They say the best way to keep cool is to think cool thoughts. One of the coolest thoughts I can think of is being by the water or, to be more exact, at the beach. There was a time when it was my dream to visit beaches all around the world, to see which beach is the best. When a friend of mine who recently returned from Thailand, Bali and Bangkok said he dipped his feet into the Indian Ocean, I was pea green with envy.
My mom, who once owned a time-share in Cancun, Mexico, would gather us all and off we would go to spend two weeks in August at the Royal Mayan Resort. I thought that was, without a doubt, the best beach in the world or at least on the Yucatan, Peninsula. The water was dense and waves were big, yet the water very warm. However, every couple of years, as nature would have it, rocks would appear at the water’s edge and they were no fun.
Then there is South Beach in Katama, Martha’s Vineyard. This beach never fails to prove exhilarating. I first learned how to ride the waves at this beach, when my good friend at the time said, “Just hold my hand and jump when I do.” Now, I have taught my daughter to do the same. New England water can be cold, but once you get in, it is delightful.
A beach where the water is always delightful—if only you can get in—is Main Beach in East Hampton. Even in the dead of summer, the water will make your ankles throb and lips turn blue. Needless to say, the water is blue and the surf white and exceedingly clean. But OMG, it is cold! One of the most fascinating beach scenes I’ve ever seen was a day trip to Main Beach in November 2017. It was a warm, sunny day; nice enough to grab some lunch and a blanket, kick off your shoes and have a picnic on the sand. This I did, all the while watching the fiercest waves come rushing in at a height taller than me, only to crash along the shore, making a booming sound the likes of which I’ve never heard before and wonder if I can ever expect to hear again.
This past March, I took a short escapade to Nassau, Bahamas, where I stayed at the British Colonial Hilton, a very nice, reasonably priced hotel that sits on the edge of town, with its own private beach. Here, the water was calm, refreshing and offered a bit of excitement because the cruise ships were docked a short distance away. It wasn’t uncommon to see these massive beasts pass so close to where we swam as they made their way to the next port of call. On my agenda was a hop over to Paradise Island by water taxi. The guide was very nice, pointing out all of the sites, such as Nicholas Cage’s home and the yoga retreat.
Once we reached Paradise Island, my fantasy soon disappeared because it was decorated with mammoth hotels and a zillion people (not my idea of paradise). It was a shuttle ride and long hike to the public beach. Finally, on the beach, it was a bigger disappointment because the guys hustled you to rent a chair or buy a drink. And sorry to say, there were not the friendliest lot by any means.
The fact that there were police guards standing by was a sign that things could get out of hand at a moment’s notice. The sand wasn’t real sand; it was more like a higher grade of dirt, mixed with gravel. However, the water made up for all of the disappointment because it ranked by far among the best ever. You couldn’t go out far because the waves were rough and not to be taken lightly.
Being a die-hard beach bum, I’ve encountered this type of situation before. What I do in a case like this is to lie down on the sand at the shoreline and let the residue from the waves run over me while the currents take control and toss my body whichever way it pleases. Heavenly. I dream of going back.
My visit to the beach in Bermuda occurred in the evening as the sun went down, so although I wasn’t able to go into the water, it was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had. My dear friends Cheryl Chambers and her husband Seymour James were hosting their daughter Carol and soon to be son-in-law Shameek’s rehearsal dinner because they were to be wed the next day. Guests wore white, dine sufficiently and walked barefoot along the water’s edge. Warm, white sand and soft blue water with little ripples ran through our toes. Unforgettable.
That’s all very nice, but it’s time to bring it on home. How about Orchard Beach? (Yes, I’ve been there, too.) And if you were a teenager growing up in NYC, then you definitely made it to Riis Beach, every Saturday or Sunday.
Before I write another word, let’s give three cheers for Coney Island Beach. Raise your hand if you know what it is like to ride the D train to the last stop, grab your seafood platter from Nathan’s and spend the day in and out of the water as the barges in the distance go out past the Verrazano Bridge into the Atlantic Ocean. When the day was done, it was a walk through the amusements, maybe play a little skee-ball. Now that’s a day at the beach.
Last but not least, I would be so remiss not to mention my home beach. For those of you who have been following this column for years, I don’t have to tell you what beach that is, but I will tell you just the same. It is Jones Beach. I have yet to be out there this summer. Can you believe it? But I’m sure everything is in place, just like I remember. Maybe it is because some of my earliest and fondest memories are of going to Jones Beach with my parents. We would pack up the car and head out on an early Sunday morning so we could get a parking space in Field 6. That is the only parking lot where you can park down by the beach and have a cookout. We would do both. I recall one day in particular. We had burgers on our very little grill, along with a beat-up pot that my mother used to sit on the grill and heat up the can of baked beans. Although it had started to rain, we were not deterred. My dad got a large piece of tarp from the trunk of the car, threw it over the umbrella and made a little tent. There we were, the DeLaneys, on the beach. As the smell of the ocean air filled our lungs, we made our bones that day, beachcombers forever. Stay cool.
Until next week…kisses.