A: How is your weekend going?
B: I have been sightseeing (today) and earlier I was at the beach/I had been at the beach(?)
Which form should I use?
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This depends on whether the speaker wishes to convey when the 'being at the beach' occurred relative to the sightseeing.
The 'earlier I was at the beach' phrase implies no particular time, whether before or after the sightseeing; whereas the 'earlier I had been at the beach' implies the 'being at the beach' occurred earlier in the day than the sightseeing.