How to pass the time while sunbathing

Richard Mellor 12 March 2020

Sunbathing outdoors is the healthiest way to get a top tan (suncream included of course!)—but, oh, sitting still can be dull! Here are seven ways to distract yourself and pass the time 

Listen to a podcast... 

Just like “How did humans live before the internet?”, the mystery of what sunbathers did before podcasts” is a troubling question with no answer. Best not to think about it at all. 

Instead, consider which sort of podcasts you might enjoy, and pre-download them. A digest of the latest football or political news? Delving into life’s puzzles with Unexplained Mysteries? Some stand-up comedy? Fat Mascara? DigestEd?

Listen to a couple of these, and an hour or two will speed by. Voila! 


…or ebooks 

Ditto with audio books (and, to a lesser-distracting degree, music). Buy one or two before you go – ideally something you know you’ll find engrossing – and let the narrator help you motor through the hours. 

Plug-in earphones are the better option than their over-ear alternatives here, as they cover up less skin. Even so, be sure to move them every so often to prevent an embarrassing, wire-shaped tan line. 


Read actual books 

Obviously, physical or e-books (and excellent magazines like, say, Reader’s Digest!) can be read too—maybe the relevant Lonely Planet guide if you’re on holiday, or an addictive thriller.  

The catch here is that holding a book or tablet might block the sun, and be hard in direct light—so try to hold the book away from sunlight, or only to read when tanning on your front. 


Try to sleep 

There are two main problems with sleeping as you sun-tan. Firstly, the danger of waking up hours later to find yourself beetroot-coloured and dangerously dehydrated. You also risk, if in a public place, discovering that your bag, phone or wallet has been nicked as you napped. 

To avert the first disaster, set an alarm on your phone: anything more than hour in direct sunlight without water is risky, so limit yourself to that.  

The risk of theft is lessened if you have no valuables, or keep them close. But the back tack of all?... 


…Bring a friend 

Yes! And not only are friends useful in keeping watch while you slumber, but they also enable another excellent sunbathing pastime: chatting. Natter about this, and then about that, with someone you enjoy talking to, and minutes will whizz by. 



This may need to be done surreptitiously, as your innocent people-watching risks looking like perving to someone else.  

Try and imagine a narrative to your fellow bathers or beach-goers. Are that couple having an affair? Is that man an undercover spy? Or try to guess your neighbours’ nationality, or silently award prizes for the most – and least – stylish swimwear on display. 



Meditating is a crack means to reach the ideal zen state required for sunbathing. If you’re new to the habit, guided apps like Headspace or Buddhify are ready to provide tutelage.  

Still struggling? Try a simpler mindfulness practice. Close your eyes and just concentrate on the audible sounds and identifying them. Move on to other senses, such as smell or feel. Or gaze about and spot as many different colours as you can. 

Failing all else, do a silent gratitude list. Can you come up with 25 things that you’re thankful for? Practising gratitude is another useful life tool in general, helping with perspective and positivity, but one that’s handy too for moments of tedium. 

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