Many dream of spending their hard-earned vacations on white-sand beaches with a freshly made cocktail in hand under the soothing soundtrack of gentle waves slowly sweeping away the stress of their 9 to 5 lives. I myself on the other hand would call it a complete and utter waste of time.
Personally, I’ve never understood the appeal of spending your time laying lifeless on gritty, orifice-invading sands whilst doing absolutely nothing apart from baking to a delicate hue of a newly boiled lobster. So before you book that one-way ticket to the shores of Ibiza or Bali, let me tell you why you should avoid spending that much time on the beach!
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What’s So Bad About Beaches?
Objectively speaking, beaches can be fascinating places! The world is full of utterly stunning coastlines lined against exotic and vibrant oceans. There’s a reason why the image of a tropical paradise typically includes white, sandy beaches and nearby palm trees gently waving in the breeze…and a freshly made cocktail or two of course.
That being said, for those of us fortunate enough to travel, I can’t see how anyone would actively want to travel halfway across the world and spend a ridiculous amount of money just to lay motionless on a beach with your eyes shut. Here’s the problem…
It Wastes Your Precious Time
Picture the scene; you spend your yearly savings on a plane ticket headed to a faraway tropical nation that you may never visit again. You arrive at an area with a rich, vibrant culture, a vast spectrum of wildlife scattered amongst ever-changing landscapes and a history which spans thousands of years. And despite all that, you rather spend your day laying beneath a parasol umbrella with a sand-filled ass crack and skin redder than a baboon’s derriere? Seriously?
It’s nothing but a complete and utter waste of time to the highest order! There’s an entire world for you to explore and you prefer to spend the precious moments of your vacation literally doing nothing! Explain to me how it’s any different to wasting your days laying on the sofa and watching TV. Because you have a tan at the end of it? Big deal.
Of course, we’re all human, we all enjoy kicking back and forgetting about the world every once in a while. But why would I pay hundreds or even thousands to do absolutely nothing when I could do that at home?
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Answer me one simple question; how is one beach different to any other? Apart from having a meagre variety of sands and an even smaller spectrum of ocean colours, what’s the difference?
“There’s different landscapes around the beaches!” True, but does that matter to a sunbather who has their eyes closed most of the time? As long as there’s sand and sun, they’re happy.
“There’s different things to see in the ocean!” The same rule applies. Why does that matter to a wanna-be influencer who just wants an even tan and a snapshot of her knees before the water for those Instagram likes? My point is that apart from a few minuscule details, all beaches are the same. You could be on a beach in Brazil, Australia or Southern Italy, it makes no difference.
While the rest of the country is utterly unique and culturally diverse, you chose to spend your time somewhere completely generic and indistinct. Why would you spend so much time there when there’s so much more you haven’t experienced yet?
What’s To Enjoy?
There’s a percentage of people out there that get pure joy from laying out in the boiling hot sun all day as they develop melanomas and burn their skin to a leathery crisp. On the other hand, my pasty, white, Welsh frame and hatred of any temperature above a solid 16°C would argue otherwise. If anything, it’s just an agonising endurance challenge that I’ll be feeling for the next few days.
Of course, it’s just a matter of personal taste! Some enjoy the simple relaxation, but does that have to be done while being grilled like a piece of bacon? Others prefer getting a tan that they can show them off to their co-workers at McDonald’s. If that’s all you want, isn’t there a tanning salon you could visit nearby?
And don’t get me started on each and every god damn fucking grain of sand that creeps its way into every unwelcome orifice of your newly scolded body and somehow becomes an integral part of your grainy ham sandwich. Neither does the misery end there, as you’re forced to remember the agony for weeks after as you repeatedly come across the gritty reminder of your terrible fucking day.
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As a child who was lucky enough to be taken to the British hotspots of sunny Spain with my family, there was nothing worse than having to sit on the beach for hours on end as my mother turned into an unrecognisable shade and texture of leather as my undiagnosed ADHD drove me over the edge.
That feeling followed me into my adulthood as to this day, no matter the destination, whether Mexico, Thailand or the sunny Mediterranean, spending the day on the beach never finds a place in my itinerary.
In the end, it just boils down to the type of traveller that you are. While some people are the get up and go types that fill every waking hour with all manner of activities, others prefer a slower pace and enjoy a brief escape from the reality of their boring lives for just a little while.
Neither is there anything wrong with that, there isn’t a “right” way to travel, you have the freedom to travel the way that suits you! I’m sure plenty of people couldn’t think of anything worse than spending their day wandering through museums or trekking through snake-infested rainforests. One thing that can’t be denied is that the type of traveller you are says a lot about your personality!
Beaches Aren’t All That Bad
It doesn’t take a genius to work out why spending time on the beach appeals to so many people. Most don’t get the chance to walk along a beach during sunset, and a considerable proportion of the world havn’t even seen a beach before, let alone had the opportunity to sunbathe in it! If you’re a goat herder in the hills of Kazakhstan or a lumberjack in the heart of Canada’s frozen tundra, then a quiet week on the sunny beaches of Southern Europe sounds pretty inviting.
And let’s face it, spending a day on white sandy beaches lined against turquoise oceans and filled with scantly dressed individuals is not the worst place to be. It certainly beats another agonising day in the office or a rainy day indoors! Check your privilege people!
It’s the Way You Spend Your Time
It’s not my place to tell anyone how to spend their time. As a grown-ass individual, you have the right to spend your time any way you want, and I would be lying if I said I haven’t spent a considerable amount of time on the beach myself!
My problem can be defined by the outdated millennial proverb, you only live once. There’s a whole fascinating country lying just a few feet behind that coastline you’re wasting your time on. There are so many incredible sites to explore and amazing adventures to be a part of, and this may be your only chance. Why would you sacrifice that opportunity?
If you have your heart set on spending the day on the beach, then you could at least make the most of your time there too! You could explore the fascinating coastline, the quaint stores along the promenades, or better yet, get into the water and discover all the incredible sea life that’s hiding a few feet away from you. Anything except for laying there like a lifeless, crispy corpse! Do something with your life!
Which are you, a tourist or a traveller? What’s the difference between the two? And why does one have animosity towards the other?
Of all the beach-loving tourists throughout the world, one group is notoriously worse than any other, British holidaymakers. Believe me, I speak from tragic experiences! And where do working-class British families go on vacation? Spain, and only Spain.
The land of flamenco and bull-fighting is as close to a tropical paradise as blue-collar British families are willing and able to afford, and better yet, it’s just an hour’s flight away! However, the most important factor for a xenophobic Brit is being able to bring the creature comforts of home with them. They’re the “I’ll only eat what I trust” and “why don’t these people speak English?” kind of crowd.
The defining example of this cultural Brit-washing can be found on the Eastern shores of Spain in the seaside resort of Benidorm, the pinnacle of British cultural embarrassment. The streets of this bastardised Spanish town are filled with British holidaymakers who frequent the multitude of British pubs, restaurants and clubs, as they have no interest in delving into any aspect of the local culture, and instead, actively try to avoid it. Why eat paella and tapas when you could eat fish and chips in a bar called The Red Lion?
This has also played a major role in my hatred of beach holidays. The constant eye-rolling from friends plant for booze-cruises in Ibiza or visiting the overcrowded beaches of Zante is endless. They simply want a British holiday with a bit more sun.
Though of course, most beach-lovers around the world don’t follow this binary simplicity, the basic principle remains the same. Beach lovers aren’t as interested in any other aspect of the country or the culture they’re in. For them, the priority has always been the white sandy beaches, and nothing else, and that is a real tragedy.
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A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.