The other day I was reminded of the absolute uniqueness and splendor that accompanies packing a quick beach bag and having your toes in the sand in 30 minutes. Not to be overly dramatic but, it’s pretty darn amazing, just ask the snowbirds who are nesting on our sandy shores this very moment.
They will tell you they visited, saved, and dreamed their way through dreary winter days only to arrive in this paradise we call home for a week’s vacation that will go by far too quickly. Meanwhile, we actually live here, and on any given day, could throw a towel in the backseat and head to the nearest beach for some sunshiny fun.
But then reality, aka red tide, stole our beachy sanctuary and suffocated our sea life and many of us thought a normal day at the beach was a thing of the past. Recently, we’ve experienced a red tide reprieve which prompted me, and as it turned out, most of Sarasota County to rekindle with the sand and shore and it was heavenly. For me, Manasota Key seemed convenient and quiet, though a 15-minute ride around the rather large public parking lot assured me season is back and the beach is the hottest ticket in town. What I like about Manasota is as you cross the dunes, on the pedestrian approved path, of course, there is a moment where you can only see sand and seagrass and hear the waves so there is the illusion that maybe you have the beach to yourself. On this day, the masses and their chalky-white a–, well, you get the idea were out in full force which gave me fodder for my day-dreaming. As I soaked up the sun in the close proximity of strangers with their undercover beers and Doritos in tow, I pondered the beauty of sand time. After 32 years as a Career-Floridian, I have a well-stocked memory bank of joyous beach experiences to pull from so creating my list of must-haves for a perfect beach day was quite easy.
#1 Bring fruit. I don’t know why this is essential but eating fruit at the beach is like putting whipped cream on pumpkin pie, or beginning your day with a steaming cup of coffee—it just feels right. There’s something so refreshing about pulling a tub of cleaned strawberries or melon out of the cooler and munching on healthy and nourishing natural foods. Mm, Mm, “fruit on the beach” should be the namesake for a frosty cocktail.
#2 You need a quality sunscreen. I learned this one the hard way when I first moved to Ormond Beach in my late teens and embarrassingly crisped myself up way too many times to count. But I did discover that I liked Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen products, mostly because I felt duty-bound to use it as I laid out on the beach in front of HT creator Ron Rice’s home. I have no idea why I chose that as a way of ingratiating myself in my new community of Ormond, but I always wore my Hawaiian Tropic on the beach then, and still love it now.
#3 Get in the water. If you’re not a swimmer, then dip your toes in and if you can handle that, then immerse your body and feel the strength of the Gulf waters as you try to stay on your feet. If you’ve lived on the Atlantic Ocean side then you know Gulf people are babies and shouldn’t even complain about a strong surf. But still, letting your body succumb to the ebb and flow of the waters is a wonderful way to relax especially if you’re somebody who cannot let go. The powerful Gulf of Mexico waters let you know you are miniscule. Perspective is everything.
#4 End with a white shirt. This might not seem vital to a great day at the beach but coming home and taking a nice how shower to wash away the salt and sand followed up with a good moisturizer and a crisp white t-shirt to show off your sun kissed skin is the proper regimen to follow. Yes, we all know the health pitfalls associated with too much sun, but just a little Vitamin D therapy can go a long way toward your emotional well-being. And seeing a healthy glow in the mirror is a great perk-me-up moment.
#5 Take the mess with you. Don’t just concentrate on the garbage you have made, but by all means recycle your cans and bottles and drop your food garbage in the proper receptacles. Then, on your way out look for discarded straws and plastic hanging out on the beach and though not yours, pick that stuff up and get it off of our beautiful beaches.
And, that’s it! I could suggest this beach or that one, but you all know where your heart is longing to be when it’s a “beach day.” We’re so fortunate to have sand spray on our windshields and windblown hair after a few minutes at any of our great beaches. We hope you are reminded often that living in paradise is pretty amazing and something that should be giving us goosebumps on a daily basis.
Photos courtesy of DepositPhotos and Life’s a Beach Facebook page.