10 Terms Every Beach Lover Should Know

Beaches can be smooth and sandy or rough and pebbly. They can be rocky. They can be perfect. We all like the waves crashing onto the sand, snaking rivulets of water onto the quiet sand, sun-bleached sand crystals burning the feet. Some beaches have man-made infrastructures, such as lifeguard posts, changing rooms, showers, shacks, and bars.

What are the first thoughts coming in our mind when we can the word ‘beach’?

Most people throw out things like the ocean, saltwater, palm trees, seashells, a cocktail or two. These are all great ways to describe the beach, but there are other important terms that all beach lovers should know.

Knowing this vocabulary is very useful, especially for fun times in the summer!

Here we put together ten of these terms for you to know and use on your next trip.


The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Flotsam refers to a sunken vessel whose goods float to the surface of the sea that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result of a shipwreck or accident.


Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison. Jetsam designates any cargo that is intentionally discarded from a ship or wreckage by a crew of a ship in distress.

High Tide

Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces and the rotation of the Earth. For example, the high tide at Norfolk, Virginia, U.S., predictably occurs approximately two and a half hours before the Moon passes directly overhead.


That part of a beach that is exposed by the low tides and submerged by high tides. This area can include many different types of habitats, including steep rocky cliffs or vast mudflats.

Lagoon Beach term
Photo: Mwchalmers / Wikipedia


Lagoons are separated from larger bodies of water by sandbars, coral reefs, barrier reefs or other natural barriers. Many lagoons do not include “lagoon” in their common names.


It is an elongated lagoon separated from the sea by a narrow barrier and situated at the mouth of large rivers that are usually braided.


A sandbar is a ridge of sand built up by currents especially in a river or in coastal waters.


A beachcomber is a person who spends their time wandering along beaches looking for things they can use.


The backshore area of a beach extends from the limit of high water foam lines to dunes or extreme inland limit of the beach. The backshore is only exposed to waves under extreme events with high tide and storm surge.

Sand Dune

A sand dune is a hill or ridge of sand that lies behind the part of the beach affected by tides. They are formed over many years when windblown sand is trapped by beach grass or other stationary objects. They protect inland areas from storm surges, hurricanes, flood-water, and wind and wave action that can damage property.

As development increases and global sea-level rise continues to accelerate, it is essential to ensure that people are effective at preserving and protecting environments including beaches.

It is important that we remember that we have to protect the natural environment of other species and have a more sustainable life. Whether in the water or on the shoreline, we are entering into the home of animals.

When you are headed to the beach, bring a large reusable glass, stainless steel bottle or mug to enjoy beverages out and pack a waste-free lunch and snacks by using reusable containers.

For more ideas, info and travel destinations, see Destinations You Should Visit.