I never loved my Apple Watch until I used it at the beach

Blue sea and white sand beach
(Image credit: iMore / Stephen Warwick)

I’ve had an Apple Watch for a while now, but I’ve never been that bothered about it. I was supposed to be an early adopter of the first generation thanks to a hefty employee discount, but I canceled it ahead of launch. I finally relented with Series 3, and I’ve since owned both Series 7 and Series 8

Whilst I like the Apple Watch, I’ve never thought of it as indispensable. In fact, unless I need it for a purpose, such as tracking a workout or navigating an airport, I tend not to wear one day to day, and certainly never at home. I find getting notification pings on my wrist to be horrendously annoying.

This past week, however, I took some much-needed vacation and headed to the island of Mallorca. Turns out, the Apple Watch is absolutely indispensable when you head to the beach.

Beaches are great, but there are some drawbacks. Sand, sea, and seaweed get everywhere, and I mean literally everywhere. There’s sun cream, there are refreshments, sticks, dust, and anything else you can think of. What better place then, to lock your iPhone away in a bag and let your Apple Watch do all of the hard work?

The recipe for success

Apple Watch series 8

The secret to Apple Watch, it's all in the complications.  (Image credit: Future / iMore)

With a couple of complication tweaks, I found the Apple Watch to be a vital beach companion on my holidays in a way I’ve never found elsewhere. There’s navigation, which is handy in getting you to your destination, of course, but on arrival, the Apple Watch really begins to excel.

I set my Nike Apple Watch face to display the weather and the UV index. With temperatures consistently in the 90s and UV index readings of 9, 10, or even 11 (the stay-inside level), the sun in Mallorca is not to be trifled with. Without ever once picking up my iPhone, I had an ever-present guide to the outdoor conditions, ensuring that during my time making sand castles, I spent ample time in the shade and out of harmful UV rays.

When it was time to leave the shade and hop in the sea, setting an open water swim was perfect to capture my exertion as I floated around the med, snorkeled, and made several extremely poor attempts at standing up on a paddle board. I love the water lock on the Apple Watch, which keeps all the hatches battened down and ensures you can’t accidentally activate your watch display while swimming. As soon as you’re out of the drink, the water ejection vibration is a fun yet reassuring experience that ensures you’re not bringing any salty sea water home with you in your Apple Watch’s speaker.

Keeping in touch

Apple Watch underwater

(Image credit: Apple)

As friends and my Wife went back and forth from our spot, our Apple Watches were perfect for sending messages or a quick walkie-talkie to keep everyone informed as to whereabouts and plans. Finally, when it came time to retrieve the all-important ice creams, Apple Pay was right there on my wrist to deliver the goods. 

The Apple Watch is obviously more limited than an iPhone in terms of raw functionality, but the proximity on my wrist and the immense build quality of my Series 8 filled me with confidence that my watch could handle an afternoon at the beach the way my iPhone might not want to.

Sun, sea, and sand left my Apple Watch unphased, and provided me with all the tools I needed to stay safe and enjoy myself, all the while detaching me from my iPhone and the dreaded internet portal of doom-scrolling that can ruin even the most relaxing day. 

Our next trip takes us to Lanzarote in October, and you best believe I can’t wait to take my Apple Watch Series 9 (or maybe my Apple Watch Ultra 2) along with me. If only it could help me stand up on a paddleboard for more than 10 seconds.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • Ledsteplin
    I would have skipped the Nike watch face. There's others better.
  • venos
    I had Apple Watch s5 for 3 years. The latest 1.5 years i used it on a swimming pool tracking my training. Always after swimming i pour clean water to throw away the chlorine (with no pressure). And i used the water vibration feature many times afterwards. It broke on the 3rd year. It is not water resistant,it is water proof. When time passes the ability to prevent water for entering in it , it diminishes. And you end up with a broken watch which can not be fixed…..
    Sad but true…
  • seonline
    This always shocks me. I got the first Apple Watch. First thing I did was turn off notifications for everything but only important people or apps. So notifications were never an issue. But what I found was a million conveniences that made it indispensable. The earliest were: driving direction taps to notify you so you didn't have to use audible directions that ruin music or conversations, being able to set timers and alarms super easy, contactless payments (which I love and still use daily), opening my garage and turning on certain lights, having weather elements at a glance. It even let me know tide states quickly which was huge for anchoring our crapy little boat, even using it as a flashlight for looking under the couch and stuff. Tons of small insignificant life improvements but bundled together made it amazing. But they they got better, faster, more advanced and I love when they alert me about breathing, loud noises, to drink water (I'm terrible at remembering this). Home automation on it is stellar now, I have tons of loyalty cards and apps on it for paying at places like the movie theaters, starbucks, for public transportation, it has my flight tickets on it (easier then digging in pocket or even having to get my phone out), notifies me if my security cameras pick up things, works as a great shutter button for my iPhone which is awesome as I love photography. I've been having some minor heart anomalies and it's been great for the ECG and for my doctors to look over info. I've taken some hard spills doing dumb things and it was nice knowing if I needed help all I had to do was not cancel the 911 countdown. Using the find my app on it to quickly locate things, track medications for my parents, control music, use an as Apple TV remote...I mean seriously. It's so much nicer and makes me use my phone so much less I find it an absolute must. And this is only scratching the surface. Oh yeah, and I love I can swipe up, click a button, and my watch and phone are silenced at movie theaters or events. I owned the 1st watch (technically the 0 gen), gen 2 and gen 4. Think I might go ultra when the second version comes out. I get the one with cellular but only activate it on vacations. It gives me better GPS and added piece of mind when I travel every great once in awhile.