Monday, February 5, 2018

Tides, Depths and Safety on the Beach - For Everyone

Visiting a beach somewhere on west or east coast of India is one of the most popular recreation of Old and young alike. The call of waves and surf, the sand and the sunshine and the music of light wind, coconut and palm trees is impossible to resist.

Add to that the fun of lounging around in the waves and water on sea beach and all the fun that one has with the sand of a beach, making castles. playing Volleyball. etc. and the combination is too much. Who does not want to enjoy all that.

However, it does pain me to read the news of some or the other person loosing his life at a chilling regularity on some or the other beach across India. When I say this, I am not referring to accidents. Accidents do happen and even the best swimmers loose their life despite having all the knowledge. What I am referring to is the common people who land up on the beach with a very naive presumption of firstly the beach is like any other play area and secondly that they know all that is needed to know.

There are many things one needs to find out even before being on the beach. There is no guaranty that despite having found out everything about a beach one will be 100 % safe (there nothing called 100% in real life) but if attempts are made to find out vital things before venturing on to a beach, the chances of being reasonably safe while enjoying everything that the beach has to offer, increase very greatly.

This blog post is an attempt to inform people of all the things that matters while going to a beach. Here is the list:-

Gradient of the beach - The continental shelf (how the depth of water increases as one gets deeper into the sea) on the west coast of India is very gradual on most of the beaches. When talking of beaches on the East coast, the situation is entirely different. The increase in depth of water for initial few meters is gradual but then the continental shelf just dips by few tens or hundreds of feet. If one is careless, after walking for few meters into the sea, that person may just find the ground beneath his feet missing. It is therefore makes sense to tread very carefully on the beaches of Visakhapattnam, Puri, Konark, etc relative to west coast beaches.

To see the depths at various places, you can see the charts (similar to maps of land areas) on the internet for west coast and east coast of India.

Tides at that Place - Tides are the periodic increase and decrease in water levels on the beaches, caused by gravitation force of moon. It is a rough cycle of about six hours. That means twice in a day High Water (Rise in water level on the beach) and twice a day Low Water (drop in water level on the beach) happens. What is important is to understand that when Low water time occurs, flooding starts. In simple terms flooding means water flows from sea towards the shore (beach) and that throws anything that is at sea towards shore. When high tide occurs, ebbing starts and the water (and every thing that is in the water on the beach) starts flowing into the sea.

I am sure some of the readers have understood the implication of Flooding (after Low tide time has happened) and ebbing (after High Tide time has passed). In any case let me explain. Whenever Flooding occurs, it is safe to venture into the water on a beach with reasonable precautions as even if you are in difficulty, you would be propelled (thrown) towards the beach. When it is Ebbing, it is reverse. If you venture in to the water on a beach, the water would try to drag into the sea and if you have gone deep, extricating (rescuing) yourself towards shore would be very tough. 

Then what should beach goers do? Go to and check the tides for the beach being visited. Here is an example for Murud on Kokan coast:-


Tuesday 6 February 20183:13 AMIST3.29 meters(10.79 ft)High Tide
7:09 AMISTSunrise
9:43 AMIST0.89 meters(2.92 ft)Low Tide
11:26 AMISTMoonset
3:56 PMIST2.79 meters(9.15 ft)High Tide
6:34 PMISTSunset
9:40 PMIST1.38 meters(4.53 ft)Low Tide

Looking at the tide table, it is safe to venture into the water on this beach between 09.43 AM and 03.56 PM, between Low tide and high tide. It is unsafe to venture into the sea after 3.56 PM to 9.40 PM, between high tide and low tide.

Shifting Sands (Bottom quality) - At many places on the beaches, the bottom is very unsafe with shifting sands. Now you stand on the firm grounds in the water and in the next minute the ground either vanishes or you get few inches under the sand. This happens because of unstable bottom.

Internal/ Circulating Currents - This phenomenon is prevalent in enclosed areas of a creek or a cove. There are internal currents and while the depth may not be much but the currents make swimming difficult and very tiring. One such place is Marve Beach at Malad (West) in Mumbai. Here, qualified deep sea divers who are generally very strong swimmers find it tough to swim across the creek. In such places, venturing in to the sea beyond keen depth should be avoided.

Seek Advise of Locals and Abide (follow) with it - Locals (or if Life Guards are there)know the sea and the beach well. Take their advice about where and when to swim on that beach. It is important for your own safety to follow their advise. If they tell you not to venture into the water, do not venture in.

This post is to add to your enjoyment while at a beach by making you aware as to what all you need to know before you step in to the water.


  1. A must read for beach-hoppers! Proper caution needs to be taken, and you’ve minced no words.

    1. Thanks aditi. Do spread around amongst your friends.

  2. Quite informative and very well penned blog . Thank you for sharing these informations it will surely keep Beach lovers enjoy more and stay safe .

    1. I wrote It keeping in mind avoidable loss of life that could be prevented. Thanks for appreciating it.

  3. Venturing into sea without proper knowledge can indeed be very dangerous. You've given exhaustive information. I remember we were warned to stay away from Ganpatipule beach, even though it was beautiful, because it wasn't safe. We obliged.

    1. You did a right thing. It must have been ebbing at thatbtime