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Taking Home Sand From A Beach As A Souvenir Could Cost You

Travelers can face fines for taking sand home as a souvenir
Travelers can face fines for taking sand home as a souvenir [Image from Pixabay]
You have just spent two wonderful weeks on an idyllic beach in a foreign country and want to take something home as a souvenir. However, many travelers take sand from that beach to remind them of their vacation. While it might be just a little sand, if enough people do this, that idyllic beach will be no more. Not only that, if you are caught stealing the sand you could face a huge fine – something you really don’t want to happen at the end of your vacation.

Taking sand as a vacation souvenir

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
A beautiful, sandy beach  [Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski from Pixabay]
Besides people stealing sand from the beaches, with climate change, those beaches are under attack from extreme weather and dwindling local maintenance budgets. Moreover, besides tourists taking a souvenir, others take sand for industrial and construction purposes.

Due to this, many destinations around the world are taking action by banning the practice of stealing sand and backing this up with stiff fines for those who do so. Moreover, in some cases, there is even the threat of prison time.

While some people believe that beaches are the result of naturally replenishing sand, this is not the case. In fact, some popular beaches have been engineered to look the way they do. For instance, Blue Flag beaches on the Costa del Sol in Spain are constantly sending industrial tractors to move the sand around and make the beach look perfect, especially after a storm has moved it around.

According to a report, California may lose up to 75 percent of its sand to sea level rise and erosion by the year 2100. This only makes it sense to stop people from stealing sand as a souvenir while making it illegal.

Unique beaches that tempt people to steal

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain [Image by Peter Thomas from Pixabay]
Looking at the island of El Hierro in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands of Spain, the beaches are a unique natural wonder. The beach’s popcorn–like grains of sand are actually pieces of coral worn smooth by the waves. Meanwhile, Mother Nature takes centuries to create this unique sand from offshore coral, but should tourists steal it, it could take centuries to create and replace.

Frommers reports that by some estimates, as much as 22 pounds a year are stolen from this tiny piece of coastline. Moreover, officials of its sister island, Lanzarote say the theft is even worse, with as much as a ton of natural material going missing due to theft and erosion each year.

Tough fines for stealing from beaches

On the sand in Sardinia, Italy
On the sand in Sardinia, Italy [Image by Stephanie Albert from Pixabay]
Due to these problems, the Canary Islands are now taking action against any tourist taking even a pebble from the beaches. Should they do so, they could easily face a fine of as much as €3,000 (US$3,200) should luggage inspectors catch them in the act of taking that souvenir.

Meanwhile, Sardinia in Italy is also facing tourists stealing the island’s beautiful white sand. According to a report, in one case tourists were nabbed with the stolen sand hundreds of miles away. The tourists were caught by routine luggage inspections in France for transporting bottles filled with Sardinia sand. Now, European officers are charging fines of €3,000 (US$3,200) along with six years in prison for the theft.

Basically, travelers should be aware of the crime of stealing sand from the beaches – just don’t do it. Rather look for legal souvenirs to take home for the memories, preferably from a local craft market and not with a tag reading “Made in China.”


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