I was about 2 years old when I went to my first beach. It was on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania (how glamorous, I know.) But I fell in love with the water and the sand and din’t want to leave. My mom and grandparents saw how much I loved my first taste of the beach and thought it would be fun to take me on vacation to a more “exciting” beach. Hence, our family trip to Cancun over Thanksgiving in 1999.
I’ve been to several beaches around the world since then, and each of them have been unique. Whether it be the color of the sand, the scenery surrounding it, or the activities available, each beach has been memorable.
Often times the process of getting ready to spend a day at the beach seems daunting to me — getting into swimsuits, packing a beach bag, lathering on sunscreen, staking out beach chairs, etc. — but once I’m there, dipping my toes in the cool, blue ocean or lounging on my chaise soaking up the sun, I remember why I love the beach so much. Living in the middle of the Midwest doesn’t prove friendly to beach-going, so I’ll take any opportunity I can when traveling to hit up a beach.
Here are some beaches I’ve been to in my travels:
Cancun, Mexico: Cancun was the first resort-style beach I went to. I don’t really remember much of it, but I do remember that I loved digging in the sand with my little plastic shovel looking for Mexican pesos. (A much lower-tech version of scanning the sand with a metal detector.)
Boulders Beach (Cape Town, South Africa): Okay, so I technically went to this beach before we went to Cancun, but it was winter in South Africa when we were there so we didn’t really do “beachy” things. This beach is most famous for its penguins, which are adorable!
Perissa Beach (Santorini, Greece): This beach was unique because it was a black sand beach, due to the volcanic history of the famous Greek island. So far, my favorite beach memories have been from this beach. The water was crystal clear and the day was perfect: warm and sunny. I remember floating in the ocean, letting my head dip under the water and becoming completely ensconced in the distinct quiet that only occurs underwater. After floating in the water for a while, we relaxed on lounge chairs while watching ships pass in the distance. I even got a foot massage by a roaming beach masseuse!
Copacabana & Ipanema (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): Perhaps two of the most famous beaches in the world (thanks, Barry Manilow.) You can’t go to Rio and not visit these two icons (and it’s hard to miss them, especially since Copacabana covers such a long stretch of the city.) We visited Brazil in July when it was winter there. It was still warm enough to spend time at the beach, but not quite warm enough to go swimming in the ocean. We spent the most time at Ipanema, which was gorgeous because of its mountainous backdrop.
Waikiki Beach (Honolulu, Hawaii): I went to Waikiki Beach right after my senior year when my high school marching band took a trip to Honolulu. Waikiki is the typical type of beach you probably think of when you think of a beach. It has soft, white/yellow sand, bright blue waters and lots of tourists. It was a lot of fun though, especially because I was there with so many of my band friends. We swam in the Pacific, laid out in the sun and built sandcastles (including a sand birthday cake for one of our band directors!)
Cressy Beach (Tasmania, Australia): The number of times I’ve written about this beach on this blog is getting to be too much, yet here we are again. This is the cute little beach we stopped at on our 3-hour drive home from Wineglass Bay to Hobart. It was winter and pretty cold out so we definitely did not go in the water, but the sunset made this beach magical. I’ve literally never in my life seen the sky turn such jaw-dropping shades of pink and purple. It felt like we were walking in a painting. And for an extra bonus, we were the only people there!
Bondi Beach (Sydney, Australia): The first time I visited Sydney my mom and I didn’t make it out to Bondi, so I was glad I was able to go with my intern friends my second time to the city. Again, winter in July meant it was too cold to go in the ocean, although chilly temps didn’t stop some from swimming an surfing. But there were many other things to do at this famous beach (including riding an actual camel…) We went on a beautiful hike along the beach’s coast and saw some stunning views from high up on the rocks.
Reynisfjara Beach (Vik, Iceland): This was the second black beach I’ve been to. Iceland is a country of immense natural beauty, and this beach was no exception. Reynisfjara Beach was special because there was this giant cave right on the beach. And it was huge. There were also flocks of puffins perched atop the greenery of the cave roof (and a boy whose dumb parents let him climb up the side of the cave.) Not only did this beach have incredible views of water and rocks, but you could even see a glacier off in the distance.