I have grown up on the Jersey Shore my entire life, so I have been observing these traffic-causing tourists for quite a long time — we (not so) fondly call them “Benny”s. The name stands for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York. Now in order to be a Benny, you don’t have to be from these exact locations; these are just the select places that made it into the acronym for some reason. You can be from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island or really anywhere to be considered a Benny. You are a benny if you have to make a whole day trip, or even an entire vacation out of going to the beach.
1. Stop wearing sneakers to the beach.
You look ridiculous wearing closed footwear on the sand. I get that the sand can be very hot but it’s also harder to walk on sand while wearing shoes. We are all embarrassed for you. You’re going to end up with wet shoes and socks and a big mess in your car. It’s just not worth it. Invest in a pair of sandals or flip-flops; you will not regret that decision. (Or as many of us locals do, just don’t wear any shoes on the beach.)
2. Do not sit right on top of another person or group.
It’s understandable that the beaches can get very crowded and that sometimes personal space isn’t really an option on a busy Saturday morning, but if you can help it, try to maintain distance from other people enjoying the beautiful weather. It is very obnoxious when you’re sitting on the beach and a big family sits right in front of you, merely inches away. Then there are kids running around and screaming, getting sand in your eyes and you can’t even see the ocean anymore because their massive umbrella is in the way. There should be AT LEAST 10 feet in between all groups at the beach. Period.
3. Don’t smoke on the beach.
It’s bad enough that there are cigarette butts covering every inch of the beach as it is, but beaches are also riddled with little kids and smoking in their presence is extremely insensitive. I know they’re trying to pass a law that makes smoking on most New Jersey beaches illegal, but just refrain from busting out your pack of Marlboros for the sake of the people around you, regardless of what the law says. Again, the beaches are packed and you could be sitting next to a group of people who suffer from asthma or a cigarette smoke allergy. Just don’t do it.
4. Don’t blast music.
Your little girls might be obsessed with the Frozen soundtrack, but if you are bringing portable speakers to the beach, keep it down. There are so many people in close proximity to you who will not appreciate hearing “Love Is An Open Door” play 80 times in a row. Most of the locals have books or magazines to read and are very uninterested in obnoxiously loud Disney music.
5. When you’re getting ready to leave, DO NOT SHAKE THE SAND OFF OF YOUR TOWELS IN OTHER PEOPLE’S DIRECTION.
This one is a probably my biggest pet peeve. Seriously. This has been happening to me since I was a little kid and it never ceases to irritate me beyond belief. You want the sand off of your towel, I know, but softly wiggle the towel below your waist to avoid getting it in the eyes of the people around you. There’s nothing worse than getting sand in your eyes as you’re sunbathing. It’s inconsiderate and it screams Benny.
6. Don’t bring those big beach carriages with you.
If you know what I’m talking about, you either own one or have rolled your eyes at people who have them on the beach. Yes, it fits all of your food, water bottles, towels, sunscreen, chairs, beach toys, and small children, but you look dumb. These things are gigantic and bringing them around the beach is a pain for everyone involved, including the people behind you on the boardwalk who just want to get around you. When you push one of those carriages around, you’re basically wearing a sign that reads, “I am the person who caused the traffic and took your parking spot.”
So if we can all follow this beach etiquette and be respectful of one another, both locals and bennies can enjoy the remainder of the summer on the Shore in harmony.