by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
The beach means different things to different people.
For some, it is the spot to worship the sun. For others, it is the oasis from life’s reality, especially with a book hand. Many may see it as a gateway to the fun they can have in the water. A few may just enjoy the existential vibe of being there.
Whatever the reason, it receives a lot of love from a lot of people.
With that, I’d like to share my 10 favorite beaches, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in this country and beyond it, after five decades and change of visiting them. No, I’m not claiming to be an expert, but if anyone were to ask, yeah, I’d recommend all of the following.
Honorable Mention: Ocean City, N.J.; Ponce Inlet, Fla.; Long Beach Island, N.J.; Newport Beach, Calif.; Folly Beach, S.C.; Sombrero Beach, Marathon, Fla.; Clearwater Beach, Fla.; Ormond Beach, Fla.; Old Orchard Beach, Maine; Rocky Neck State Beach, Niantic, Conn.; Narragansett, R.I.; Belmar, N.J.; Wildwood Crest, N.J.
10: Siesta Key (Florida). When we hear the words “Key” and “Florida,” the natural sense is to think of the world famous stretch of islands that serve as the southernmost points of the Sunshine State. The reality is, there are other Keys in Florida, and this one resting a bridge-crossing away from Sarasota certainly offers one of the best beaches I’ve ever seen. Clean, eye-catching, accessible, it checks most boxes.
9: Coronado (California). The West Coast vibe flows freely and positively here. Situated across the bay from San Diego, the beach here is a visual dynamo, including the Hotel del Coronado, and presents the same in external sights. Florida gets the best weather year-round in the U.S., for my taste at least, but this area by the Pacific Ocean would rate right up there.
8: Cape May (New Jersey). You have multiple beaches, including Sunset Beach and along North Cape May, but we’re talking the main beach here, with the promenade, facing the Atlantic. Great place for families, or kids, or adults. Seems to still offer a more folksy, perhaps more classy, option than the rest of the Garden State’s coastline. The Victorian homes facing the beach are pure eye candy.
7: Sanibel Island (Florida). A nice little getaway, but a hefty toll, from Fort Myers. Whether it’s having sex on the beach under the moonlight or just experiencing a real island feel without being too far from civilization, this gem in the Gulf of Mexico is tough to be. The lights in the distance coming from Fort Myers Beach can add to the ambience once the sun goes down (and the crowd leaves).
6: Brigantine (New Jersey). A revelation within the last decade for me. Atlantic City and its surrounded area had usually been pooh-pooh’d by people I know, or, worse, not even mentioned at all. But, thankfully, I finally checked things out on my own, and Brigantine is dynamite. Easy access, great beach, terrific hangout on the beach, nice town, etc. Bonus: If you want to gamble, just hop over the bridge.
5: Fenwick Island (Delaware). The perfect antithesis to Ocean City, Md.: small, quiet, peaceful, clean, sand that stretches for all the eyes can see unencumbered by anything icky, including humans. The First State offers some really nice beach towns with Lewes, Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany, but this place is so different – like completely secluded from all the craziness nearby. With a lighthouse to boot.
4: Gulf Shores (Alabama). From here to Panama City Beach, Fla., a stretch of about 130 miles along the Gulf of Mexico that includes nearby Perdido Key and an almost picture-perfect Destin in Florida, offers an incredible string of beach communities, but this place is the one that has it all: white sand, activities for all, concerts, sports, even a ferry to Dauphin Island, Alabama’s more “natural” beach town.
3: Crane Beach (Barbados). The place looks like what every Hollywood producer envisions in a pristine, tropical, Mediterranean, Caribbean-type beach nestled somehow up against a cliff of some hard-to-believe coast. In short, a fantasy. Only this place is real, and the waves coming in from the Atlantic are ferocious. Riding them was treacherous, but worth it. Shades are mandatory … if only because they fit the profile of being in a movie – because you feel like you’re in one when here.
2: Miami Beach (Florida). The area, really, is three separate beaches: North Beach, Mid-Beach and, of course, the world-renowned South Beach. Truth is, you can’t go wrong with any in terms of quality of sand, access and the culture/character/activity nearby. But South Beach is the jewel, not just in this area, region or state, but the entire Atlantic Coast. The art-deco commercial area adjacent to the beach is spectacular at night, and the architecture within the neighborhood is eye-catching day or night. Plus, you have easy access to downtown Miami from here – if you want it.
1: Gulf Islands National Seashore (Florida). With whatever respect I can muster for the region of this that exists just east of Biloxi, Miss., we’re talking about the area that rests peacefully and blissfully east of Pensacola Beach, Fla. The white sand, the open space, the waves, even the brush that creates an organic border between street or lot parking and the beach, to me, just screams “ahhhh” – softly. The national shoreline stretches about 14 miles – from Pensacola Beach to Navarre Beach (two prime spots in their own right) – and, for me, always proved too enticing to pass up on the chance to stop, if only for 10-15 minutes, and enjoy what seemed to be a piece of nature’s perfection, visibly and audibly. Just vibe wise.