What Is Sea Bathing?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2019
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Sea bathing is a type of therapeutic treatment that involves partial immersion in seawater. The most common type of sea bathing involves visiting a coastline and swimming in warm seawater. In more recent times, the use of enclosed tanks or pools filled with seawater has become common in a number of health spa. Anecdotal evidence indicates that spending some time in the salty water can help with a number of physical and emotional health issues.

The concept of sea bathing as a curative measure appears to originate during the 17th century. During that time and in the centuries following, sending loved ones to the coast in order to recuperate after an extended illness was a popular option. The combination of salty air and water was said to help restore vigor as well as calm the mind, allowing the individual to eventually return to his or her normal activities. It was during this era that the concept of a bathing costume or bathing suit first began to emerge, eventually becoming popular not only at health spas but also among those who would go to the beach for recreation or exercise.


Sea bathing has long been considered a natural means of rejuvenating the mind and body. The combination of time exposed to natural sunlight, the fresh air found along the coastline and the warmth and mineral content of the seawater if often touted by alternative practitioners as being helpful in treating a number of health ailments. During the 20th century, research began to identify the benefits of exposure to sunlight in limited doses, helping to promote the production of vitamin D3 in the body. When coupled with the calming effect that the combination of fresh air and warm salt water tends to have on many people, the value of sea bathing has continued to attract many devotees.

In addition to sea bathing near the ocean, many health spas today also use seawater in contained units, such as pools or even individual holding tanks that resemble bathtubs. The idea is that the mineral content of the water is beneficial for promoting the body’s natural healing abilities and can be combined with other treatments to help correct a number of physical and emotional ailments. Health spas are sometimes located near sources of seawater, but can also be located just about anywhere, thanks to the ability to transport the water with relative ease.

Throughout the history of sea bathing, the question of what to wear during the bath has been addressed by a combination of regulations and codes set by local municipalities. In many areas of the world today, the use of swimsuits for both males and females is common. Private beaches and some spas also allow nude sea bathing at the discretion of the individual bather.


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