When I lived in Pennsylvania, my family would spend approximately a week at the beach in Maryland or Delaware each summer. The sand was tan in color and could burn your feet at the peak of the day. The water was cold, probably never reaching seventy degrees, and became deep very quickly. The waves always seemed to be several feet in height, and when they crashed down harshly on the shoreline, they stirred up sand and left white sea foam. It was a very rare pleasure to find a whole sea shell due to the roughness of the waves. When laying out in the sun or playing in the sand, the steady breeze provided relief from the heat. I would pass the time building sand castles, digging up common sand crabs or baby clams that could be spotted as the waves quickly receded, and jumping waves or body surfing until my lips turned blue. Each beach had its own perks. Rehoboth Beach had a boardwalk a mile long with food and shopping. Ocean City also had a boardwalk with the some additional benefits. There is an artist that often creates giant Christian sculptures from sand that has always awed me. At night there were also young musicians who would just sit and sing and play songs that stopped me in my tracks to listen. Cape Henlopen had the advantages of a state park, such as a campground, nature center, and many bike trails.
I have visited various beaches in Florida, such as Cocoa Beach, Clearwater Beach, and the Keys. The water is clearer than the beaches mentioned in the Northeast with temperatures in the seventies and eighties during the summer. The water also stays shallow for a great distance from shore, allowing people to walk hundreds of feet from the shoreline. Many whole seashells can be easily found and collected. Clearwater Beach is on the Gulf Coast and, therefore, typically has very calm water with small waves. Cocoa Beach is popular on the Atlantic Coast. The waves from the Ocean are larger than the Gulf side but still significantly smaller than in the Northeast. Last year I had the pleasure of traveling to the Florida Keys and was surprised to discover that there was not really any kind of beach with sand that allowed people to go swimming. The edges of the Keys appeared to be surrounded by rocks. However, Alan and I did travel two hours by a catamaran to the Dry Tortugas. The sandy beaches merged with crystal clear, blue water. There was coral that came within several feet of the shore and helped to create an amazing snorkeling experience.
On Alan’s and my honeymoon, we flew out to California and spent one day driving along the Pacific Coast north of San Francisco. The air was cool and heavy with dense fog. A steep cliff separated the road from the dark sand and ocean below. The waves were taller than me and the water cold. Although I didn’t go swimming, I enjoyed the scenery and the many seals gathered on a sandbar several hundred feet from shore.
The beaches throughout the U.S. are as varied as the states and people of various regions. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, with one not necessarily being superior to another. However, I must admit, that the beaches of my childhood are still my personal favorites.