Puri beach is very different from its cousin further down the Bay of Bengal Coast, Pondicherry. Both have lifeguards dressed like traffic cops, but the similarities end there. It is a much more welcoming, playful beach here.
The surf was up the saturday I visited Puri, so no one was in the water further than knee deep (no boogie boards or body surfers in the crowd). Most beach goers sit or stand in their street clothes on the sea side of the dunes, in the wave zone, allowing the water to wash over them. Kids, parents, grandparents, men, women — everyone is there.