10 ways you can keep safe at the beach

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Summer is the perfect time to take a trip to the beach. The salt in your hair and cool water on your skin while the sun beats down is an unbeatable feeling! But beach season doesn't just mean sunshine – it also means thieves on the prowl. While you should be alert and keep your wits about you, you shouldn't be worrying about the safety of your valuables every second of your beach day. Consider using a few of these tips to keep your valuables safe and give you peace of mind.

1. Use a waterproof smartphone pouch or dry bag

Protecting your technology from water damage has come a long way from the traditional ziplock bag. Now, there are dedicated waterproof phone pouches. These pouches are typically made of thick layers of plastic to seal out any water. Not only are they perfect for keeping your phone close to you, but many have several slots, so you can keep your ID or debit cards with you while you’re away from the shore. 

Nowadays, most phones are at least a little bit water resistant, so if a drop of water manages to weasel its way in, it's not the end of the world. Any photos you take with the pouch will probably end up a bit blurry, and won’t be all that good quality because of the plastic blocking the camera. If you're serious about taking some underwater shots, consider getting a waterproof camera.

The ProCase Universal Waterproof Case can be worn around your neck or tied around your waist, and it's not limited to storing your phone. You can keep your cards, money, passport and keys close to you (or anything you can squish in there, really). 

It's IPX8 weatherproof rating means it's built to withstand water, sand, and dust. Its screen is scratch-resistant and touch sensitive, so it can be used in the water just as you would on land.

If you want something bigger to bring with you when swimming, consider a dry bag. We’d recommend opting for the pouch over a bag, as they’re more lightweight, but it depends on how much you need to bring with you. 

That being said, dry bags are more versatile and can be taken and used more outside of the beach. They’re an ideal choice if you want to bring lots of possessions with you to the beach, so it's up to you. Many can be locked, so you can rest assured that no one is going to try and ruffle around searching for your valuables. That won't stop them from grabbing it and running, though. Try burying the bag in the sand, and covering it with your towel as an extra precaution.

2. Bring a lockable bag

Another option for bags to protect your belongings is an anti-theft or lockable bag. It essentially acts as a beach safe, with puncture-proof zippers and durable material. While this won't stop a thief from running off with the whole bag as we mentioned, it'll make it harder for them to steal your valuables or rummage around in the bag for something they can swipe. Thieves are generally opportunists and will take possessions when no one's looking. If it's too much of a hassle, they'll probably give up.

3. Leave your valuables at home

Think about what you actually need to bring to the beach with you. Most of the time, you don’t need to pack expensive jewellery or technology. There’s little reason for you to have valuable items (like your passport, and all of your credit cards) on you when you’re probably going to be spending the majority of the day swimming or sunbaking. Take the basics, like your debit card and a bit of cash, and leave the rest at home. Bringing all of your valuable documents, technology, or jewellery makes you a prime target for theft, and the more valuables you have, the harder it will be for you to keep them safe. 

If you absolutely must bring more than the basics and you’re going with a few friends or family members, leave your belongings in the car. 

4. Use a locker

Some beaches are lucky enough to have a locker service, where you can keep your valuables safe for a small fee. Many offer either whole-day services or lockers available for just an hour or two. 

Before deciding on a beach, search online for beaches with lockers. Peruse Google and TripAdvisor for reviews on any beaches with lockers close to where you’d like to go – while it's not always common for public beaches to have lockers, some do have them. If you’re paddleboarding or kayaking, for example, they’ll probably have lockers for you to keep your belongings safe in. 

It's worth noting that beach lockers are more common in Europe than they are in Australia, with some included in the fee you pay when renting out a beach chair or umbrella.

5. Rent a paddleboard or kayak

If there are no lockers on the beach, sus out any nearby paddleboard or kayak spots to see if they’ll hold onto your things. Depending on how your day is structured, you could always book a kayak session and then see if they’ll hold your things while you take a quick dip in the water. The best practice is to ask before you rent. If the price for storing your belongings in their lockers is a reasonable price, it could be worthwhile to store them there while you visit the beach and come collect them at the end of the day.

6. Sit near the lifeguard

If you’re going to the beach alone, make sure you don’t choose an isolated spot, which can make you an easy target for crooks. Try and set up in close proximity to the lifeguard’s chair. While their job is to save people from drowning, they’re also in charge of observing and creating a safe environment for all who visit the beach. If your belongings are in their line of sight, they’re more likely to spot a thief or catch them in the act.

7. Ask someone on the beach to keep an eye on your belongings

Not all beaches will have a lifeguard, especially if the beach you’re travelling to is off the beaten path and not frequented by other travellers. If you don’t choose to sit close to the lifeguard, choose to sit near a family instead. If you’re travelling solo or with a friend, surveying the area for a lifeguard or family should be the first thing you do upon arrival. 

While sitting in plain view of other beach-goers is a way to keep your things safe, you could ask them to keep an eye on your things while you take a dip. In Australia, people are generally quite friendly, and won’t mind guarding your things for half an hour or so to give you some peace of mind. 

Ask someone who looks reliable or trustworthy, like families with kids, or an older couple. As presumptuous as it is, we’d avoid asking men travelling solo, teenagers, or any loud or day drinking groups. People of all demographics can be trustworthy, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Whoever you choose, be sure to thank them, or offer to pay them back with a lemonade or a cold beer, in true Australian fashion. This isn't a foolproof way of keeping your belongings safe and secure, but it’s a good technique to fall back on if there are no other options. 

If you’re heading to the beach with other family members or friends, consider taking shifts to watch the group’s belongings. There’s typically one person in the group who prefers to sunbake or read on the sand instead of spending the majority of the day in the water. If your group happens to have one, be sure to thank them for their service!

8. Avoid bringing expensive technology

Take a book or newspaper instead of an e-reader

If you’re a bookworm like me, opt for a hardcover or physical book instead of an e-reader. Apart from being difficult to read in the glare of the sun, they can also make you a prime target for thieves. Bringing a physical book can also double up as a hiding spot for any of your valuables. Depending on the size and thickness of your book, it can make the perfect hiding spot for your debit card, ID, cash, and smartphone.

Use your smartphone for photos instead of an expensive camera

Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to use that expensive camera on the family beach trip? Unless you intend to take some professional photos for a portfolio or spend minimal time in the water, leave the DSLR at home. Not only are those cameras huge, bulky, and easy to spot from far away, but their fragile lenses also make them a prime target for sand and water damage. If you want to enjoy your day without worrying about how safe your multi-thousand-dollar camera is on the shore, get a GoPro with a wrist or body strap. You can stow it away in a waterproof bag or pouch, and use it for some impressive surfing or underwater footage.

9. Ask the staff at a nearby restaurant or cafe

Is there a bar, cafe, or restaurant near the beach you're travelling to? Ask a waiter or member of the bar staff if you can store your valuables with them while you go for a swim. The response will vary based on the establishment, and they can’t always guarantee they’ll be watching your belongings at all times.

They might refuse because they don’t want to be held liable in case your belongings do get stolen, but it's worth a shot – the worst they can say is no. If they agree, ask them where the belongings will be kept, by whom, and for how long – ideally it’ll be stored behind the bar where a bartender will be stationed for the entirety of their shift, for example. 

Lock your bag if possible before leaving it with them, and give them a time frame of when you’ll be back to collect it. We’d advise against leaving it in their care for the whole day, as they're likely to decline. Opt for an hour or two instead while you take a quick dip.

10. Hide your items

Get creative

Stash your cash, ID, keys, or smartphone into an empty chip packet, Pringles can, or sunscreen bottle. Just make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned first. You could even use an empty box of pads or tampons, or a disposal nappy. Crumple it up to make it look used, further deterring any thieves far away from your precious valuables. Either way, a thief is probably not going to look at a box of tampons or a nappy and think they’ve struck gold. 

Some wise travellers even bring a decoy wallet while storing their cash elsewhere, like in a chapstick. If a thief ends up taking the wallet expecting a payday, they’re in for a shock.

In the sand under a beach towel

If you already have an anti-theft or lockable bag, great. If not, use any of the above-mentioned containers to hide your valuables, bury them under a few layers of sand, and lay your beach towel over the top. You know where your treasure lies because of the beach towel, but any thieves on the prowl will be none the wiser.

Final word

No method on our list is going to be 100% safe. You might be the one unlucky beachgoer who gets their bag stolen, even though you’ve used every measure possible. Or you might ask the sweet old lady to look after your things, and she ends up taking off with your belongings and selling them on eBay. The important part of keeping your belongings safe at the beach is doing what you can to minimise your risk of becoming a victim of theft.

Furthermore, use your common sense. Don’t leave your iPad out in plain view while you go get ice cream, and don’t expect a group of rowdy teenage boys to keep your valuables safe. Follow our tips to conceal your valuables, and either keep them on you, hide them, or avoid bringing them. 

Hannah Geremia
Written by
Hannah Geremia
Hannah has had over six years of experience in researching, writing, and editing quality content. She loves gaming, dancing, and animals, and can usually be found under a weighted blanket with a cup of coffee and a book.

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