We too can feel the excitement and exertion of swimming, which is an important life skill every Muslim should possess. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your trip to the beach (or pool) by organizing, planning ahead, and playing it smart. There are two goals, however, that we should keep in mind on a beach trip. The smaller of the two is to avoid ruining your trip with unforeseen expenses, painful sunburns, and wasted opportunities. The bigger goal is to walk away with an incredible and memorable experience that enhances and refreshes your soul, ultimately reminding you of Allah.
It is not an oxymoron. Muslims need not be held back from one of the most popular summer vacation destinations. We too can take our family and friends and crash into the waves, watch the crabs scuttle around, fill our clothes with sand and shells, swim next to dolphins, and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean. We too can feel the excitement and exertion of swimming, which is an important life skill every Muslim should possess. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your trip to the beach (or pool) by organizing, planning ahead, and playing it smart.
There are two goals, however, that we should keep in mind on a beach trip. The smaller of the two is to avoid ruining your trip with unforeseen expenses, painful sunburns, and wasted opportunities. The bigger goal is to walk away with an incredible and memorable experience that enhances and refreshes your soul, ultimately reminding you of Allah.
Below, I’ve included some advice that would be especially helpful for those who rent beach-houses as a group by the ocean, and advice for those who take day-trips to the pool.
Book Early, Avoid the Peak of Summer
The main conflict Muslim families are faced with is the unwholesome atmosphere created by immodest coverings. Many people flocked to the beach for the Independence Day weekend and other holidays; but the best time to go in order to avoid the partial nudity is late spring, early and late summer, as well as early fall. This is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the sand and waves without the crowds. This year consider a post-Ramadan celebration at the beach, when other visitors will be less inclined to worship the sun gods in their 2-pieces due to cooler weather.
Consider a Burkini
It hasn’t always been easy for Muslim women to both observe complete hijab AND enjoy the water. Lack of Islamic swimwear may even have prevented many sisters from learning to swim in the first place. Well, ladies, our excuses are over! No more wet scarves trapping water in your ears or bulges of fabric weighing you down. Burkinis are designed to repel water, cover your curves, and move easily through the water. Of course, you have the option of purchasing individual pieces like a loose exercise shirt, pants, and a long top to go underneath – but you might end up paying the same price without the benefit of a cap that won’t slip off in the water.
Convenient for all-ladies swimming or for those who rent beach-houses in secluded areas, these burkinis look good and can make you feel good. Read about praise for the burkini and then begin your search – more companies have been producing them, and they ship to various countries.
Water Increases Sun Exposure
Make sure to use sunscreen on your face, hands, wrists, and anything else that might get exposed in the water. Swimming in the pool or in the ocean is the most important time to be protected since the water reflects more light rays towards your skin, and this is the biggest potential for sun burn – ouch! Don’t be fooled by cloudy days either, because you can still get burned. Use a water resistant sun block and reapply often.
Sun Protection for Men
Brothers, consider a surf shirt to protect shoulders and modesty, and a hat for the sensitive tops of ears and back of neck. Look for these ahead of time so you can compare prices rather than succumb to the tourist price tag at the specialty beach stores.
Eat the Right Food
Don’t short-change your trip by being too drained or weak for swimming and sandcastle building. Plan healthy breakfasts and lunches that give you plenty of protein and complex carbs. Wraps with lean meat and grilled veggies would be ideal to take down and eat by the water. And especially remember to stay hydrated!
Purify Your Space
If you are renting a beach house, there are some key items you should remember to take with you that will help maintain cleanliness and avoid contamination for both health and spiritual reasons. Don’t forget to bring flip flops/sandals to walk in around the house, flip flops for the bathroom and shower, prayer rugs that can cover the entire floor if you are a big crowd, and watering cans for the bathroom.
Essentials to Bring
When renting a beach house, you don’t want to pack as though you are moving – but you do want to bring some essential items so you don’t find yourself buying everything you already have at home. With some organization and foresight you can prevent unnecessary purchases and just enjoy your trip. One idea is to make several kits and assign them to each person so that no single individual is responsible to bring everything on the list below:
First-Aid Kit: include hydrogen peroxide, sun burn relief creams or gels, ointments for cuts, bandages, and tweezers for splinters
Cooking Kit: include cooking oil, salt and pepper, spices for meals, salad dressing, and condiments
Beverage Person: don’t forget tea, sugar, coffee, hot chocolate, juices, lemonade, a cooler and (reusable) water bottles if you want to take your drinks down to the beach
Meat Person: the last thing you want to do is to go to an unfamiliar place and find that you don’t have enough burgers for everyone, especially if there are no halal meat shops nearby
Produce Person: buy sturdy staples like onions, potatoes, and apples in bulk items since more delicate fruits and veggies can be bought from local farm stands and nearby grocers
Snack/Dessert Person: best to buy in bulk for a smaller price instead of paying a lot for the only available cookies at the local grocery store
Soap Kit: buy hand soap for each bathroom, laundry and dish detergents, and sponges for washing dishes
Grill Master: include lighters, matches, charcoal, lighter fluid, aluminum foil, grill brushes, and all grilling utensils
Working as a Team
Everyone deserves to be on vacation, which means if everyone works together they can share the responsibility instead of dumping it all on the shoulders of a few. Involve the youth in meal preparations and small chores by giving them small tasks like shucking corn, washing fruits and vegetables, setting the plates, and simply cleaning up after themselves.
Switch your TV with the waves of the ocean, the scuttling of crabs, the rising of the sun, and the brighter night sky. Switch your iPod for the powerful sound of the waves crashing down. What better chance to reflect on the immense beauty of Allah’s creations? Traveling to the ocean can very well be an act of worship, as any act in our lives can be when it brings out God-consciousness. Speaking of which – don’t forget to pray on time, together!