Want to soak up the sun on beautiful beaches in Spanish-speaking countries?
Whether you’re planning a trip Ibiza or Cancún – or dreaming of a Spanish beach from afar – Spanish beach vocabulary will come in handy.
From building sand castles with your kids, to surfing and sunbathing, all your beach vocabulary is covered here. Soon, you’ll be jet setting around the Spanish-speaking world, chatting with the natives about how much you enjoy la playa – “the beach” in Spanish.
If you’re not going to the beach any time soon, many of these words are still useful at the pool. Or, use these words to tell a beach story next time you chat with your language exchange partner.
Envision you’re already there and enjoying your vacation, and let’s learn!
Going to the Beach in Spanish: Do You Take all These 21 Things With You to the Beach?
You’re heading out to la playa, and you need to pack your things for the day. You’ll need to put on your el bañador (“swimsuit”) before you go. And load up the cooler full of la comida (“food”). Don’t forget your essentials like la toalla (“towel”), las chanclas (“flip flops”), and el protector solar (“sunscreen”). What other things might you load up?
- Sunglasses: Las gafas de sol
- Umbrella: La sombrilla
- Beach bag: La bolsa de playa
- Beach chair: La silla de playa
- Hat: El Sombrero
- Cooler: La nevera
- Snacks and drinks: Los aperitivos y bebidas
- Water bottles: Las botellas de agua
- Music speakers: Los altavoces de música
- Headphones: Los auriculares
- Book: El libro
- Magazine: La revista
- Camera: La cámara
- Beach ball: La pelota de playa
- Shovel and pail: La pala y el cubo
- Surfboard: La tabla de surf
Some words are used interchangeably with others, like las sandalias (“sandals”) instead of las chanclas, and bloqueador solar (“sunblock”) instead of protector solar. And, don’t confuse a beach umbrella with a regular one: paraguas are the kind used for rain, and sombrilla are used to block the sun.
While you’re loading up to go to the beach (or even a pool or splash park), practise naming each item you pack to reinforce what you learn.
On the Beach in Spanish: Talking about Things You’ll Find on a Spanish Beach
Now, tu estas en la playa – “You’re on the beach” in Spanish. The sand is hot, the breeze feels nice and the sun is bright… If you go to a beach in Ibiza, and someone asks you how it was, you want to be able to say more than Estuvo bien.
Here’s how to describe things you may see on a Spanish beach:
“Sand” and “Sun” in Spanish: 27 Words and Phrases You’ll Use in the Spanish Sunshine
“Sun” in Spanish is el sol. If you wanted to describe it, you could say El sol es brillante for “The sun is bright” or Está caliente for “It’s hot.” “Sand” in Spanish is la arena. If you go with your kids (or you’re just a kid at heart), you could construir un castillo de arena, “build a sandcastle”.
Here are other things you’ll see and experience on the shoreline:
- Shore: La orilla
- Seashell: La concha marina or la concha
- Sand dollars: Los dólares de arena
- Seagulls: Las gaviotas
- Pelicans: Los pelícanos
- Tourists: Los turistas
- Families: Las familias
- Surfers: Los surfistas or tablistas
- Lifeguards: Los/Las salvavidas
- Bay: La bahía
- Resort: El balneario
- Island: La isla
- Port: El puerto
- Swimming pool: La piscina
- Condo: El condominio
- Ocean view: La vista al mar
- Coast: La costa
- Boat: El barco
- Sunset: La puesta de sol
- Sunrise: La salida del sol
- Breeze: La brisa
Practise making sentences describing your stay. Did you stay in el condominio or el balneario? Were there many los turistas y las familias or more tablistas? Did you see la puesta de sol?
The more you practise speaking and using the words in sentences, the easier it will be to talk in Spanish about your time at the beach.
“Ocean” in Spanish: 12 Spanish Words and Phrases to Help You Talk about the Sea
Let’s learn some words for the water itself. “Ocean” in Spanish is el océano, while the Spanish word for “sea” is el mar. You may say El mar esta en calma (“The ocean is calm”) during low tide, or marea baja. “Wave” in Spanish is la ola, and “high tide” would be marea alta. So – you guessed it – marea means “tide”.
How about in the water?
- Starfish: La estrella de mar
- Fish: El pez
- Jellyfish: La medusa
- Stingray: La raya
- Shark: El tiburón
- Dolphin: El delfin
- Crab: El cangrejo
Hopefully, no one shouts “El tiburón!” but it’s always nice to see a delfin close to shore or take a dolphin-watching excursion (excursión de delfines). And it’s good to know cangrejo, raya and medusa in case someone spots one in the shallow waters. Watch your step and shuffle your feet!
10 Simple Phrases for Chatting about the “Summer” in Spanish
“Summer” in Spanish is el verano. Summer vacation is vacaciones de verano. Don’t forget to hashtag your beach selfies with Vibras de verano – “summer vibes”.
- Summertime: Hora de verano
- Beach selfie: La playa autofoto
- Photos: Las fotos
- Sunny: Soleado
- Hot: Caluroso
- Tan lines: Las líneas de bronceado or Las líneas de color canela
- Sunburn or suntan: Bronceado
If you’re an off-season beachgoer, the other seasons are primavera (“spring”), otoño (“fall”) and invierno (“winter”).
12 Words and Phrases for Spanish Beach Activities
What do you like to do at the beach? Do you like to lay out and sunbathe, or swim in the water? Maybe you’re adventurous and enjoy scuba diving or parasailing.
“Sunbathe” in Spanish is tomar el sol, which literally means to “drink,” “catch” or “take in”. So, it’s the same thing as saying you want to “soak up the sun” a la Sheryl Crow.
Here are other verbs for the beach in Spanish:
- To play beach volleyball: Jugar al voleibol de arena
- To go surfing: Ir a hacer surf
- To scuba dive: A bucear
- Parasailing: Hacer veleo
- Water skiing: Hacer esquí acuático
- To fish: Pescar
- To swim: Nadar
- To play in the water (or splash around): Bañarse en el agua or Jugar en al aqua
- To snorkel: Nadar respirando por un tubo (Literally: “Swim breathing through a tube”), or a bucear
Sometimes you may even see a boda en la playa (“beach wedding”) or fiesta en la playa (“beach party”). If you’re going to one, you can say para asistir (“to attend”) or ir a una fiesta (“to go to a party”).
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly beach to take your dog for a walk (pasear un perro), be warned. Many beaches in Spain don’t allow pets. You’ll want to look for a “dog beach” in Spanish – Playa de perros or Playa amigable para perros. You can also ask someone, ¿Se admiten perros en esta playa? (“Are dogs allowed on this beach?”)
14 More Useful Spanish Beach Phrases
Besides the words you should know, there are helpful phrases, questions and idioms related to the beach, too. Like, “Let’s go to the beach” in Spanish is Vamos a la playa. And to express your beach affinity, you can say “I love the beach” in Spanish with Amo la playa. Or use Me encanta la playa.
Here are some good questions to know in Spanish for the beach:
- Can I swim here?: ¿Puedo nadar aquí?
- Is it safe to swim here?: ¿Es seguro nadar aquí?
- Is there a lifeguard on duty?: ¿Hay un salvavidas de servicio?
- What are the beach hours?: ¿Cuáles son las horas de playa?
- Do you want to go to the beach?: ¿Quieres ir a la playa?
- Can you help me put sunscreen on my back?: ¿Puedes ayudarme a ponerme protector solar en la espalda? or simply Me puede ayudar con esto
And here are some beach, sun and water-related idioms:
- To swim against the current: Nadar contra corriente
- To know where one’s best interest lie: Arrimarse al sol que más calienta (“Approaching the sun that warms the most”)
- To hesitate, to sit on the fence: Nadar entre dos aguas (“Swimming between two waters”)
- All day long: De sol a sol (“From sun to sun”)
- To have it both ways, a double standard: Nadar y guardar la ropa (“To swim and store one’s clothes”)
Ready to Soak Up Some Sun?
You’re all set for fun in the sun! You can practice while you’re there, or while longingly staring at beach pictures. We’ve all been there.
If you have kids, you can make a game out of it and include them in your Spanish language-learning, too. Kids like “I spy”, so practise describing what you see and the words around you. It’s a great way to help your kids learn Spanish.
Now, if you’re travelling to the Caribbean, you may want to learn some Caribbean Spanish words and phrases. Or if you’re travelling to the beautiful beaches of Spain, make sure you know your essential Spanish travel phrases for the rest of your trip.