In the movies, when a couple has sex on the beach, it's always spontaneous, romantic, almost magical. But let's be real, if you try to do that, you'll likely end up with sand where it's not supposed to be—and not much else. That doesn't mean you can't have beach sex, it just means you need to prepare before you take the plunge.

"The most important thing is to plan in advance," says Janet Brito, PhD, a sexologist and clinical psychologist in Honolulu (so you know she knows her beaches). She even suggests running through a few "what if" scenarios—like "what if it starts raining?"—to make sure you've covered all your bases. That might sound like work (the opposite of what sex is supposed to be), but think of it like planning a mini-vacation. You're giving yourself and your partner something to look forward to, which can only help up the ante when the moment finally comes.

It’s understandable why so many people are into the idea of having sex on the beach, says sex therapist Emily Jamea, PhD. “You’re out in nature, and it’s a peaceful environment that can evoke feelings of relaxation,” she says. “You just want to go into it with realistic expectations.”

When it comes to actually getting freaky on the beach, it’s important to “expand your definitions of sex,” says sexologist and relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly, PhD. “Anything erotic and pleasurable can be sexual, so don’t get hung up on one type of sex.” She recommends that you “tease, talk dirty, kiss, caress, massage, and use your hands, mouths, and other body parts to explore for pleasure.”

These expert-approved tips will help ensure having sex on the beach is actually fun:

1. Make sure it's legal.

Nothing kills the ~vibe~ faster than getting arrested (real handcuffs are way less sexy than furry ones, after all). So before you have your romp in the hay sand, "make sure you understand the laws around having sex in a public area," Brito says. Yes, having sex in a semi-forbidden place is a big part of what makes it so hot, but it’s not worth getting a criminal record.

2. Find a private and secluded beach.

This might seem obvious, but just in case you thought about banging out a quickie on a popular beach—don’t. "The more isolated, the better, so you can really let loose and avoid someone walking by," Brito says. Depending on your locale, you might have to wait until nightfall for the beach to clear out, but hey, there's nothing better than making love in the moonlight, right?

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3. Come prepared.

You want to be spontaneous, sure, but you also don’t want to get sand (or anything else) in your vagina. To increase your level of comfort and decrease friction burns, Brito recommends putting together a little sex on the beach kit that includes:

While it isn’t necessary to bring lube, if you know that makes sex more enjoyable for you, pack it. Don’t substitute sunscreen for lube, either, since that can cause infection or disintegrate latex condoms, according to Brito.

4. Wear something that is easy to take off.

You want to choose an outfit that's sexy, sure, but you also want it to be functional because, duh. Brito recommends a sarong or stretchy shorts. (To prevent insect bites, you should also consider wearing some bug repellent, too.)

Want more hot AF sex tips? Ask these grandmas:

preview for Grandmas Sex Lives | Ask A Grandma

5. Choose your beach sex spot wisely.

Look for an area that’s clear of debris and relatively level. Oh, and make sure you’re far enough away from the ocean so, you know, the tide won’t roll in unexpectedly.

6. Level off the sand before you settle in.

Speaking of leveling, sand is lumpy, and that doesn’t exactly make for a good, flat sex surface. “Level the sand area,” advises sex therapist Debra Laino, DHS. “There’s nothing worse than the bumps and lumps on the sand while having sex.” You can use your feet or a shovel to try to flatten the surface a little before you put your blanket or chair down. (Maybe take a pass on using your hands, since you don’t want to get them sandy pre-nooky.)

7. Set the scene.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, Brito suggests keeping your socks and covered shoes on until you’re sitting on your sand-proof blanket. "This way you won’t bring sand into your designated area, like you would with sandals," she explains. Once you're settled in, just chill for a sec, taking in the scenery and each other.

8. Make time for foreplay.

Just because you’re having beach sex doesn’t mean you have to settle for a quickie. Instead, Brito suggests covering yourself and your sexual partner with a compact towel and exploring each other’s bodies. If dirty talk is your thing, work that in, too. Whatever you’re into, "let your imagination roll and your hands wander."

In fact, Brito actually recommends outercourse over intercourse on the beach. "You can definitely enjoy manual or oral sex under a blanket and have loads of pleasurable fun without calling much attention to yourself," she says.

9. Get into position.

Not all beach sex positions are created equal (sorry but it’s true). To avoid getting sand in unwanted places, Brito recommends "positions where your genitals are the farthest away from the sand, like doggy style."

That’s not exactly the best position for avoiding attention, though, so you might also want to try the napping sex position, she says. It’s pretty simple: "Get in a spooning position, like you are getting ready to take a nap, and then rock back and forth, until you find the rhythm that works best for both of you."

If you brought a beach chair (points for preparedness), you can also try Cowgirl, either facing your partner or facing away. Whatever position you choose, use the compact towel to cover yourself.

10. If someone walks by, don’t panic.

This is when that compact towel really comes in handy. Once you notice someone approaching, make sure you’re covered, and act as casual as you can, considering the, uh, situation. "If you’re having oral sex, then stop, and rest your head on your partner’s belly or thighs instead," Brito suggests. "If you’re having intercourse, then stop thrusting, and cuddle instead." No one will be the wiser…

11. Stop immediately if you get sand in your genitals.

You’ve taken enough precautions that this **shouldn’t** happen, but if it does, don’t worry. Just stop the second you’re uncomfortable and rinse off in the water. (I mean, that's literally what it's there for...)

12. Cool off when you’re done.

Now that you’ve gotten all hot and heavy, nothing feels better than a quick dip in the ocean, says Brito. Just make sure the surf isn’t too rough before going in, and use your dry towel to clean up, she says. If it’s not safe to cool off in the ocean, you can also take a cool shower together back home.

Once you're done, well, you might like the way your partner's skin glistens from the water so much that you decide to go for round two...

Best Positions For Sex On The Beach:

Not all positions are created equal—especially when it comes to having sex on the beach, which comes with a general lack of back support and a very real risk of getting sand in places you don't want. “There are better positions for sex on the beach,” says Laino.

  • Face-Off
face off
Emily Schiff-Slater

Do It: Have your partner sit on a beach chair or towel and sit facing them on their lap.

Why: You can control the depth and rhythm in this position and—bonus—it keeps the sand away from your privates, Jamea says. You can also get more privacy while wearing a long dress or towel wrapped over you.

  • Missionary
Emily Schiff-Slater

Do It: You probably know the deal, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate…Lie on your back while your partner lies facedown on top of you.

Why: This sex position is simple, elegant, effective, and surprisingly versatile. “It can be a very romantic position,” Jamea says. “You can also have full eye contact and hold each other.”

  • The Caboose
Emily Schiff-Slater

Do It: While they sit on the bed or a chair, back yourself into their lap.

Why: You’re up high, away from the abrasive sand, and it looks like you’re just sitting in your partner’s lap—which you technically are… “Pack a foldable beach chair so that you’re not in the thick of the sand and you can play with multiple angles,” O’Reilly advises.

  • Scoop Me Up
scoop me up
Emily Schiff-Slater

Do It: This is basically spooning. Both of you lie on your sides, facing the same direction. You bring your knees up slightly while your partner slides up behind your pelvis and enters you from behind.

Why: You have good skin-to-skin contact, and it’s easy to hide under a blanket. Plus, it looks like you’re cuddling. “The spooning position is definitely more discrete,” Jamea says.

  • Doggy Style
doggy style
Emily Schiff-Slater

Do It: Get on all fours, then have your partner kneel behind you, thrusting into you.

Why: Save this one for a total deserted island kind of situation, since it’s not easy to hide what you’re doing. Still, it’s great for minimizing friction. “Your body is off the ground, so no sand will enter,” Laino points out.

Headshot of Lindsay Geller
Lindsay Geller
Lifestyle Director

Lindsay Geller is the Lifestyle Director at Women’s Health, where she oversees the Life, Sex & Love, and Relationships sections on and the Mind section of Women's Health magazine. When she's not writing or editing articles about the latest dating trends and pop culture phenomenons, she's usually watching reality TV or playing with her dog, Lucille (Go Fetch That) Ball.

Headshot of Korin Miller
Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives by the beach, and hopes to own a teacup pig and taco truck one day.