What is it about beaches? When we want to conjure relaxing thoughts, we often find our minds wandering to the sounds of the waves rolling in and out, the wind, the seagulls. There’s just something about them, and this world is full of extraordinary swaths of sand that beckon travelers. Our recent return from the South Pacific and Australia with the plethora of beaches inspired us to pause and consider beaches we’ve walked – because, make no mistake about it , we prefer to walk a beach rather than lie on one – and beaches we’ll walk in the future.
Our most recent beach experience was Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia, the subject of our most recent video. An urban beach, it really does go for miles and the boardwalk is a magnificent way to see it in its entirety. And Manly did remind us a bit of Waikiki, which for all it has to recommend it, is not one of our very favorites. So, we started to think, what were our favorite beaches?
A few years back we spent some time at the St. James’s Club, a wonderful resort in Antigua. With its crescent-shaped beach within a lagoon, it offered many of the beach-side amenities everyone craves. However, it wasn’t especially long, had little wave action and was bordered by the resort. That trip, however, did take us to a beach that holds some our best beach memories. We decided to take a trip to Barbuda.
We embarked the fast ferry, known to us now as “the vomit comet” (we were thankfully among the few who did not…well, you know) that beached itself along the deserted shores of the tiny island of Barbuda. Although there are a couple of small, low-rise hotels along the beach, for the most part it was completely deserted. We walked for kilometers in the sun listening to the sea roll in and out. It was heaven. Even now, years later, as we think about that day at the beach, we relax and breathe deeply.
Another of our favorites is the beach along the Condado in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Stretching for several kilometers along the high-end neighborhood of the Condado, it is long, wide and sparsely populated – or at least it has been on the several occasions we visited San Juan. Despite the hotels along this beach being a drive from Old San Juan, their proximity to this beach (just walk out the back door) makes them our choice when visiting Puerto Rico.
Two other beaches that are among our favorites are on that list for a different reason. Rather than a day-long beach walk, they both offer interesting perspectives.
The beach at the Crane Resort on Barbados is often listed among the best in the world. Well, that is clearly a subjective assessment, but it is beautiful and its location on the wild Atlantic side of the island does make its roaring waves mesmerizing. Add onto this the fact that you reach it via either a steep staircase or the elevator (!) and you can get a sense of the kind of beach it is.
The other interesting one that brings a smile to our faces is the beach in downtown Phillipsburg, St. Martin. The locals have built a magnificent boardwalk that divides the beach from a string of shops and restaurants. Many of the restaurants offer beach chairs and buckets of beer for a lazy day taking in the activities in the harbor. The sand is soft and the sun is hot.
Speaking of sand, our final two memorable beaches are memorable both for their locations and for their sand – we use that word loosely!
In the south of France, the grains of sand on the beaches cannot really be described as grains at all. They are pebbles. The beachfront in Nice is wonderful for a variety of reasons. It is bordered by a several-kilometers-long walkway where people stroll, cycle and roller-skate, as well as some of the most interesting beach-front restaurants where you can sit on a lounger and sip champagne to while away the day.
Finally, if you ever have a chance to visit Canada’s most easterly province, grab a sweater and take a trip to Topsail Beach just outside the city of St. John’s in Newfoundland & Labrador. Sit for a moment in the bracing breeze and pick up a few beach rocks to skim into the waves. Listen to the seagulls and remember what Dennis Wilson of Beach Boys fame once said: “On the beach, you can live in bliss.”
Have a few minutes, come along to Manly Beach with us.