Tips for Muslim Families: Going to the Beach

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When I was a kid my parents barely took us to the beach, even though we lived 15-20 minutes away from it.  When we did go there, it was to quickly dip our toes in the water right around sunset before it closed.  That was when they would know for sure the majority of the people had gone and we would have it to ourselves.

My husband, on the other hand, went to plenty of water parks, beaches, and lakes as a kid.  After learning how to swim, his mom was very proactive to find ways for him and his sisters to enjoy the very places my parents felt were inappropriate for Muslim families.  After we got married, he showed me how we can go to all these places, have fun, and not worry about seeing things we shouldn’t be seeing.

Here are some tips for taking advantage of the beach and other summer water activities.

  1. Timing.  The time of day you go can make a huge difference.  I usually check the schedule to see what the opening and closing hours are.  You are most likely to have the beach or a section of it to yourself right at opening time (which for beaches is sunrise usually) and you can stay until 10-11 a.m.  I have also found in some cases that an hour or two before the beach closes is pretty good.  Most people tend to be heading out for dinner or the drive home while you are heading in.
  2. Modest Swimwear.  It’s truly amazing to see how far we have come as Muslims.  We have options now for fitness clothing for the Muslim woman, sport hijabs, and even swimwear.  Take advantage of it.  I know it can be a tad bit intimidating and can leave some staring but wear it with confidence and pride.  Most of the time, it’s all in your head.  There are plenty of choices.  Try out different brands and styles until you find one that suits you.  One of my favorites has been Ahiida Burqini.  If you would like a detailed review on some of the modest swimwear I have tried, please comment below and I will do a future post.
  3. Avoid Popular/Crowded Places.  Growing up, we lived near a very popular beach that was close to the city and packed during the day.  But if you drove an extra 20-30 minutes, you would get to beaches that are pretty private and less visited (and most of the time cleaner!).  Yes, it is a little more inconvenient in terms of time, but it will be worth it!  Also, if you’re planning a getaway, there are options for islands and resorts that offer private/semi-private beach access for a reasonable cost.  With a little research and planning ahead, you can most definitely find a good option.
  4. Season.  DH and I discovered that if you plan trips far in advance and choose the right season you can enjoy vacations to tropical areas with white sands and clear waters.  We look up the start and end of the peak and off peak seasons for the places we want to visit.  We also look up weather patterns.  And then we book our trips for either the very beginning of the recommended dates to visit or the very end.  We do our best to avoid going when we know everyone else is on holiday.  So far we have been able to go to many places and enjoy water activities without being in too many awkward situations.

Comment below if you have any other recommendations!

Sand Castles on the Beach

Summer has just begun back home, but here (in the UAE) it is getting to the point where you cannot go out except for the few necessary minutes it takes to get in/out of the car and your destination.  However, we took full advantage of the beautiful weather last month.

Little Duck and I have been very lucky to join my husband on his weekly business trips lately.  The hotel he is staying in has an attached resort which is perfect for the both of us.  While DH is usually not able to join us, he is content knowing we are making use of the facilities and enjoying our time.

I know nature walks are incredibly important but sometimes I focus on other indoor activities, and I forget how much more hands on going outside can be.  Our trip to the beach was filled with learning opportunities and so we ended up going every day of the week, a lot more than I was expecting.

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The first day was spent walking along the shore and collecting sea shells.  Little Duck loved this.  She would spot one, say the word in Arabic, sadaf (seashell), go down to get it (sometimes getting splashed in the face), clean it off, and put it in our bucket to take back.  When we went to rest on the beach bed, she examined each one closely, touched each side, and constantly repeated her new word.  I can’t wait to put them in a jar for us to reflect back on later and for her to continue exploring.

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The next day, we spent more time talking about the things around us at the beach.  She picked up so many words in Arabic such as bahr (beach/ocean), mayy (water), shams (sun), sama’ (sky), raml (sand), etc.  We were able to spot a couple of birds that came down to drink from the ocean which really excited her.

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The next couple of days, she spent more time getting comfortable in the water.  A couple of months ago, I took her to the beach and she would not leave my arms nor let the water get anywhere near her.  She was absolutely terrified.  These couple of days, I have watched her easily walk up to chest level in the water.  Her confidence was building so much that she refused to hold my hand.  She was putting her face in the water, sitting, and just loving every minute of it.  I was having to force her out which was such a change from her previous attitude!

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One of my favorite activities was building a sand castle on the beach.  I bought a bucket filled with different sand castle/beach toys for kids back in the winter while I was still in the states (which now I am so happy I did)!  My daughter would fill up the buckets with sand using her little scoop and my job was to flip them over and gently lift the molds to create our various structures.  I loved watching her concentrate so seriously on her task and keep an eye on me to make sure I did not ruin our castle (haha).  She was focused and determined throughout.

Our days at the beach turned out to be excellent for building vocabulary, sensory play, discovery, fine motor skills, etc.  We created some amazing memories that I cannot wait to share with her when she is older.  With baby number two coming next month, it really was an excellent way for us to spend time together and bond.

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