Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beach Behavior

I love beaches but I don't visit as often as I would like. When I am on a beach, it becomes an interesting study in human behavior. We picked a week day to go to the Delaware State Park beaches on the Atlantic Ocean side so it wasn't as crowded as the more popular beaches to the north. We found a place to settle on the sand close to the water because watching the water is what I like to do. The beach was a wide white stretch of sand with a kind of platform that has a slope down to the water. We like to sit at the edge of the "stage" to watch the waves crash. I noticed that a lot of people turn their chairs at an angle to the beach rather than facing the beach. It looked like rows of seagulls facing the wind. The sun was everywhere so you didn't need to face the sun for maximum rays. I wondered if it is considered correct beach etiquette not to face the water so that one doesn't appear to be leering at those going into the water. 

People take their beach umbrellas and sit in sand chairs but not many lie on their towels for the sun to toast them. Some read, some appear to be sleeping, but since most people are wearing sunglasses and hats, it is hard to tell where their attention is directed. I don't mind people watching and I do my share of that. I don't consider it staring or leering. It is understandable that parents of little kids would be ever watchful of their little ones and anyone paying them undue attention. I'm a grandmother and little kids are cute and fun, but I am cautious about appearing to be too interested in them because I am also alert to unsavory characters. 


Thankfully, we found that people are considerate enough to leave plenty of space between where their groups settle and they give each other a little space to enjoy the beach in a circle of privacy. It seems to be an unwritten rule that people occupy about a 20 foot diameter circle between themselves and other beach groups. That seemed to be the minimum norm on a weekday. On that particular beach, people entered the beach at the facilities/concession stand/parking lot and kept walking until they found an uncrowded area to settle. Walking in the sand is such good exercise, you can feel the muscles jumping to attention.


I saw no one smoking and it was discouraged even outdoors. No one brought a dog to leave poop underfoot. I didn't notice if they were banned, but they probably were banned on that beach. It was a state park with a gate stand, admission fee, and park rules were posted. We didn't hear any loud music and saw people with their earbuds enjoying their music privately. I enjoy the sound of the waves and leave the music for other places. It is nice to visit an area where people are considerate of other beach visitors.


beach umbrella + surf board = sailboat
I didn't observe anyone feeding the seagulls even though they were scavenging as usual. People kept their food covered until it went into their mouths because a french fry waving in the air would have been snapped up by an opportunistic gull. It was interesting that there were no garbage cans that anyone would have to keep clean or that would attract scavengers. It was understood that you take away everything you bring. It was a clean beach and I saw no garbage--plastic bottles, cigarette butts, glass or anything other than seashells. I was very appreciative of the clean, white sand. We had scouted down the coast for an hour before we decided on a place to settle. It was a good choice and worth a return visit. The whole idea is to have a quiet, relaxing day and it was that. We spent five hours enjoying the sand, surf, and water.


I wish I could live in one of those houses.


  1. I love beaches, too, R.J. And I have no idea why people would put their chairs at right angles to the water. I don't sit out in the sun because at my age it's not healthy for my skin. (That's true for those younger folks, too, but they don't want to hear it quite yet.) :-)

  2. I am cautious of the sun also. We wear hats, sunglasses, pour on the sunscreen and sit under a beach umbrella. If we go in the water, we add another layer of sunscreen afterward and it seems to work.

  3. I like beaches for walking, but I have trouble just sitting for very long, especially if it is in the open sun and is very warm.
    On the Northwest coast the water stays very cold, so playing in the water is limited, but the surf is much more dramatic. People do lots of wave jumping, until they freeze, anyway.

  4. Planning is the key to a successful trip to the beach. We don't book housing so we are flexible. It is a two hour drive in good traffic mid-week. We watched weather forecasts to select a good day, not too hot, not too cold. There was a cool breeze because a front was moving in for an overnight storm after we left. The water temperature couldn't have been any better. It wasn't cold, but cooler than bath water. The Mid-Atlantic states have some good beaches and good days for weather at a beach. Even so, we sit under big beach umbrellas and we don't lie in the sun or stay in the sun very long.

    It is acceptable for day trips and a good alternative to getting on a plane to go to Florida or Caribbean beaches. Many people in our region own property close to the coast, but it wouldn't work for me. I would soon get bored with the driving, predictability and bored with the same old same old. The adventure of selected days off and on are acceptable for us. I was very impressed with the lack of rocks, frigid water or jelly fish. They are good beaches off Delaware.

  5. Years ago we would take the (then) two kids to southern California beaches and be hemmed in with people and blankets and towels. People had to walk on other people's belongings to get from their place down to the water and back again. I grew up there, and seeing more and more bodies at the beach discouraged me from going often as an adult with children of my own.

    Living in the middle of the country now, I am not near an ocean. The river was so dry this year in drought, nothing like last year. But some families were there in the river playing in the water as best they could. All are anxious for the river to be higher again next year.

    Your day at the beach sounds pleasant. It is nice to hear of places where people are responsible with their things, so much so that there is no need for trash cans. People who camp usually remove all signs that were there when they leave, leaving it clean for the next campers. I am glad you enjoyed your beach experience and shared some pics with us here.

  6. Gosh, I haven't been to the beach in ages, to sit I mean. We take visitors to look at it for a while before moving on to the next destination. I avoid sitting in the hot Hawaiian sun. It's brutal. You would make an excellent anthropologist.

  7. I don't sunbathe like I used to because I take medication that makes me sun sensitive. What pretty photos, RJ!

    Re your comment on my blog: Tess Gerritsen is a Chinese-American woman, married to my former doctor in Hawaii. They are both trained physicians, and moved to Maine during the 1990s. Small world!

  8. that looks like a beautiful beach. i haven't spent that much time on the ocean this year, which is too bad. i wish we lived closer! i grew up across the street from a small and not very popular beach so it felt like it was all mine!

  9. I love going to the beach and people watching is my favourite pastime, though I don't leer. ;) That beach looks like one I would really enjoy.

    Thanks for your comments on my post about my forthcoming holiday, I will be blogging about it when we get back. :)

  10. I don't go out into the sun as much as I used to....although I love the water...whether lake or's so calming. Gorgeous pictures. I hope you are having a nice beginning of fall?

  11. Sounds like you had an enjoyable day at the beach. Nice photos, too! Years ago, we used to go with some of hubby's family for a few days in Sea Isle City, NJ. Of course, it was nice to see the kids having fun, but I've never been much of an all-day beach person so I was usually the first one to pack up my bag and head back to the condo. I liked walking the boardwalk in the evening much better!