While the British summer looks just as shy as ever, those of us searching for a bit of sand and sun to keep us entertained don't have to go far for a bit of beach fun. Europe is just around the corner and is more than happy to accommodate its yearly British invasion. Whether your personal preference is Portugal
, Greece, Italy or Cyprus, the choices are endless. To help you make the most of your holidays, here are a few tips for a safe and fun beach holiday.
Always respect the flags
- While warning flags sometimes differ between countries, the three basic ones usually remain the same. Green flag means low hazard and that it's safe to swim; yellow flag means medium hazard and you should remain near the shore; red flag means high hazard, and you shouldn't swim at all when there's a red flag flying. Warning flags should be taken extremely seriously. In some countries, lifeguards will issue warnings to anyone swimming under a red flag.
Stay clear of the cliffs
- Sometimes beaches are surrounded by cliffs (very common, for instance, in Portuguese beaches), which provide the perfect shade under which to lay your towel. Tempting as that is, you'd be better advised to take a sunshade with you and stay away from the cliffs, since rocks may suddenly come lose.
Pack some snacks
- Many beaches will have a restaurant or cafe where you can buy food or drinks if you feel like it, but like any other tourist area, prices tend to be a bit steeper there than elsewhere. Taking a cooler filled with cold drinks and some snacks is not only cheaper, but often healthier as well. This way you can ensure you'll stay hydrated and well fed throughout the day.
Respect the sun
- While the perspective of finally getting a decent tan is no doubt alluring, it's important to remember that the sun in southern Europe can be extremely strong. Always remember to use plenty of sunscreen to avoid the 'lobster' look. You should also avoid the hours of worst heat, particularly if you're travelling with children. The best hours to go to the beach are 8am to 11am, and 4pm to 7pm.
Choose your parking carefully
- Oftentimes, the 'car parks' near beaches are filled with trees, particularly pine trees, with drivers vying for the best spots under the canopies' shade. While leaving the car out of the sun certainly has its allure, you should be aware that pine trees drop a sort of resin that can damage a car's paintwork.