Lonely Planet Writer

Spanish authorities cracking down on people saving beach spots with umbrellas

Spanish authorities are cracking down on people who reserve space on beaches with umbrellas – by imposing fines of up to a whopping €720.

Crowded beach in Spain.
Crowded beach in Spain.

Beachgoers reserving prime spots early in the morning with parasols, sun loungers or tables and chairs, then disappearing for hours, is said to have become an increasing problem in Spain’s resorts. Locals and tourists have filed more and more complaints, and local authorities are waging war on the culprits by passing new laws. Gandia, near Valencia, is one of the latest towns to declare that enough is enough. “We’ve decided to go one step further and have local police remove these objects, which are turning a public space into a private space in the earliest hours of the morning,” councillor José Manuel Prieto told El País. Hogging public space is not the only problem, though – some people are staking out their spot so early that the umbrellas get in the way of the machines that clean the sand first thing in the morning.

The crackdown is said to have been a big success so far in Gandia. Word of mouth has resulted in numbers of unattended umbrellas reducing dramatically, before authorities have had to remove any umbrellas or impose any fines – which can be as high as €720. Not every part of Spain has welcomed such regulations, though. In Torrox, Andalucía, where it costs €30 to recover a confiscated umbrella, authorities have struggled to gain local support for the policy. Local policeman Pablo Escobar said, “The last time we enforced the rule, there were people yelling insults at police from the balconies.”

Other places have been less affected by the problem. In Mallorca, where tourists generally rent sun loungers from hotels, it is unlikely that similar measures will need to be enforced. Similar events have recently unfolded in Italy, where the coast guard has started a crackdown on tourists leaving their belongings on beaches overnight.