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How to Enjoy Yourself at a Crowded Beach

Updated on June 8, 2014

Benefits to Going to the Beach Solo

Being a part of a family of four, I know what it takes to pack up and head off to the beach. Living in Panama City, Florida, I am also familiar with the oh-so-crowded beaches. Going solo is sometimes the only way to enjoy yourself.

  • There's less to pack. Let's face it, you don't need a lot for just one person. Without taking the kids, there's no need for pails and shovels. If you must take toys, try a sieve and a rake. You'll have fun!
  • Electronics are safe by your side. Without having to worry about a family member plunge into your lap or laying area, your iPod and Kindle will be safer.
  • Moving to another part of the beach is done on a whim. No discussions, no voting, no hassle. Pack up, move on, settle in again. Bing, bang, boom, done!
  • Stay only for as long as you like. Same as above. You're the boss.

Have Essentials Handy

Start thinking about what you need for a comfortable day at the beach and the list starts to get long. The good news is, most everything is small and easily packed into a bag. Here are my picks for a solo day at the beach:

  • Spray sunblock. It's the only way to go for a solitary venture. It doesn't leave any openings for a random tourist to ask if I need help in applying lotion. Practice makes perfect, but it won't take long to master the art.
  • Sunglasses and hat. I take them, but only use one at a time. For strong breeze days, the hat goes back in the bag. I've tried using a visor, but it makes me feel funny. Maybe I'll get used to it after a couple more summers in Bay county.
  • Headphones and an mp3 player. Here's a little secret: People are less likely to try to start up a random conversation if you're listening to music. I don't even always have music playing, but the headphones are attached to my ears. If you want to appear more welcoming to strangers, ditch the headphones.
  • Paperback book or tablet/eReader. It is cliché for a many people actually take books to read at the beach. While paperback is my first choice, I am learning how to feel comfortable with the Nook Color. I don't recommend taking the electronic version if you'll be leaving your spot for the water. I don't take magazines, either. They're bulky and don't last long enough. It may be just me, but I don't read every article at once.
  • Towel, beach blanket or chair. Not many people are a fan of laying directly on the sand. Chairs are best when the sand is blowing a little bit, less of it will hit your face. A beach blanket is my first pick, but it gets a little bulky when packing. A beach towel works out great most of the time.
  • Lunch cooler with ice packs and water. Tourist or local, water is the very best thing to take with you to the beach. Alcohol just adds to dehydration, impairs judgement and really, really shouldn't be a part of a solo trip to the beach. Juice isn't a bad idea, but it might lead to having to go to the bathroom. Immodium in the morning puts a nix on that, but it certainly isn't a good idea for regular use.

Pack just right and everything will fit into a cloth bag. It doesn't get too heavy and travels easy. The bulkiest items are the chair and cooler.

Panama City Beach, Destination for Tens of Thousands of Tourists Every Year

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Things To Do During The Day

There are so many ways to spend your day at the beach. It doesn't have to be laying in the sun with nothing to do.

  • Shell collecting. If you're at a beach with shells, you can walk the beach looking for pretty or unique pieces to take home. I try to limit myself to just 4 or 5 shells when I'm by myself. Without the limit, they add up pretty quickly and are 'one more thing' to keep carrying.
  • Yoga. Even on busy beach days you can have your own personal space. It may only be as large as your towel or blanket, but most everyone will respect that. Yoga on the beach is not an activity if you're self-conscious.
  • Writing. I've taken notebooks before, but have also been learning to type faster on my Nook. Inspiration strikes at the oddest times, and a crowded beach seems to be a popular time for it to hit me.
  • Audio or text books. Reading books or listening to a new one can be a lot of fun at the beach. To know the world is going on around you while having no responsibilities is pretty refreshing.
  • Podcasts. I save my entertaining podcasts for the beach. I'm not trying to learn a new skill or research a new company - I just want to be entertained while watching everyone around me.
  • Sketching. Disclosure: I am not an artist. I don't sketch while at the beach. I have seen others doing it and they seem to be enjoying themselves.
  • People watch. I do this a lot! Headphones in, sunglasses on, laying on my stomach. I can see so many people for what seems like miles. There are parents with tots, teenagers playing hooky from school or work, couples walking hand in hand. I enjoy watching them and seeing how it is they choose to enjoy the beach.
  • Take walks. This is best when you don't have anything bulky to carry with you, but walking along the beach is wonderful exercise. If you're listening to your headphones, don't lose track of time and how far you've traveled! It's no fun trying to remember 'the spot' you came in to the beach on crowded days.

Going Alone Isn't Lonely

When surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other people, you might start to feel left out or even...lonely. Well, it is all in your mindset. If you're at the beach to relax, to read, or to explore - Go ahead and do it! Everyone is there to enjoy themselves in their own way and they really aren't going to single you out and wonder, "Why are they here alone?"

Give yourself options before you head out, and then when you get there - go with the flow. Who knows, you may end up running into friends or family. The day will be what you make of it. The beach is my number one favorite place to be, so I hope you enjoy yourself.


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