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.
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?