Annual Harris Interactive study of beach habits examines global opinions about sharks, bikini briefs, nudity, theft, sunscreen, attire and much more


Bellevue, Wash., July 17, 2013 –®, the world’s leading online travel company, today released the results of the 2013 Flip Flop Report, an annual study of behavior and preferences among beachgoers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. 8,606 consumers who had either taken a beach vacation in the past year or plan to do so in the next year participated in the 2013 study across 21 countries. Harris Interactive, conducting the study online on Expedia’s behalf, asked global consumers to opine on a wide range of beach-related questions, such as comfort with nudity, fear of sharks and tolerance of bathing suits such as a Speedo.


Nearly half of all respondents worldwide (46%) took a beach vacation in the past twelve months, and two thirds (64%) indicate that they are either “very or somewhat likely” to take a beach vacation in the next year. More information on the 2013 Flip Flop Report, including a downloadable infographic, photos and countless beach deals, can be found at


“We study the beach behavior across continents because it makes us smarter – if we know up front that American beachgoers love last-minute package deals to Mexico, we can deliver the best pricing, programs and offers at the top hotels to match,” said John Morrey, vice president and general manager,  “It’s also frankly a lot of fun to dig into this data and we promise not to make any judgments. Our job is to make sure that no matter what your beach preference, you can find your perfect beach vacation at This week Expedia announced our annual Insiders’ Select™ best hotels list. There’s never been a better time to plan the perfect beach vacation.”


Among those who have taken a beach vacation or are likely to take a beach vacation in the next 12 months, the beach, unsurprisingly, remains the top vacation type, outranking “historical/cultural sightseeing”, “visits with friends/family”, “theme parks”, “skiing”, “adventure sports”, “spectator events” and “casino/gambling trips.” Nearly one third (31%) of Americans prefer the beach, while 28% prefer historical/cultural sightseeing and 17% prefer seeing friends and family. The French, Spanish, Dutch, Australians, Japanese and Singaporeans elevate cultural sightseeing above the beach, while New Zealanders were the lone nation to view visits with friends and family as the #1 vacation type.


European beachgoers were the most permissive with regard to toplessness on the beach. On the whole, across all countries:


  • Just under one quarter (23%) of beachgoers reported being “very or somewhat comfortable” with topless beaches;
  • 29% described themselves as “neutral”; and
  • 27% report feeling “somewhat or very uncomfortable” in that environment.


Countries with the highest percentage of beachgoers least comfortable with toplessness at the beach (somewhat/very) were: India (41%), South Korea (40%), Malaysia (39%), Singapore (39%)and Japan (36%). Both Americans and Canadians were more comfortable with topless beaches than residents of Japan and Malaysia, but less comfortable than some European countries (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Denmark).


  • 25% of Americans and 30% of Canadians describe themselves as “comfortable”;
  • 24% of Americans and 29% of Canadians feel “neutral”; while
  • 27% of Americans and 25% of Canadians are “uncomfortable.”


Worldwide, 33% of beachgoers “would never” go topless or nude at the beach. 15% were less absolute, noting that they have “neither” gone topless nor nude, while 25% hinted that such behavior was at least possible by saying they had “not yet” gone topless or nude.


Germany Takes Topless Honors

In last year’s Flip Flop Report, German beachgoers led the world in one aspect of beach brazenness; a full 15% of Germans reported having sunbathed naked on a public beach. In 2013, Germany still ranked high in nudity, with a full 17% (the highest percentage) having gone naked at the beach.


While 73% of French beachgoers reported being “somewhat or very comfortable” with topless beaches, they were also among the least likely Europeans to engage in the behavior personally, with a full 42% of French beachgoers saying that they would “never” go topless or nude.


Roughly 5% of American beachgoers reported having gone nude at the beach. Canadian beachgoers, at 15%, are about twice as likely as their American counterparts (8%) to have ever sunbathed topless.


Theft More Worrisome Than Sharks and Speedos

Theft was the most prevalent concern for global beachgoers. Among American fears:


  • 54% of American beachgoers cited “having wallet/possessions stolen” as their chief beach fear;
  • 16% of American beachgoers reported worrying most about drowning/rip currents;
  • 16% worried most about sharks; and
  • Jellyfish stings were the top worry for 10% of American beachgoers.


Malaysia (42%) is the only country where more residents rank drowning as their top fear.


85% of Singaporean beachgoers reported a fear of sharks, with 41% refusing to swim as a result. 40% of American beachgoers reported fearing sharks but only 7% indicated that they avoid the water because of them. A strong majority of beachgoers in Denmark (71%) reported they had “no concern” about sharks.


Drinking, Cost, Weather, People-Watching, Swimming, Sunbathing and Walking

About half or more of beachgoers in Canada, UK, Ireland, India, Australia, US, New Zealand and South Korea described accessibility to alcohol as “at least somewhat” important when considering where to take a beach vacation. Worldwide, the two most important (“critically important” or “very important”) criteria when choosing a beach destination were “total cost of vacation” (70%) and “weather predictability” (51%).


Walks on the beach were the most popular activity for American beachgoers (78% participate), followed by “people-watching” (64%), swimming (61%) and sunbathing (56%).Looking at popular beach activities among countries’ beachgoers:


  • Beachgoers in India (52%) reported participating the most in making sanding castles than those in any other country except Mexico (47%)
  • Norway (74%), Ireland (73%) and the UK (71%) are among the countries where more than 70% of beachgoers sunbathe;  
  • Malaysians (23%) and Singaporeans (32%) are the least likely sunbathers
  • 90% of German beachgoers reported swimming at the beach, the highest percentage worldwide;
  • When not swimming, the next activity that German beachgoers participate in on the beach is reading (74%)
  • Indian beachgoers – who overall led the most active beach lives –played the most water sports (52%), got the most massages (47%) and surfed the most (41%).


The Speedo-style suit proved a globally approved beachwear option. Overall, 65% of beachgoers worldwide reported finding bathing suits like the Speedo to be “acceptable.”


  • This figure was highest in France ( 91%) and Italy (87%)Japanese (29%) and Norwegian (34%) beachgoers were the least accepting of a bathing suit such as Speedo ; and
  • U.S. beachgoers were split – 52% considered a bathing suit such as the Speedo acceptable beach wear and 48% did not.


Word of Mouth and Traveler Reviews Top Beach Booking Drivers Globally

Most respondents (60%) reported that they typically book their beach vacations online. 77% of American beachgoers reported doing so. Globally, personal recommendations/word of mouth (55%) and traveler reviews (42%) were the most influential sources for consumers when planning a beach vacation. Last-minute package deals were cited by 58% of Malaysian beachgoers and 57% of their Mexican counterparts as a top driver.


Beyond traditional beach activities, respondents also cited the local cuisine (76%), historical sightseeing (72%) and shopping (62%) as top vacation activities.  Of lesser interest were nightlife/dancing (43%) and golf (9%).


  • Singaporean beachgoers (78%) emerge as the world’s top shoppers, narrowly edging out beachgoers in India (76%), Malaysia (73%), Australia (73%), US (72%) and Norway (70%);
  • Malaysian (91%), South Korean (89%) and Norwegian (88%) beachgoers were most likely to enjoy local cuisine;
  • Canadian beachgoers displayed the strongest interest in adding golf to a beach vacation compared to most countries


When asked to choose between all-inclusive resorts, vacation houses, name-brand hotel chains, condos, eco-friendly hotels and boutique hotels, all-inclusives were the most popular beach accommodation globally. 36% of American beachgoers preferred all-inclusive resorts, while 21% preferred vacation houses. Only 6% of American beachgoers identified eco-friendly hotels as their preferred beach accommodation, versus 13% of Spanish respondents and a full 28% of Indian beachgoers.


When looking for a great hotel getaway for your next beach vacation and beyond, Expedia’s best-rated hotels are a great place to start. Expedia this week is announcing its 2013 Insiders’ Select™ rankings, an annual crowd-sourced list of the world’s best-reviewed hotels. The Insiders’ Select™ list recognizes the top-ranked hotels available in the Expedia global marketplace, as judged by more than 1 million annual guest reviews and in-house experts from among the more than 150,000 properties available on Expedia-branded sites worldwide.  The top 10 hotels in this year’s ranking include:


  1. One&OnlyPalmilla Resort (5 stars, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico)
  2. Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort  (4.5 stars, Quepos, Costa Rica)
  3. Marrol's Boutique Hotel  (5 stars, Bratislava, Slovakia)
  4. Banyan Tree Mayakoba (5 stars, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico)
  5. Hotel d'Europe (5 stars, Avignon, France)
  6. CapellaIxtapa Resort & Spa (5 stars, Ixtapa, Mexico)
  7. Welk Resort Sirena del Mar (4 stars, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)
  8. Casa Velas Hotel Boutique & Beach Club (4.5 stars, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)
  9. The Knight Residence (5 stars, Edinburgh, Scotland)
  10. The Leela Palace Bangalore (5 stars, Bengaluru, India)

Survey Methodology

This Expedia survey was conducted online from April 19, 2013 to May 15, 2013 across Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific by Harris Interactive among 8,606 respondents over the age of 18. In order to qualify to take the full survey, respondents either took a beach vacation in the past 12 months or are likely to take a beach vacation in the next 12 months. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact:


The 2013 Flip Flop Report examined beach attitudes and behaviors among the residents of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.


About® is the world’s leading online travel site, helping millions of travelers per month easily plan and book travel. (, 1-800-EXPEDIA) aims to provide the latest technology and the widest selection of vacations, cheap flights, cheap hotel deals, car rental, cruises and in-destination activities, attractions, and services. With the Expedia Best Price Guarantee, customers can get the best rates available online for all types of travel.


Expedia, and the Airplane logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners. © 2013 Expedia, Inc.  All rights reserved.  CST # 2029030-50


For more information, please contact:

Sarah Gavin                                            Dave McNamee                                          HL Group (for Expedia)

(425) 679-8917                                                       (646) 274-3635            

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2013 Flip Flop Report Infographic

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2013 Flip Flop Report Infographic image 2

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2013 Flip Flop Report Study

2013 Flip Flop Report Results