Speedos, Nudity and Sharks: What's Normal at the Beach?

Yahoo TravelJuly 14, 2014

Tis’ the season for bikinis, bonfires, and beach balls.  Whether you find yourself beaching nearly every weekend or planning one big getaway by the water, you’re in good company.

Beaches are the summer’s most popular vacation destination according to a recent survey from Expedia. 

The study also reveals some delightful statistics about the correlation between beach vacations and happiness, attitudes toward beach attire (to Speedo, or Speedon’t), and the priorities of dedicated beach-goers.

Is your beach behavior normal? (Photo: Thinkstock)

More than half of survey respondents took a beach vacation in the past year. Of those who have taken a beach holiday, 62% said they traveled beyond their home country, and 59% went as far as a different continent. According to the study, residents of Thailand (82%), South Korea (79%), Spain (78%) and Italy (77%) were the most likely to take a beach vacation last year while those least likely to head for the water were residents of Japan (22%), Denmark (36%) and the Netherlands (38%).

Related: 7 Affordable Beach Hotels Around the World


For many, the beach isn’t an occasional indulgence—it’s a necessity. Beach travelers link their overall happiness to regular beach vacations.Worldwide, almost three-quarters (73%) of people who have taken or plan on taking a beach trip within the year say they closely associate regular beach vacations with their overall level of happiness. In fact, some people are willing to go to great lengths to maximize their beach time. 29% of survey respondents said that they would “work weekends for a month” in order to free up time for one extra beach vacation per year. 25% would give up one week’s salary, and the 11% that are truly dedicated would be willing to experience influenza for a full 48 hours if it means getting a beach vacation in return!

Related: The Most Stunning Rainbow Beaches in the World


An overwhelming amount of respondents prioritize relaxation on their beach vacations. 88% of beach travelers say that they will select a calmer destination. Not surprisingly, taking walks, going for a swim, sunbathing, and reading are the most popular activities. Partying ranks lowest in the list of beach vacation activities. The vacation mentality can cause people to do things that are beyond their norm—sometimes even uncharacteristic. Some just want to indulge. According to Expedia’s survey, the top beach vacation indulgences are sleeping in and spending more on food (and eating more) than one normally would. Fun fact: at 69%, Austrians were the world’s likeliest to prioritize a nap, and the Irish (53%) were the world’s likeliest to over-indulge with food. Brazilians (56%) and Italians (54%) were the most likely to indulge in physical intimacy with their significant others.


When it comes to the beach, one of those most frequently debated topics is attire—how little is too little?  Nearly ¾ of respondents across the world are okay with speedos at the beach with acceptance highest among Brazilians and Austrians. In fact, almost two-in-ten men wore a speedo on their last vacation, and in Brazil, speedos outnumber swim trunks 60% to 54% at the beach. Only 57% of Americans said that they were okay with such scant attire. For the ladies, those most likely to wear a bikini were Norwegians, Italians, and Brazilians. On the opposite end, those least likely to break out a two-piece were Thai, Japanese, Indians, and South Koreans.

Should you leave your teeny-weeny mankini at home? (Photo: Thinkstock)


Barely there swimwear is one thing, but how do people feel about nudity? 50% of respondents globally say they feel comfortable being on a beach where others are nude or topless.  Spaniards (73%), Japanese (72%) and the French (66%) are the most comfortable, while those in Hong Kong (29%), India (29%) and Malaysia (34%) are least comfortable. Beach nudity is also more common among men (18%) than women (6%) worldwide, and toplessness is a largely European phenomenon. Across continents, 1-in-5 women say they have gone topless at a beach, with Austrians (49%), Spaniards (42%) and Germans (39%) being the most likely to do so. Germans and Austrians are also the most likely to spend their beach day in the nude!

Related: Nude Beach Etiquette 


44% of respondents worldwide express anxiety around shark attacks, with beach-goers from Brazil (84%), Hong Kong (70%) and Malaysia (70%) expressing the most fear. A full 50% of beach-goers report that they are afraid to swim at the beach due to sharks, though 35% of that group will swim regardless.

More than half of beach visitors are afraid of sharks. (Photo: Thinkstock)


In this day and age, a vacation is incomplete if it isn’t chronicled on social media. More than half of survey respondents would agree: 55% share photos and videos from their beach trips—with 18% posting in order to make friends jealous! However, the majority do not post until they have returned from the vacation because they want to enjoy their time away.

Related: America’s Buzziest Beach Towns

No matter where you stand on the spectrum of beach-goers, it’s safe to say there’s a beach out there for everyone. So, if the a/c at work isn’t cutting it this summer, grab your passport and head for the water!

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