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Beach Etiquette

Photo image by Hitchster via Flickr Creative Commons

With summer here, my mind has turned to planning our annual family beach trip.  Images of building sandcastles, splashing in the surf and long walks on the beach fill my daydreams as I count down the days till vacation.  As a mom of a nature-embracing little boy, I aim to pass along ways to play and explore the beach that make sure this fragile ecosystem is protected from his well-meaning, oh-so-curious hands.


It’s fun (and educational) to scoop crabs and other sea creatures into a bucket to observe.  Just keep in mind that these guys need water to breathe.  Even with water in your bucket, a crab will only last 20 minutes before it begins to suffocate.  Look – then let them go.


Wondrous discoveries can be made by looking under rocks in tide pools.  Just be sure to lift rocks straight up (so you don’t accidentally crush critters hiding underneath) and replace the rocks gently, leaving them as you found them.  Many beach creatures find cool, moist homes under rocks, logs and seaweed.  If you move or take their home. they might not survive.  Check out this video for a rock lifting demonstration.


Starfish, mussels and other clingy creatures survive waves and predators by hanging tightly to rocks and wharf pilings.  If picked off a rock or perch, they rarely survive.


Use dune walk-overs and designated beach access points to cross dunes.  This fights erosion by protecting the plants that hold the dunes in place.  Dunes are also a popular spot for sea turtle nests and should not be disturbed.

What am I missing?  Share other ways we can protect and preserve beaches by leaving a comment below.

5 Comments to “Beach Etiquette”

  • Monica Erskine

    Stumbled across another beach etiquette tip:

    LET NESTING BIRDS BE. Many species of birds, like the piping plover, nest in the sand near the beach. Nests can get accidentally trampled, destroyed, or abandoned if beachgoers get too near.

    Read more at American Bird Conservancy: http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/110630a.html

  • Great article! Don’t forget many beaches are nesting areas for sea turtles.

    Here’s a guide to ways to visit nesting beaches without hurting turtles and hatchlings:

  • Don’t litter! I hate when I see people littering on the beach.. pouring sand on their trash to make them feel better about it not blowing around. It is the same thing though and it will eventually get out of the sand and could be really harmful. That’s about it, I think your points are great as well, I hate to see kids playing with ocean creatures.

    Alyssa- CoolProducts.com

    • Monica Erskine

      I just returned from our family beach vacation. My 4-year old took up “litter patrol” duties on our nightly beach walks, filling up a bag with trash each night. While it was sad to see how much litter , it made me feel good that we were at least taking a stand and doing something to right the wrong. Thanks for reading and commenting, Alyssa.

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