Why Do We Go To The Beach When It’s Hot?

When the sun shines brightly on hot summer days in Melbourne, many of us make a beeline for the beach.

A lot of us say we go to the beach to cool off on these days.

Giving myself a high five at the beach | Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie. Photo: Mabel Kwong

Giving myself a high five at the beach | Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie. Photo: Mabel Kwong

This has always baffled me. Numerous times I’ve went down to St Kilda beach on 30-degree days decked out in a loose-fitting white T-shirt and shorts. After ten minutes or so of strolling on the sand under the cloudless sky, beads of sweat scramble to form on my forehead and back.

It baffles me even further when I hear people say they love spending a whole day at the beach on such days. An entire day under the blazing sun.

Of course, some parts of the seaside experience on a sunny summer’s day can be a physically cooling time to say the least. Many of us Australians do try to shield ourselves from the hot, hot sun in an attempt to stay cool. We slap on straw-brimmed hats, sunnies and sunscreen to deflect sunshine away from us. Some of us bring umbrellas and sit under them, cooking up our own shade.

But there’s no denying a good number of us like to lie on the sand under the sun – tanning – in our bathers, exposing a good chunk of our skin to the heated UV rays beating down upon us. Then there are some of us like me who get sunburnt easily at the beach even with SPF 30+ sunscreen slathered all over, dressed in long sleeved clothing. Who wouldn’t feel the slightest bit hot either covered up or not covered up on a hot sunny day at the beach?

Sea breezes billowing from the ocean’s direction no question provide respite from the sun shining all over us at the beach. Gusty sea breezes they are a lot of the time. These refreshing winds can be unpleasant, though, when they whip hot, scratchy sand against our legs and sometimes into our eyes.

Taking a swim or a quick dip in the sea is another way to cool off at the beach. We feel chilly as droplets of water evaporate off us when we come up from the ocean. But once we’re dry, the coolness disappears and we’re left to bake under the sun once again.

It seems that going to the beach is a Western thing. That is, Westerners seem to like going to the beach more compared with Asians and other races. For one, unlike Caucasians, many Asians are not too keen on getting tanned and so naturally the beach wouldn’t be a place they would want to go to too often. That’s not say there aren’t beautiful beaches in Asia. Bali, Phuket and Langkawi host stunning beaches that many Western tourists find very much attractive.

There are certainly reasons why we go to the beach other than to cool off on hot days. We go to the beach to enjoy the sunshine. Play volleyball. Hear the soothing sounds of waves crashing on the shore. Pick up seashells galore. Swim. Surf. Relax. Have fun.

Maybe it boils down to finding a workable tactic to keep us from feeling like a roasting chicken in an oven at the beach. Spending an hour or two at the beach might be the answer for some of us. Or maybe guzzling lots of water to stay hydrated. Perhaps whether we feel hot or not at the beach has something to do with our varying heat tolerance levels or metabolism.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m every bit the summer girl. I love feeling the sand between my toes. I love hearing waves rolling up on the sand. I love feasting my eyes on aqua-coloured water. Late spring or early autumn are times when I prefer to head to the beach, times when I reckon are usually not too hot and not too cold to roam every inch of sandy seashores to my heart’s content without breaking much sweat.

Do you like going to the beach and why?

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35 thoughts on “Why Do We Go To The Beach When It’s Hot?

  1. Interesting…in the States going to the beach it is easy to do a bit of everything: volleyball, catch, running around and collecting things. There is always something to do, and at worse kickback and listen to the waves. However in HK and Asia, I do not do it much unless in the evening…and my Asian friends all think I am crazy when I say let’s go to the beach at noon 🙂

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    • Why don’t you go to the beach in Asia apart in the evenings? I’m guessing it’s a bit too hot and humid over there. I actually shied away from visiting beaches too much when I was in Malaysia because the weather here was uncomfortably sticky. It must be beautiful to go to the beach in the evenings, though – glowing sunsets by the sea 🙂

      Here in Australia, I do notice some of my Asian friends from Asia are keen on visiting our beaches in the middle of the day. Maybe the weather conditions are more favourable here than in their home countries. However, they never fail to carry an umbrella and cover themselves up with long sleeved clothes at the beach.

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      • I think mainly because it is too hot/humid, and in HK swimming in the waters can be a little scary (pollution).

        Australia would be nice…beautiful waters and I think more activities like sailing/wave riders/wind surfing.

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  2. I’m with you, Mabel. I don’t like going to the beach on hot days, either. Now, when it’s cool and overcast, and the beach is empty? Sure! I LOVE the sound of the waves lapping the shore. But I HATE being hot, and I have VERY pale skin and would be lathering up in sun screen like you. I do NOT tan easily, and quite frankly understand that the sun is not good for my skin (which fact many of my Western counterparts just cannot seem to grasp). So I totally understand where you’re coming from. I might go to the beach on a hot day once in a while (with a big umbrella to hide under), but it definitely would not be my favorite pastime.

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    • YES! Going to the beach when it’s not that sunny and, best, empty? I say, bring it on too. It’s just so peaceful at the beach when it’s not swarming with people. You get to feast your eyes on the soft sand and the beautiful sea all in it’s glory – the beauty of nature untainted. Oh dear, you do not tan easily just like me, though I have medium-toned skin. I’m guessing like me, you turn red easily under the sun and it must be a very uncomfortable feeling.

      Come to think of it, I have never been to the beach in winter. I think I might try this this year and see how cold it will be at the beach 🙂

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      • Oh yes, I sunburn very easily, Mabel. I used to be very bothered by my white skin, but I’ve realized how bad tanning is and living in Asia made me appreciate my whiteness. Or at least it doesn’t bother me so much now. And yes, you should definitely go to the beach this winter! It can be very cold then, but I love it when it’s not crowded. How far do you live from the beach?

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        • When I was living in Singapore, I became a very tanned person because the island had sun shining all year round. When I left for Melbourne, I was petrified I would turn alabstar white after a year here (I liked my dark skin) because of the lack of sun in the winter months here. After burning myself a number of times under the harsh Melbourne sun, I have come to love the natural yellow skin colour I have. Just like how you like your white skin.

          The temperature hovers around 13-15’C or 59’F in the afternoon during winter in Melbourne. With a good jacket I think I won’t shake too much at the beach! South Melbourne beach and St Kilda beach (bigger and more scenic) are both just 20 minute tram rides from my place in the city, not far at all. I have heard that the beaches in California are much nicer, though. Crisp white sand, blue waters, reasonable temperatures all year round. And palm trees which Melbourne doesn’t have too much of 🙂

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  3. I love the water and anything to do with the water so the beach is my happy place. I used to be a fair skinned person while living in my hometown but I am now very tanned. Talking about the hot sun and the beach, it reminds me of this song
    ‘we have joy, we have fun, we have seasons in the sun….’

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    • I can so imagine you splashing happily around in the water at the beach! Seems like you don’t mind the sun too much if there’s water around. New Zealand beaches have made you tanned! But I’m sure you don’t mind one bit 🙂

      I love that song, the version by Westlife. It was the song I grew up listening to in high school!

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        • Oh, you’ve got to be kidding! I am very jealous! They did do quite a lot of tours a decade ago but I was a poor, poor child back then. I bet every time you go to the beach you sing Seasons in the Sun to yourself 😀

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          • Talking about the song ‘seasons in the sun’, a couple of days ago, I posted the article ‘missing you’ and the lyrics, ‘goodbye to you my trusted friend’ came into my mind.
            Then as I was reading and commenting your post about the beach and the sun, the whole song came into my head… ‘Goodbye to you my trusted friend….we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the son’. lol.. poor kiddie to miss Westlife and now they are no more… they split up right ? 😦

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  4. I always loved to go to the beach. Whenever we had swimming training camps for example in Spain we went during our free days to the beach for half day, mostly for beachvolley and swimming in the ocean (not that we had enough swimming during those camps…)
    We all were from Finland so we had very pale skin but that is no problem with good UV protection and besides, we love anything which is warm. At least I have no problem whether it is outside +40 degrees celsius or -30 degrees celsius, my wife on the other hand suffers alot in both situations 🙂

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    • It seems that many Westerners love anything that is warm. Which is fair enough to say, since most of the time in Western countries the weather doesn’t get much hotter than 20 odd degrees apart in the summer. Though I am Asian, summer is my preferred season in Melbourne – can’t stand anything below 20’C. I’ve noticed sport is very popular at the beach. There’s just something very nice about exercising hearing the sound of waves crashing in your ear.

      What, are you kidding me??? You’re okay with 40+’C or the negative way round? Kidding, right? :O Recently it was 40’C in Melbourne and all I could do was sit in my chair and drink water.

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      • Traveling around China during July can be really hot. Usually when the temperatures go from 38C upwards I am the only one from the family going around. Sure it is hot but I don’t really suffer as long as I have something little to drink with me. In winter it can reach in the areas of Finland somtimes even -40 (record is -53 but that is just crazy) so -30 is not that bad thanks to appropriate winter clothings, only bad thing is that the car has problems starting 🙂

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        • My, so it is true. You CAN get around in extreme temperatures. I both applaud you and take my hat off to you for that. I think -30’C would definitely be too cold for the beach – the waves lapping at the shore will probably turn into ice. No fun swimming in the ocean.

          I’ll be attempting to go to the beach in Melbourne this winter when it’s 10’C. Don’t think I’ll fare as well as you in such temperatures 🙂

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    • Seems like everyone but me likes swimming in the sea 🙂 Yeah, if you get wet at the beach on a hot sunny day it usually takes about ten minutes tops to dry off on shore…which is another excuse to go back for another dip in the ocean 🙂

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    • Thanks, Dedy. Beaches never fail to have nice views. I’ve been to Indonesia some years back but didn’t get the chance to go to the beaches. I heard they are very beautiful in your part of the world 🙂

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  6. I don’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as when I was younger, especially when I was a teen. In a group we’d spend nearly all day in the water, swimming, surfing, jumping from the rocks and snorkelling. Sitting on the beach itself was only a small part of the day and was mainly for snacking and, ummm, perving. Even today I get bored quickly on the beach itself and have to get into the water.

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  7. Interesting post about the differences of westeners and Asians. I don’t like lying on the hot sand hot days. I love going to the beach when it is empty and I can bring my two dogs. They are old water dogs, so splashing around is fun. The sound and the smell of the sea I love. Winter time when there is snow and ice on the beach is very special too. I do like to swim, but as we have a summer cottage close to the sea, I swim there and then walk up to dry in a comfortable chair – in the sun. But that’s only to dry up. I burn easily, so mostly I sit under a parasol with a good book, Of course I play with my dogs and when the children are at home we play games like badminton and others. I love walking barefoot in the sand.

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    • Thanks for sharing, Leya. Sounds like you’re a beach lover when it isn’t a blazing day. It’s great that you bring your dogs along – plenty of room for them to roam and run about, and cool off when the weather’s a bit warm. I love walking barefoot in the sand too! I love it how when your feet slowy sink into the sand, yet miraculously you’re still upright 🙂

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  8. An entire day at the beach is too much for me! But I love going to the beach (yes, lots of sunscreen, sunglasses and hat are a must). Apart from swimming I have a frisbee, which can seem like a stupid game for dogs, but it’s great fun 🙂

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    • Yes, me too! A whole day at the beach is also a bit overwhelming for me – all wrinkly from wading in the water all day, not to mention getting sunburnt and hot skin all over me. I don’t see people playing frisbee much at the beach these days. Maybe it’s just not popular here in Australia, or we’re just afraid of knocking someone’s large floppy hat off their heads with the flying frisbee 🙂

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  9. On a very hot day, I would not even consider going to the beach – too hot, too crowded. I’d much rather sit in air conditioned comfort with a drink. Plus less risk of melanoma this way. However, the beach is an iconic way of life here.

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    • I agree with you completely there. Why go to a place crammed with people – and it’s hot? Chances are the bright sun will make you squint and you may not see that big person in front of you at the beach 🙂

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  10. I’m not a big beach person. The whole sunbathing thing baffles me. However, when I was younger I was heavily into wind surfing, so to me heading to the coast means watersports! BTW, California beaches are wonderful, mainly because the ocean currents along the US west coast bring cold arctic water from the north to the south. This cold water can make for a downright chilly sea breeze at times. That’s also why you see California surfers wearing wetsuits!

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    • Yes, water sports at the beach. Sailing, gliding, scuba diving…I completely forgot all about those! But then again, I’m not much of a water person 🙂 I suppose cool waters are good to take a dip or a swim in on warm days. However, I’m sure sea currents change all the time and when the waves and currents are too strong sometimes it’s not too fun to be in the water. Ah, so that’s why wetsuits are so popular over in your part of the world. Never knew that, thought it was a fashion thing. Thanks for sharing.

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