The regional government is looking into banning smoking on Andalucía's many beaches, a measure which has already been approved in other parts of Spain.
But in reality, many of beachgoers' more common habits on the Costa del Sol are already banned under municipal bylaws that regulate the use of these important public spaces.
Although the majority of town halls will turn a blind eye to some things , these particular offences can carry fines of up to four digits in the most serious cases, such as lighting a fire on the beach without permission.
In summer, when the beaches fill up, it's a good idea to brush up on local regulations to avoid hefty fines or to report disturbing behaviour. Here are some of the most commonly prohibited practices on our coastline.
Using shampoo or gel in the showers
The showers are there to get rid of sand and salty residue, yet a lot of people use these facilities as their own showers and even take soaps, gels and shampoos. Malaga city expressly forbids this practice, which can carry a fine, and also specifically does not allow the washing of cooking equipment or the use of detergents in the showers. This is a serious infraction and carries a fine of up to 3,000 euros.
Listening to music without earphones
Not everyone wants to listen to the latest chart music. It is prohibited at the beach to connect music to a speaker, radio or mobile.
Games and racquets
In general, the use of racquets and balls is allowed, but only under the condition that it is not annoying other bathers. In Malaga city, players have to stay at least six metres away from others. Torremolinos specifies that these games cannot "disturb the peace" of bathers or those relaxing on the sand. Rincón de la Victoria sets aside a zone for these activities. Marbella makes reference to sports such as surfing, bodyboarding or paddlesurfing, which also cannot be done near other bathers.
If you feel you need to go to the bathroom, look for the nearest 'chiringuito' beach bar. As well as being disrespectful to other bathers, urinating and defecating on the beach constitutes a serious offence. In Malaga city there is a fine of up to 300 euros.
The rules also cover campsites on the beach, the building of fires , especially at 'moragas' (evening beach parties), except with permission, as usually requested at San Juan. It is also forbidden to use cannisters or flammable liquids. Lighting a fire can be punished with a fine of up to 3,000 euros and is considered a serious infraction. The use of grills to cook is also not allowed.
Not using the rubbish bins provided
It is perhaps the most obvious infraction, yet, probably, the most common habit of all. Taking care of public spaces is the responsibility of everyone, but every day the beaches are full of bottles, food remains, ice-cream wrappers and containers. On the majority of beaches in the province it is considered a mild infraction, but the constant recurrence of rubbish being discarded on the beach increases the severity of the problem; it is better for everyone to look for a nearby bin.
More and more municipalities, such as Fuengirola, Benalmádena, Casares or Torre del Mar, are setting up beaches for pets, but the presence of animals continues to be forbidden on most of the Costa del Sol. The municipal bylaws do allow, however, guide dogs accompanied by a blind or visually impaired person.
The classic strategy of going out at the earliest opportunity in the morning and putting out umbrellas and sunbeds to reserve spaces is not allowed by various town halls, such as Torrox or Benalmádena. In some cases, the Local Police monitor the coast and remove beach items meant for reserving spaces.
Malaga banned fishing on the shore and submarine fishing during bathing hours, from ten in the morning until nine at night, some years ago., although shellfish catchers have permission to catch clams from five in the morning until midday.
Going in the sea when the red flag is flying
Fining bathers who go into the sea when the red flag is up is one of the historic demands from lifeguards, who are the ones put in danger when this situation occurs.
Each summer, the increase in the number of rescues opens the debate about the possibility of town halls sanctioning those who disobey these rules. The regulations that govern the municipal beaches such as Estepona or Rincón de la Victoria already consider fines, varying from 300 euros to 3,000 euros for those that ignore the orders of lifeguards.