Plenty has changed in the decades since these moments were captured and preserved in the TIME/LIFE archives. Bathing suit hemlines have crept higher (though we still love a fabulous one-piece), and beach goers across the country have traded belly sliding for stand-up paddle boarding.
Back in the day, people flocked to the beach for beauty parades and tanning competitions. There were no tablets or e-readers, no cell phones or Bluetooth speakers. For entertainment, they carried beloved beach reads and ukuleles.
But the appeal of the beach has remained constant, as Time noted. “People on a beach can feel just as free and equal as they were created,” observed Life editors.
Pictured in this gallery are people from all walks of life, sunning and splashing on the best beaches of Brooklyn, Sydney, California, Italy, and more. The images, taken from the 1940s to the 1960s, depict familiar crowds swelling beneath the now-defunct Parachute Jump at Coney Island, and men in a shaded cove behind a parking lot full of retro automobiles.
You may even spot an iconic itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, polka dot bikini—we can only assume it was yellow.
Some things never change, of course. From afternoons spent eating hot dogs on the boardwalk at Coney Island to lazy mornings lounging beneath a beach side cabana, these photos are really just proof that no matter how many years pass by, people around the world still love to spend summers by the sea.