Just because the summer is technically over it doesn’t mean you won’t get a chance to visit the seaside again this year. It doesn’t vanish overnight when the sun goes in so have some ideas up your sleeve for fun things to do at the beach and you can head there all year round.
When the sun does join you, make sure you lather on the sunscreen so you can enjoy the day safely. Unsurprisingly, a large mass of water reflects the sun rather impressively so it won’t take long to have sore ears or rosy cheeks. We’ve all had those days when we’ve been wrapped up in a fleece and still burnt our nose so deal with this, whatever the time of year.
Speaking of clothing, be prepared for all seasons in one day, especially if you’re at a British beach, as shorts and a T-shirt might feel great when you arrive but you might be shivering by lunchtime.
For many of us, childhood holidays involved a lot of time at the seaside. We didn’t have computer games and we didn’t feel we were missing out, but why is it we now feel the need to take half the toy cupboard for the kids and the mobile office for us? Let’s see if we can recapture that innocence of simple ‘good to be outdoors’ fun.
Picnic: Remember to pack a picnic as there’s something very comforting about opening a cool box on the beach and sharing sarnies. Bring the flask for a decent cuppa, and when the plastic tubs are empty there are so many uses for them at the beach.
Build a sandcastle: This isn’t just for the kids as didn’t you get your father to join in when you were younger? And didn’t he then take over with architectural advice and become more like a Site Foreman? You don’t need a bucket and spade – a plastic tub from lunch and your hands for digging are just fine. Make your ‘castle’ as elaborate as you choose. Add a ‘garden’ with flowers, seaweed, shells and pebbles. You could also include a sand golf course in your ‘castle grounds’ – yep, a few holes around the beach – and flick a pebble around the course. And, of course, do dig a dam around your masterpiece to fill with water. When the tide is coming in, dig a trench from the sea to your castle and watch it wash away.
Rockpooling: As the tide goes out, look for pools of water and scoop the contents out with your lunch box to see what’s living in there. This Rockpooling Identification Chart can be downloaded from free (after registering) and would be a handy guide to what you find. You could get the chart laminated or you could put it in one of the clear plastic bags you used for the picnic.
Crabbing: You can use a piece of fishing line with a hook or a length of string, which is what you’re more likely to have at home. Tie a pebble to the end and add bait from the picnic – something meaty works best. Then dangle your ‘line’ in a rock pool so it reaches the bottom and wait. When a crab bites, pull it up and have a look. It’s traditional to unceremoniously dump it in a bucket (or plastic container from the picnic) but you can just look and let it go back immediately.
Taking photos: The beach is a great place to practice photography but be practical about water and sand near your camera, plus consider other’s privacy. Reflections, rock patterns, seaweed and ripples in the sand are all great subjects.
Read a magazine: Sure the Kindle is great to read even in bright light but there’s still something quite indulgent about having a glossy mag that you could throw away at the end of the day.
Write poetry: A simple pen and paper and the landscape for your inspiration. Let the creativity flow. You don’t need to keep it; it’s just the time to write that’s important. Use the time to daydream rather than worry and plan. Imagine if you lived on a boat or in a lighthouse. Imagine you’re a fish. Really, just imagine.
Release balloons: Spend some time composing a note to tie onto a balloon and then let it go. You could add your phone number or email address and ask the finder to contact you, or you could just add a message to make someone smile. When done with friends you can have a ‘race’ to see whose balloon goes out of sight last.
So next time you go to the beach you could try getting more than a suntan (or sunburn) and maybe recapture some of the joy that this natural playground has to offer.
Laura Porter has written this article exclusively for ISIC-IT, the mother ship of SEAS-IT. She is the author of About.com London Travel site and is a regular contributor to the VisitBritain Super Blog. Follow her on Twitter at @AboutLondon.