Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer
With the polar vortex upon us, and buried under snow and ice, I like to day dream about a warm beach under a blue sky with temperatures hovering around 75 degrees. Of course, a fruity beverage with an umbrella garnish is also part of my wishful thinking. I thought I’d share my favorite seashores and recapture the warm memories of favorite beach vacations. It’s never too early to start planning your winter escape.
Maui, HI. With 120 miles of coastline, Maui has over 30 miles of beaches. I don’t think you could pick a bad one, but we really enjoyed a part of the island called Kahana. It is famous for its wind surfing, but I only left the warm sand to wade into the azure water. We rented a first floor, three-bedroom condo at the Kahana Village that included a nice living room and a huge lanai. One of the highlights of the trip was a daylong snorkeling trip. We took a boat out to the crescent shaped island of Molokini, a State Marine Life and Bird Conservation District, and spent several hours swimming with sea turtles and colorful fish.
Oceanside, CA. This is a small city north of San Diego with great wide beaches. We rented a condo at North Coast Village that purportedly had a sunset beach view. It was a nice enough place, but you literally would have needed to hang off the balcony to catch the sunset. There was, however, a fabulous sunset view from the restaurant-class outdoor barbeque area, where my husband grilled a very tasty steak. The pier was a short walk away, and it was the best place to be surrounded by the ocean without going out on the water. Lots to see in the San Diego area—an incredible world famous zoo, SeaWorld and even LEGOLAN
Key West, FL. Key West is a small, funky town with 25,500 fun-loving residents, many hotel and restaurant choices, and nice, uncrowded public beaches. About five miles offshore along the length of the Keys is the only living-coral barrier reef in the continental U.S. The coral formations are famous for their abundance of fish, from impressive schools of blue-striped grunts to toothy green moray eels. We took our daughter on her first snuba experience, a combination between scuba and snorkeling. We really liked The Pier House as a place to stay. Blue Heaven was our favorite restaurant, with its outside seating and chickens under foot. Don’t miss the Key Lime pie with a sky-high meringue.
Amelia Island, FL. Amelia Island is in northeast Florida, just across from Georgia on the St. Marys River. We stayed at Amelia Island Plantation, 1350 acres of resort and nature. The beaches were world class and almost an afterthought when compared with all of the other fun activities. We really enjoyed the clay tennis courts and managed to fit in a spa treatment. It was also the first place we tried a Segway tour—those funny two-wheel things you ride standing up.
Kiawah Island, SC. For a truly five star vacation, book an ocean view room at The Sanctuary. The sweeping two-story staircases set the tone from the moment we entered the lobby. Our room was very classy with a huge tub, a marble walk-in shower, luxurious bedding and lots of pillows, and high quality soaps and shampoos. I spent several afternoons at the infinity pool nearest the ocean and mornings wiggling my toes in the sand. In either location, there was ample service for towels, food and beverages. We paddled a kayak through the wetlands to work up an appetite for dinner at the Ocean Room. If you can tear yourself away, Charleston is a short drive away.
Just thinking about all the wonderful beaches I’ve enjoyed makes me want to go back to all of them. Fun in the sun sounds wonderful in an early March Michigan.