You live in San Diego. That's an excellent decision. You're going to the beach. Wow, you're on fire! But wait… you could still screw this up. Avoid these 18 San Diego beach decisions at all costs.
1. Giving the seagulls the benefit of the doubt
Seagulls are the kleptomaniacs of the bird world. If they even think you have food, these aggressive flying menaces will tear through your belongings, leaving your stuff strewn all over the beach in the process. Before you go in the water, make sure your snacks are secured in a cooler, or better yet, a combination-locked safe. And don’t even think of going to battle with a determined seagull. He has friends. Think of the Hitchcock movie.
Looks like you can forget about that parking spot. There's always tomorrow!
3. Not looking both ways before crossing the boardwalk
Say you do find that ever-elusive parking spot, you’ll still probably have to carry your stuff a couple of miles to get to the beach. Then, you finally see it. The ocean. With your eyes fixed on the horizon and your arms full of crap, the last thing standing between you and that beautiful water is the boardwalk. Then BAM; you’re taken out by a rollerblader who thinks he's Apolo Ohno. Traffic gets crazy on the boardwalk. For the safety of everyone involved, cross carefully.
4. Swimming after the rain
Yes, we’re in a drought, but if you’ve lived in San Diego long enough to see it rain, then you should know that urban runoff is very real and very dangerous. Do yourself a favor and stay out of the water for at least 72 hours after it rains. The fact that we are in a drought increases the buildup of pollutants on the hard surfaces of our city that then get washed untreated into the ocean the next time it rains. You don’t want to be swimming in that.
5. Going into public restrooms barefoot
Sure, you’re at the beach so you’re probably already barefoot, but if you must venture into the public restrooms, at least take two seconds to put on your flip-flops first. Otherwise be prepared to play America's least-favorite game show (Is That Water Or Urine?!) and develop a truly frightening fungal situation.
6. Expecting some personal space
You could build a fortress around your towel reminiscent of the wall Trump wants to build along the border, but even that won’t prevent you from having to spend the day getting cozy with a bunch of oiled-up half-naked strangers.
7. Posting up near the volleyball nets
Sure, the beach is crowded, but trying to catch some rays anywhere near the volleyball nets is bound to result in a ball to the head or a face full of sand.
8. Swimming where you should be surfing
Unless you want a surfboard to the dome, pay attention to the signs and flags on the beach. If you’re not sure where you should be swimming, then ask a lifeguard. They aren’t there just to look pretty.
9. Shaking your towel upwind of everyone
There are ways to rid your towel of sand before packing it away that don’t involve covering the person next to you in a shower of grit.
While there are some exceptions, chances are you are not a bodybuilder or competitive swimmer and this is definitely not Europe. Odds are, you made a bad call.
11. White bathing suits
Be sure to test it out in the shower at home before you sport that white bathing suit at the beach or you might be showing off more of your assets than you intended.
12. Messing with the seals and sea lions in La Jolla
No, these are not domesticated seals strategically put there for tourists to take pictures with. These are wild animals and they can bite you, especially during pupping season. Just ask the 5-year-old boy who was bitten in the face this spring. On another note, next time you think of swimming at La Jolla Cove, take a look around at the amount of seals and sea lions crowding the area. You do realize you’re pretty much swimming in their toilet, right?
13. Sex on the beach
It might sound romantic in theory, but in practice it ends with sand in weird places and possible legal trouble. Stick to the drink.
14. Smoking on a crowded beach
Just like alcohol, smoking is not allowed on San Diego beaches to begin with, but lighting up in the middle of the crowd of sunbathers is just rude regardless of the legality. You might be outside, but have some damn courtesy. Also, it's 2015, why are you still smoking?
15. Assuming your suit is securely attached
Make sure you double-check those bikini strings before entering the water. One moderately strong wave and you’re in for a wardrobe malfunction that’ll make you wish you were at Black’s Beach where that sort of thing is encouraged.
16. Bringing your dog to the beach
As much as our four-legged friends love the ocean, there is a time and a place for dogs on San Diego beaches. That time is after 6pm unless the place is Dog Beach or Fiesta Island.
17. Being a creeper
San Diego is full of good-looking people, so there is plenty of eye candy to be had on our beaches -- but nobody likes unwanted ogling. Don’t be that guy (or girl). Yes ladies, I’m talking to you too. If you’re going to stare, at least have the guts to go introduce yourself.
18. Taking a booze snooze... or any kind of snooze
Drinking may not be allowed on the beaches in San Diego, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tie one on at the oceanfront pub across the way before you go. Whether you’re drinking or not, don’t pass out on the sand. This never ends well. For anyone.
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Sara Norris is an adventure-loving travel-obsessed freelance writer and photographer currently based in San Diego, CA. Follow along with her latest adventures on Instagram @saraknorris.