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Spanish at the Beach

Vocabulary for Travelers

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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 somewhere 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 buceo, bucear — diving, to dive
el bungalow — bungalow
el bikini, el biquini — bikini
el bloque del sol, el bronceador — sunscreen, suntan lotion
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 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 other 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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