To capture exceptional photos at the beach, arrive early or late, seek color, approach the picture from unique angles and afford a great deal of attention to the light. Adjust the settings on the camera and utilize UV and polarizing filters as well. Certain subjects make for more interesting images, so determine those ahead of time for better pictures.
For approximately one hour at sunrise and one hour at sunset, light is warm, soft and ideal for capturing pictures. Try to time the photographs with these hours. Not only are the lighting and colors optimum at those times, there are fewer people on the beach to interrupt your session. If midday shooting is the only option, try adjusting the flash or using a portable reflector to reduce shadows created when the sun is overhead.
Beach time is captured best through the use of color. Seek beach umbrellas, sand toys and beach towels to provide excellent contrast and convey tone. Position your body in interesting angles, especially above or below the eyes of a person you are photographing and avoid standing at the middle level of a subject. Try shooting in macro mode.
Bright sunlight often adjusts the light meter on cameras in undesirable ways. To avoid this, set the camera to beach mode. Use an ISO of 100 or 200 and aperture of f/22 or so.