a rousing game of volleyball, football, or soccer be sure that it’s far enough away from other people. Nobody wants their beach day ruined by getting hit with the ball or having their solitude infringed upon by your competition. With that being said, accidents do happen so be gracious and apologetic when they do!
Do: Bring floats and fun things to float around on. Nothing is dreamier and more relaxing than floating on the water and looking at the sky. The float DON’T- It tells you right on the packages that these are not meant as a life saving device, so if you are not a good swimmer, or not a swimmer at all stay where you can touch the bottom. Just a heads up; If you are lost in relaxation & see the color of the water get darker, or change from that beautiful teal color, that means the water is getting deeper
Don’t: Anyone who knows me well who’s reading this will probably find this funny or even hypocritical as a profane word has escaped my lips on more than one occasion, but here goes…Don’t use vulgar language or profanity loudly on the beach. I do have a healthy respect for others and listening to someone yelling profanity on the beach is something I find offensive. I’m not saying that you can’t use profanity if you choose but, keep it low.
Don’t: The beach is supposed to be fun for one and all…so if kids running around and playing is annoying to you, you can do one of two things: One, pick a beach that is not normally populated by families; Two, simply go find another spot. On the flip side if you have kids don’t pick a spot on the beach that seems to be populated with adults or sun- worshipers.
Don’t: Sometimes things that you see happen at the beach are just plain funny; however- it is never acceptable to make fun of anyone because of how they look or what they are wearing. Treat others how you would like to be treated!
Don’t: Everyone is going to want to snack while at the beach but, feeding the birds and other wildlife is not a good idea for a couple of reasons. The first is the grains and preservatives in our food is not healthy for the birds. They can become sickened and when they get sick, they pass it from one to another. The other reason is that they tend to become a huge nuisance when they think they’re getting a free meal. You may start out with one, but with one “squawk” you will have an entire flock chasing you around and they will get aggressive. Refrain from feeding the birds…please!
Don’t: Sea-shelling is a favorite sport of everyone who comes to Anna Maria Island- or any beach for that matter- but please keep in mind that some of the shells have living creatures in them. Please make sure that the shells are empty before taking them from the beach or ocean. Also, should you be lucky enough to find a sand-dollar, be aware that if it’s brown, it is still alive. They only turn white when they are dead. Along that same thought, if you happen to come across a sea animal along the shore please don’t touch it. You can look at it closely but poking it and trying to pick it up is just the wrong thing to do. I brought this up as I was watching a whole family trying to do this with a beautiful starfish. You don’t have to be nasty just ask them to stop and educate them why! Here’s an idea! Purchase a waterproof guidebook of seashells and ocean life, it makes it interesting for young and old alike to learn while you’re on your hunt for that perfect shell. See: Seashells More Than a Home by Melissa Stewart Florida’s Seashells, A Beachcomber’s Guide by Blair Witherington; Seashells, Crabs and Sea Stars: Take Along Guide by, Christine Kump Tibbits and Linda Garrow
Do: Shuffle your feet in the sand as you walk into the water…if you have never been speared by a Stingray- be warned it will be something that you will never forget. Just know that the stingray did not attack you on purpose. They are actually docile however when we step on them or near them it can scare them and their only form of protection is their tale. A good day trip to see the extraordinary animals is Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota. See: www.Mote.org They have all kinds of ocean animals to see and some really cool events throughout the year.
Do: After spending the day digging and building sandcastles you must fill in your holes and knock down your castles. This probably sounds like a very heartless thing to do especially if you have spent the entire afternoon building but, it’s important for two reasons: One, people do walk the beach and at night they might trip and fall. Two, holes and obstacles in the beach can affect the comings and goings of the sea turtles.
Don’t: The use of white light on the beach is prohibited at night. If you are out at night you must have your flashlight covered with something that makes the light amber. White light it disorientating to the turtles, especially when the babies come, as they look for the moon to guide them to the ocean.
Don’t: Please do not disturb sea turtles or Terns nests, even if they look like they have been vacated. You may be fined for doing this if caught! There’s a dedicated group of volunteers that walk the beach daily during the nesting season and they would be thrilled to answer any questions you may have regarding the turtles, Terns, and the other animals on the beach. See: www.AnnaMariaTurtleWatch.org
Don’t: Some people really enjoy surf fishing. Shoot I like to fish too but, fishing where others are swimming can bring on a whole host of things that can go wrong very quickly. Such as accidentally hooking something or someone. It also seems to me that if you are fishing near people in the water that you will drive bigger predators toward the shore. On the flipside if you see a bunch of people fishing, don’t swim nearby! Keep in mind that in Florida, just as it is in most states, it is illegal to fish without a license. If you’re heading for a vacation plan ahead and purchase online at www.govforms.com or locally at the ACE Hardware Store & Walmart on Cortez Road, Bradenton.
Don’t: As we all know Florida can have some spectacular storms that seem to appear from out of nowhere. It is a definite beach don’t to be out when a storm is happening. I’ll state the obvious here, getting struck by lightning isn’t good for you…if you survive the strike you are going to have a really bad headache. Not to mention some very nasty burns.
Don’t: Some might assume that because we are on the Gulf that the water doesn’t get all that rough or dangerous, so here’s another big DON’T…If there’s a riptide warning pay attention! It doesn’t matter if you are an Olympic swimmer, if you get caught in one and don’t know how to get out of it, you will put yourself in peril. I personally have never been caught in one however according to the Lifeguards don’t try to fight it or you will be dragged out. Swim parallel to the shore until you swim out of it. My last swimming warning is to watch all your family members, they may know how to swim but swimming in the ocean isn’t like the pool or lake, there is a power there that can be very deceiving even on a calm day.
So, I know it seems like there are a lot more DON’TS than DO’S, and even the DO’S seem like DON’TS but- the best beach memories come when everyone leaves at the end of the day sun-kissed, relaxed, and happy, with only fun memories of a great day on the beach.