Written by: Melissa Mooney
I’d never given much thought to beach tags until the day I didn’t have one. Every shore house I’ve ever stayed in has automatically included beach tags in the price of rent. I would simply pin one to my beach tote for the length of the season, casually flashing the bag strap to the tag checker as I passed. It wasn’t until I found myself day-tripping at an unfamiliar North Jersey beach (high treason, I know) that I realized that going to the beach costs money. As I grudgingly handed over five whole dollars to the tag checker in exchange for a heinous bright orange wrist band that immediately identified me as a shoobie, I thought to myself that there had to be another way. If I had been more resourceful, perhaps I could have avoided the fee. If you ever find yourself on a day trip to the shore, or simply don’t feel like walking the three blocks back to your house when you forget your tag, here are some helpful tips for evading the dreaded Beach Tag Checker.
Pretend your mom has your tag.
Some tag checkers are more lenient than others. If you make your best doe eyes and explain that “my mom is sitting down by the water and she brought all the tags with her can I go down and grab one from her?” a nice attendant might let you by. Pointing out a random, colorful umbrella that’s “yours” will add more credibility to your story.
Team up with a group that already has tags.
Attendants rarely have time to count out individual tags on a busy day. If you’re visiting a group of friends and you’re the only one without a tag, simply shaking a family-sized Ziploc bag full of beach tags in the checker’s face will usually get you through. There’s no way she’ll notice that there are eight people but only seven tags bouncing around in your plastic baggie.
Act like you were in the bathroom.
This one requires dedication because you can’t bring anything with you- no chair, no massive tote bag, no umbrella- because why would you bring that stuff on a quick trip to the bathroom? Go to the entrance closest to the public restroom and tell the checker your tag is already on the beach with the rest of your stuff. To make it look extra believable, attach a piece of one-ply toilet paper to the bottom of your flip flop.
Hide in the ocean/ pretend you’re asleep.
Just because you got past the attendant at the entrance doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. On busy weekends and holidays, tag checkers patrol the beach to make sure everyone has paid. If you see the telltale red fanny pack approaching and you don’t have a tag, you can do one of two things: get up and dash into the ocean, or act like you just knocked back some NyQuil and fake a deep slumber. Usually, the checkers will be too timid to wake you up.
If all else fails, unapologetically sprint past the checker and onto the beach without paying. Nine times out of ten, the attendant is a middle-aged woman in a lawn chair reading a Nora Roberts novel, so your chances of outrunning her are pretty high.