Going to the beach, sunbathing and taking a dip in refreshing seawater while it’s hot outside is one of the most relaxing things you can do. But it can be mingled with stressful feelings if you have to worry about your valuables being stolen.
Often thieves will scavenge the beaches for expensive items like smartphones, cameras, jewelry and wallets. If there’s no one watching out for your items while you’re swimming, you could fall victim to their attacks.
But there’s no reason to despair, because there are many ways minimize or completely eliminate this risk. In this article I’ll share with you 16 easy and practical tips that can help you achieve just that:
1. Don’t take expensive items to the beach
This is the most effective tip. If you can, leave your smartphone, wallet and other expensive items in the hotel room or wherever you’re staying. If you have to bring some of these items consider doing it in a smarter way:
- Instead of taking your entire wallet or purse, bring only some cash you’ll need for the time being. Store it in well-sealed zippered pocket so you can take it with you while you’re swimming.
- Take the minimum of electronics. Instead of bringing your smartphone or electronic reader, take a physical book, a magazine or newspaper instead. Thieves are usually not interested in literature or the latest gossip!
- Don’t take your valuable documents to the beach, including your passport.
- If you’re determined to take pictures, you’ll obviously need a camera. In that case a small compact point and shoot camera is better than a large DSLR camera that is highly noticeable. A waterproof one like the latest GoPro camera is an excellent choice because you can have it on you while swimming and record some amazing footage at the same time.
- If there’s a safe locker room area nearby, use it. But make sure to use your own padlock and key.
- If you’ve checked out of your hotel already but still want to go to the beach, you can ask the receptionist to store your luggage and other valuables for a little while longer. Whether that’s possible depends on the hotel you’re staying in, so be sure to ask.
2. Be aware of your environment and unusual distractions
Petty thieves operate on the beach by looking for bags and other items that are left unattended. Be aware of this by observing your surroundings before taking a dip.
The second popular strategy they use is to distract the person.
This usually happens if they work in groups. One thief will ask you for assistance with something or pretend to be injured.
While all the eyeballs are centered on him, the other thief can snatch the items that are left unattended.
This usually won’t happen in smaller resorts or cities in general. But a large city with millions of inhabitants is where you should watch out for this second tactic because catching a petty thief in a large beehive like that can be close to impossible. Especially since the authorities have “better things to do” than look for a tourist’s laptop or smartphone that went missing on the beach.
3. Go in water in turns
If you’re solo on the beach this method unfortunately doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re with someone, you can go swimming in turns. This way one of you can keep an eye out for your things at all times.
If you’re solo, at least try not to go too far. If there’s room on the beach, place your things closer to water so you can keep an eye on it even while you’re swimming nearby.
4. Keep your items in safest place possible
If you’re in a group, keep your items in the center of the group where they’re more visible and harder to reach for any passer by.
If you’re alone, keep them near you, under the towel if possible so that the items are hard to notice and hard to reach without you being alarmed by the movement.
If you have a habit of taking a nap on the beach, use one of the lockable bags and safes mentioned later in this article. Lock your stuff beforehand, place the key somewhere safe (your bathing suit, a zipped pocket, under the towel..) and then go for a nap.
5. Sit near the lifeguard
The duty of a lifeguard is to observe the environment at all times.
For that reason they’re also a great deterrent against thieves.
Sit near the lifeguard tower, and if you can become friendly with the lifeguards, you can ask them to keep an eye out for your things.
6. Ask a neighbor to watch out for your things
What about that fellow human sunbathing next to you? Or perhaps that large family on vacation? You can ask them to watch your things while you’re swimming.
However, this involves some social intelligence to recognize if the person is trustworthy or not. Of course, you can never be completely sure, but here are some guidelines to follow:
- families with kids
- older couples
- solo female travelers
- people who’ve rented a sun lounge or a beach chair (they could be identified by the renter if anything happens)
More risky groups of people includes:
- groups of teenagers and local kids
- solo men
- people drinking alcohol or constantly moving around
7. Hide cash and smaller items in a bottle
In fact, there’s this clever steel “stash-it” bottle designed for this purpose (you can still drink from it of course).
The cool thing with this bottle is that you can unscrew the bottom in order to store larger items which couldn’t be moved through the bottleneck. Pretty neat.
8. Bury items in the sand
Pretty simple hiding tactic – throw some sand on your things! This can get your items dirty however, so having a sand-proof bag can come in handy for doing this.
The problem with this tactic is that people around you (including the observing thieves) can notice you hiding the stuff. So this tactic is best used when the beach is sort of empty and you’re going for a long swim, so that no surprises happen while you’re away.
9. Use a locker for rent
Some beach resorts have lockers for rent. This is a great solution for storing most items.
But I highly suggest using your own padlock because no one can guarantee that there aren’t any thieves among the staff. This is not paranoia on my behalf, I’ve seen this happen many times with peoples stuff going missing in hostel locker rooms.
Padlocks are pretty cheap and if you get a combination padlock you don’t even have to worry about carrying the key.
10. Use a Waterproof Smartphone Pouch
These dry bags are excellent because you can take your smartphone and other smaller items with you while swimming.
Some of these pouches are also sensitive to touch, so you can take photos and record with your smartphone/camera while you’re in the water.
They’re also really inexpensive, usually costing less than $10. Just make sure that they’re fully waterproof. There are a few excellent waterproof pouches available on Amazon:
With over 25 000 reviews on Amazon, this is the most popular smartphone pouch of all time. It’s fully waterproof, snowproof and dirtproof. It has clear windows on both sides so it’s perfect for taking pictures, videos etc.
It can be used with devices that are up to 100mm x 170mm.
Some smartphones that can fit inside are: Apple iPhone 6S, 6, 6S Plus, SE, 5S, Samsung Galaxy S7, S6 Note 7 5, HTC LG Sony Nokia Motorola up to 6.0″ diagonal
It comes with a neck strap for easier and safer carrying. To prevent your items from falling out, it features a simple snap-and-lock access.
It’s also very affordable, being under $10 at the moment of writing.
This waterproof pouch is completely waterproof down to 100 ft. which is why it’s called a submariner.
It has a 30% stronger welded seam than its competitors, making it a safer choice than others and excellent for taking underwater pictures thanks to the crystal clear material.
It can also fit phones that are up to 6.3″ in length while other pouches are typically for only 6″ or less. On top of that, it’s large enough to store other items, like a credit card, wallet, cash, key etc.
It has a fully clear front and back and you can touch & talk through it. It’s shock absorbing in case you drop it.
Along with the 5 year warranty and affordable price (around $10) it’s arguably the best choice, especially if your smartphone happens to be longer than 6″.
11. Use a Waterproof Dry Bag
This dry bags are larger than a pouch and float on water. This is a great solution if you have more items, especially larger ones. They can float alongside you in the water so you can be completely sure your stuff is secure.
Always test the bag in water before storing your items inside to make sure that there aren’t any leaks.
The best bag according to user reviews is the Freegrace Waterproof Dry Bag, which has a have useful features that make it stand apart:
- Double zip-lock seals, which provide improved waterproof safety
- A bonus waterproof phone case, with dual sided clear windows and touch sensitivity so you can use your phone in water.
- Very lightweight, which makes it easy to move around with in water
- There are 4 different sizes available: 2L, 5L, 10L, 35-50L
Whether you’re looking for extra security on the beach or need a storage companion for kayaking, rafting, fishing and other water-included activities, this is a very practical solution.
12. Waist Strap Water Proof Pouch
If you’re worried that a waterproof pouch or bag would limit your mobility in water, getting a pouch with a waist strap is the best solution.
It won’t limit your mobility nor will you have to think about the items because they’ll be by your waist side or crossbody at all times.
Naturally, this pouch is designed for storing smaller items like a smartphone, wallet, cash, keys, a smaller camera etc.
The GoBackTrail is the most popular waist-strapped pouch on the market for a number of reasons:
- 3 zip seals and fold over Velcro top
- durable and soft high-density PVC makes it soft and comfortable to wear but also provides waterproof quality
- the material is touch screen responsive, so you can use your smartphone without opening the pouch
- includes 4 bonus opaque credit card size zip pouches for extra waterproof protection and so that people can’t see the information
- Pretty affordable at under $20 at the moment of writing
13. Anti-Theft Beach Bag
Any anti-theft bag or backpack can be useful on the beach. They are usually slash-proof, waterproof, have lockable compartments and they can be locked to a fixed structure.
But anti-theft BEACH bags have a few extra features that can come in handy during those hot summer days, namely the cooling compartments. They also fit better in a beach environment design wise. Arguably the best anti theft beach bag is:
- combination lock zipper
- light-weight, cut resistant liner
- detachable, padded cable straps can be used to attach the bag to stationary objects
- inside RFID pocket to protect passport, cards and keys
- large interior with mesh pockets for smaller items and padded section for electronics
- separate cooler compartment with ice pack pocket
- Made from 100% UV-resistant, waterproof and slash proof polyester material
- Available in 6 different colors
The price of this bag is a little steep for most people, being at around $130. Here is a list of more affordable anti-theft backpacks that still provide great security.
14. Anti Theft Pool Pouch
If you don’t need a large bag to store your items safely, use this aesthetic lockable pool pouch instead. It can be locked to your sun lounge or a different object. It’s large enough to store an e-reader, phone, cash, credit cards or any other small valuables you’re carrying.
The water-resistant nylon and combination zipper lock will keep your items dry and secure, while the double-loop tether cable is resistant enough to deter petty thieves. Of course, a determined thief could find a way to cut the cable.
But beach thieves don’t want to be spotted doing anything suspicious. So if there are people around, this pool pouch can be very useful, especially as a safety addition while you’re sunbathing or taking a nap and don’t want to worry about your items being stolen.
15. Beach Towel with Zip Pocket
Most beach thieves look for bags that are left unattended. If they see only a towel, they’ll probably look elsewhere for larger bounty. But they might move the towel to see if there’s anything of value hidden under it.
This is where a towel with a zip pocket comes in handy. Even if they move the towel, your small valuables like cash and keys will be hidden inside that small towel pocket!
Is this the perfect burglar proof solution? Certainly not, but it’s a great hiding spot if you’re only carrying some cash, credit cards, a slim smartphone or keys which won’t create a large bulge.
The DryFoxCo 100% microfiber beach towel is a great choice for this. If you’re looking for a thickened towel with pockets for a beach chair, the YOULERBU towel is very comfortable and has large pockets.
16. Portable Beach Safe or Lock Box
Beach safes (also known as beach lock boxes) are becoming increasingly popular. Some beach resorts even rent them. But safes-for-rent are still pretty rare, so your best bet is to get one beforehand.
A beach safe is a more secure alternative to anti-theft bags thanks to sturdier, multi-layer material, and usually provides more storage space as well. So you can store your laptop, cameras, tablets, food and overall more items. Of course, there are smaller lock boxes available as well.
Keep in mind that you’ll need some stationary object to lock the safe unto, otherwise it could get stolen just like a bag. That stationary object can be a beach chair, an umbrella, a fence, a metal pole etc.
These three are the most popular beach & travel safes at the moment:
This is by far the most popular safe of this kind, with over 1200 customer reviews on Amazon. Furthermore, over 95% of those reviews are 4 or 5 stars. There are multiple reasons why this safe is so popular:
- awesome design, with 4 different colors to choose from
- made from rust, impact and water resistant material
- contains a heavy-duty flexible steel cable to secure around a fixed object
- can be locked/unlocked with a 3-digit custom combination code or a unique key (both are included)
- has earphone and charger access
- affordable price
This is also one of the more affordable beach lock boxes on the market. It costs around $40 at the moment of writing and comes with a 90 day warranty.
While the SAFEGO lock box we just saw looks feminine, the FlexSafe has a mode neutral design and would fit well in multiple settings.
Practical features that need to be mentioned are:
- Ultra slash-resistant and waterproof material
- Reprogrammable lock
- Five layer heavy duty construction
- RFID blocking and integrally locking flap (Instead of a cord which can be cut easily, lock the flap over any fixed object!)
- Belt loop, storage pockets and padded carry strap are included
This safe cost around $70. It’s a worthwhile investment because it’s durable and strong enough to protect your items in all kinds of conditions:
The integrally locking flap is the distinctive feature that makes it a more secure solution than many other safes and lock boxes.
It has a very aesthetic design that fits well in any environment, beach or indoors. It’s large enough to store smaller items like a smartphone, wallet, keys, jewelry, cash etc.
- can be fixed to a stationary object with the in-built security cable
- set your own four-digit combination lock
- ear bud/charging cable access port
- water resistant material and shock absorbing foam interior
While this is a nice looking, versatile and affordable lock box, it’s not the best quality. This is more of a deterrent and something to provide a bit of extra security while you’re taking a dip in the pool. Not a solution for leaving your items on the beach for too long. But for those on a tight budget, it’s arguably the best under $20 lock box on the market.
Final Thoughts on Beach Safety
To secure valuables at the beach all you need is some common sense. Leave at home overly expensive or important items you couldn’t live without if they got stolen.
For a digital nomad, that would be a laptop, and any person would struggle if their passport and credit cards went missing.
If you have to carry larger items at the beach, lock them up in safe storage. That can be a rented locker, an anti-theft backpack or a lock box.
The best way to secure items is to carry them with you in water. For larger items you can use a large floating dry bag. For smaller ones like smartphone and cash there are numerous waterproof pouches.
Along with this security gear, be aware of your environment and use it to your advantage. Park your stuff close to a lifeguard tower or ask friendly people to keep an eye on it while you’re in water.
Worrying about your stuff being stolen can lead to a lot of stress! And you’re going to the beach to get rid of stress.
Taking these precautionary measures can improve the quality of your beach adventures and improve your overall levels of relaxation.
For that reason I hope you’ll use them to your advantage and have the time of your life this summer!