The beach is typically described as having a smell that is briny with a somewhat fishy accent, according to Scientific American. Many factors contribute to the distinct smell of the ocean.
The compound dimethyl sulfide, or DMS, is commonly produced by marine bacteria, particularly in areas where plankton and ocean plants are dying. Those who wish to smell dimethyl sulfide without a trip to the beach can find it in smaller quantities from cooking corn or cabbage although it is muddled by other smells in that context. Interestingly, many seabirds use the smell of this compound to seek out meals because the fish they eat are attracted to plankton.