I was asked to write an article about a favorite beach. And, as I often do, I ended up turning a rather simple question into a more complicated one. That is because as I started thinking about it, I realized that people like going to the beach for different reasons. Some want seclusion where they can relax in the sun and read a book in peace. Others might want a nearby bar so they can sip on a Mai Tai while they watch the waves. For me, having a scenic setting surrounding the beach is a significant factor. And while I never mind enjoying a good drink, I always find quiet seclusion nice as well.
For sheer beauty, of the beaches that I have actually been on, it is hard to beat Trunk Bay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Not only does it have a beautiful setting of lush tree colored hills and nearby islands, the water is crystal clear. And you are sitting right on top of a reef. Grab some gear and there is great snorkeling right off the beach. They even have a "Snorkel Trail" that you can follow. I don't know about getting a Mai Tai, but there is a snack shop that has food and cold beer.
If it's seclusion as well as scenery you want, Kalalahu Beach on Kauai, Hawaii is about as beautiful as they come. This beach is on the Na Pali Coast where the scenery is out of this world. You could really take any beach along this coast and be in a true tropical paradise. I chose Kalalahu Beach in particular because it's at the mouth of the valley where the opening scene to Jurassic Park was filmed - like I said, out of this world. And the fact that it is only accessible by boat or foot guarantees that it won't be crowded. I, unfortunately, have only been able to view this beach from boat side (cruise ship). However, the view was enough to put spending time on this beach on my bucket list. Of course, any food and drink is strictly bring your own.
So based on my initial criteria, you have two great choices. But as I thought about the beaches I have been to, or more specifically the times I have spent at a beach, I realized there is another major factor that determines how much you enjoy a beach. That is attitude. I know, I know, your thinking "Dude, how can you go to the beach and not have a good attitude?" And to a large degree that is true. There is something about being near the ocean, seeing the waves and walking in the sand that has a relaxing effect on most everyone. So let me explain by giving a couple of examples.
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The first one that comes to mind is CocoCay, a Royal Caribbean owned island and cruise ship stop in the Bahamas. You can get a nice Mai Tai, or most anything else you want to drink. It also offers parasailing, kayaking, snorkeling and numerous other beach related activities. Of course, you will also be joined by at least one large cruise ship full of people. A little too crowded for my taste. That was until I decided to take a stroll around the bend to the other side of the island. There I found a beautiful beach setting with less than a dozen other people present. Along the beach was a shallow tidal pool with crystal clear water. Here you could wade out quite a ways and be no more than ankle deep. And in addition to the beautiful setting, I saw several shellfish and even some sea anemones in the water. It turned what probably would have still been a nice day at the beach into a great day at the beach.
The second outing that comes to mind is Orient Beach on St. Maarten in the Caribbean. And I thought CocayCay was crowded! My wife and I arrived to find a section among a sea of beach chairs where we were crammed in like sardines. From our chairs five rows back you could hardly even see the ocean. On the plus side, there were drinks and even a nice restaurant. We finally decided to go for an early lunch at the restaurant where they had an open-air dining area. Here we were actually able to enjoy a view of the ocean, as well as some good food. And we were early enough that we had the place almost all to ourselves. After that, we went for a walk along the beach and enjoyed the ocean and the scenery. Suddenly a very disappointing day became another great day at the beach.
In both of these cases, what started out as a somewhat disappointing day for me, ended up being a very nice day. All because instead of sitting there feeling stuck, I changed my attitude and got up and made the most of what was there. So what's my favorite beach? With the right attitude, any beach that I am lucky enough to be standing on at the time.