GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — The surf started building Monday morning and by the afternoon waves were breaking at 4 to 6 feet and double-red flags were up along Alabama’s gulf coast, meaning you can come to the beach but you can’t go in the water.

“It’s not safe to get in the water right now,” says Jonathan Phillips, the chief beach safety officer in Gulf Shores.

Visitors watched the Gulf churning as the severe storm system moves in from the west.

“The tides are too high and when there’s a double red flag,” says Candace Hunt visiting from Indiana. “You can’t be in the water.”

It may not be the best beach day but beach-goers are making the best out of the beach by taking in the latest bestseller, skimming on the edge or making friends with the wildlife like eight-year-old Claire Johnson from Missouri.

“They’re running after my sister,” she giggles as they feed the seagulls.

While it may be all fun and games on the sand, the water is off-limits.

“We’ve always been able to go in the water but we can’t go in the water here,” says Claire. “We’ve been told to stay out of it by lifeguards that have been patrolling,” adds her mother Alisa.

While disappointing, especially for a first trip ever to the beach, “It’s kind of defeating,” says Hunt. “Like I’ve been to the ocean before but this is my girls’ first time and I really wanted them to enjoy it.”

Surf conditions are expected to start improving by Wednesday afternoon. A high risk of rip currents is expected to last through the end of the week.