HEALTHPLAN MAGAZINE

Fines And Penalties On Spanish Beaches Expat Tips

Whether you live here in Spain full-time or are on your holidays, there is a very good chance that you will want to visit many of the beautiful beaches that we have on offer.

The wonderful year-round weather here means that beach usage is not restricted only to the summer months; many of us get to use the beach out of season also.

But did you know that there are many things that you cannot do on the beach by law and if you are caught, you could face a hefty fine of up to €3,000? This especially applies during the current COVID-19 measures. (See further below)

That's right, even things that may appear to be innocuous and totally innocent could put you on the wrong side of the local police and leave you seriously "out of pocket".

It's important to understand that the beaches in Spain are maintained by the individual municipalities, which means that they can regulate the use of the beaches and form their own bylaws, which run alongside the main coastal law in Spain, Ley de Costas 22/1988.

Regional authorities recently produced a list of some of the things in certain localities, which done at the wrong time and place could land you with a big fine.

Below are some examples of local laws that are currently in place up and down the country.

Washing with soap and shampoo at beach showers is illegal at all Spanish beaches. In certain regions such as Malaga, Benidorm and Valencia this also applies to washing with soap in the sea. The fine for this would be somewhere in the region of €750.

For those who like to drink to excess and then sleep it off on the beach, think again. In many regions, spending the night sleeping on the beach or camping on the beach is completely forbidden and in areas such as Valencia could result in a fine of up to €1,500.

Nudism is a popular pastime for many, but do this on the majority of non-nudist beaches and you may end up with a fine of up to €750.

If you head East to Chipiona, Cadiz and decide to spend some time on the beach you will want to pay extra attention as there are a number of things that could end in a fine of up to €300. These include throwing cigarette butts, leaving sunflower and other nut shells and litter on the beach and also the use of loud sound equipment and musical instruments. More serious offences can result in fines of up to €900.

On certain beaches playing with a bat and ball and other sporting equipment is only permissible in designated areas. While in Malaga it is only acceptable if done at a distance of six metres or more from other beach-goers. Don't forget your tape measure!

Barbecuing on the beach is another grey area. In most cases, police authorisation must be sought before lighting up. In some areas such as Salobrena, fines of up to €3,000 can be imposed for those who do not follow the rules. Ouch!

For those who smoke or wish to have an alcoholic beverage on the beach, you should also take note. Some local councils only allow smoking and the consumption of alcohol in certain designated areas.

Cigarette smoke and butts can be a real menace for non-smokers and children building sandcastles. Cigarette butts contain thousands of toxic substances and contain plastics making them harmful to our environment and marine life.

A number of regions in the country have already adopted the measures creating smoke-free beaches and zones including Galicia, Murcia, Catalonia, Andalusia, Asturias, the Canary Islands and the Balearics with other regions of the country soon to follow suit.

And as for sex on the beach (not the cocktail), this is also illegal!

In Benidorm and no doubt other regions, there are time restrictions, which means you are not allowed to swim in the sea or use the beach between 11 pm and 7 am. This is generally imposed for safety reasons and to allow for the cleanup of the beach.

Many of us like to take our dogs for some exercise on the beach and although this is fine in a number of areas, there are still a large number of beaches where this is not permitted. Some beaches allow domestic animals on the beach only at certain times for example before 8 am and after 9 pm. Note that guide dogs are permitted on all Spanish beaches.

This is just an example of some of the restrictions that may be in place on a beach you regularly frequent or are planning on visiting while holidaying here. Many beaches will have their rules and regulations clearly indicated along the beach, but if in any doubt, check with your local council first.

Rules and Regulations During Lifting of COVID-19 Lockdown

As the COVID-19 lockdown is slowly lifted and we all learn to live with the 'new normal', Spain's coastal towns have started to introduce new rules on responsible beach usage during this time.

With the country’s tourism industry currently on hold, the rules and regulations will apply to locals only, however, from July, the rules will also apply to tourists visiting the country.

Below covers many of the possible regulations you may encounter, and with fines of between €200 and €3,000, it is well worth adhering to them otherwise a trip to the beach could potentially be very expensive.

The different regions of the country may have slightly different rules, so make sure you pay attention to any informational signs at the beach you are visiting.

It’s unclear at this time how long the measures will last, but it’s expected that they will last at least until the State of Alarm has been fully lifted.

These are some of the most common rules you may across on your trip to the beach here in Spain.

  • Stay home if you have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Keep 2.5 metres apart - All beachgoers must maintain social distancing and keep 2.5 metres between themselves and others.
  • Towels and parasols - Towels and parasols must be kept 2.5 metres away from other beachgoers. They must also be placed at least six metres from the sea to allow people to walk along the beach, maintaining a two-metre distance.
  • Maximum of two parasols allowed per family.
  • Personal hygiene - This must be adopted at all times. Beachgoers should shower before and after going to the beach and make sure all personal belongings are also clean. Make sure hands are clean and avoid touching your eyes and mouth.
  • The correct footwear must be worn when using communal facilities such as toilets.
  • Group Sports - Popular beach sports such as volleyball, football and beach tennis are not permitted. Use of lilo’s and other water toys are also banned.
  • Under 14’s - Must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • Swimming may be restricted in certain areas.
  • Fishing is prohibited from both the beach and from boats into swimming areas.
  • Nude bathing is not allowed under the new regulations.
  • Beach users are advised to spend a maximum of four hours on the beach either in the morning or afternoon to avoid overcrowding.
  • Make sure you bag up your rubbish and dispose of it in one of the beach or public bins.
  • No animals will be permitted on the beach.
  • BBQ’s and gatherings are not allowed.
  • No smoking on the beach.
  • The selling of goods on the beach is prohibited.
  • Lifeguards and beach patrol personnel must be obeyed at all times.
  • Bars and chiringuitos will be closed until the end of June.
  • Sorry kids no sandcastles are allowed.

The new regulations are there to protect all of us and prevent further spread of COVID-19.

If you are going to the beach, make sure you have a great time, stay safe and be aware of any regulations so you can avoid being hit with a large fine.

Have you been fined on a Spanish beach? If so, please join our community on Facebook and share your experience.

You may want to also read one of our recent posts - Are These The 12 Best Beaches In Spain?