Spanish at the Beach

Vocabulary for Travelers

aerial view of Cancun beach

Ricardo Diaz/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

What's your idea of the perfect vacation? For many people, it's spending days on the beach, listening to the waves pounding on the sand. And if you're a beach lover, sooner or later you'll find yourself where Spanish is spoken. Before you head out, here is some vocabulary you can become acquainted with. ¡Buen viaje!

  • la arena — sand
  • la bahía — bay
  • el balnerario — spa, resort
  • el bañador — swimsuit, swimming trunks
  • el bikini, el biquini — bikini
  • el bloque del sol, el bronceador — sunscreen, suntan lotion
  • el buceo, bucear — diving, to dive
  • el bungalow — bungalow
  • el cayo — key (island)
  • el esnorquel, el esnorkel, buceo con tubo de respiración — snorkeling
  • la isla — island
  • el lago — lake
  • nadar — to swim
  • el océano — ocean
  • la ola — wave
  • la palapa — beachside building with a grass roof
  • la piscina — swimming pool
  • la playa — beach
  • el puerto — port
  • la puesta de sol — sunset
  • la sombrilla — beach umbrella
  • el surf, hacer surf — surfing, to surf
  • el traje de baño — swimsuit
  • la vista al mar — sea or ocean view

Vocabulary Notes

Hacer + sustantivo: It is fairly common in Spanish when importing words to use the construction hacer followed by a noun for the verb form. For example, Spanish has imported the word surf as the general word for "surfing." To make the verb form, use hacer surf, literally "to do surfing." Another common use of this construction can be found frequently on Web pages, where haga clic aquí is used for "click here."

Nadar: This verb is used in a number of idiomatic phrases. One of the colorful ones is nadar y guardar la ropa, literally "to swim and keep one's clothing," translated as "to have it both ways" or "to have one's cake and eat it too." Other common phrases are nadar entre dos aguas, "to sit on the fence," and nadar contra corriente, "to swim against the current."

Wave: When speaking of a wave in the ocean or another body of water, the word ola is used. But when speaking of a wave in hair or in the physics sense, the word onda is used. Thus a microwave oven is un horno de microondas. There is no specific verb for "to wave" as in waving a hand; common phrases are saludar con la mano for a simple wave of the hand or despedirse de alguién con la mano for waving goodbye.

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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Spanish at the Beach." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Erichsen, Gerald. (2023, April 5). Spanish at the Beach. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Spanish at the Beach." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).