Find Your Favorite Beach

Plan now to visit one of these beautiful beaches, where you can relax and reset.

The ocean is in me. It runs through my veins. Even when I am far from the shore, I hear the rhythm of the waves, see the gulls gliding overhead, and taste the salty breeze—embedded memories that are part of who I am.

My love of the sea began when my dad took me sailing. He was always happiest on the water, and I think of him now when my husband and I go out in our little sailboat. Sailing connects me to my father—and to the sea.

I grew to love the ocean even more when my family lived on a wisp of a beach called Sandbridge south of Virginia Beach, where sea oats waved in the wind among tall dunes. I remember walking on the beach during my turbulent adolescence, seeking answers to life's questions but finding only shells, small colorful bits whose ancient secrets lay buried in the sand.

Fast forward a few decades and my love affair with the ocean—with all bodies of water—continues. Lakes, streams, bays, waterfalls, rivers: each has its own pulsing current, inviting us to dip in our toes. But the ocean's edge is where I feel most at home. Maybe because the sea is such a mystery, and unknown dreams lurk on the distant horizon.

Whenever I travel, I seek out beaches and relive my youth as I walk along the shore, still pondering life's questions.

Here are a few beaches I know and love in no particular order, along with recommended places to stay.

Favorite Tropical Beach
Hanalei, Hawaii

I almost lost my husband in Kauai. When he saw the emerald-green, crescent-shaped beach at Hanalei on the north shore, he fell under the island's spell. So did I. We dove into the turquoise water, clear and warm, gazed at the lush mountains all around, and dreamed of buying a little bungalow and staying forever. Recommended: Hanalei Surfboard House.

Favorite Caribbean Beach
St. George, Grenada

Grand Anse Beach, a brilliant white crescent on Grenada's southwest coast, stretches for three miles, bordered by the sapphire-blue Caribbean Sea. This remote tropical island offers a laid-back vibe and spectacular nature—think waterfalls and jungles—but the beach is my favorite, especially at sunset when the sun dips down in a tangerine sky. Don't miss their famous rum punch, perfect for sipping as you stroll along the shore. Recommended: Spice Island Beach Resort.

Favorite Family Beach
Cape Charles, VA

Peaceful Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore feels like it's stuck in the 20th century, and that's what makes the town so charming. Its west-facing beach borders the Chesapeake Bay and offers perfect tiny waves and shallow water for children to play in. Plan to bring a picnic supper and watch the sun set languidly in the western sky. Best part? Parking is free! Recommended: Hotel Cape Charles; hotelcapecharles.com.

Favorite Beach for Nature Lovers
Chincoteague, VA

Cute little Chincoteague, also on the Eastern Shore, is the ideal base to explore one of the Virginia's most pristine beaches: Assateague Island National Seashore. This barrier island straddles the Maryland line and offers visitors a glimpse of nature in its purest form. Besides wide, sandy beaches, hiking trails penetrate deep into maritime forests, through salt marshes, and along coastal bays. If you're lucky, you'll see wild ponies grazing in the marshlands. Bring a picnic and enjoy. Recommended: Marina Bay Hotel & Suites.

Favorite All-Around Beach
Virginia Beach, VA

Even though there are fewer sand dunes and sea oats to be found, I still love Sandbridge. Its peaceful vibe and mellow beaches are perfectly suited for families and couples. If you're seeking excitement, stay in the bustling resort area where restaurants and activities abound. My favorite stretch of sand is the resort area's North End from 45th-88th Street. The beaches are wide and less crowded, and it just feels cozy. Street parking at the North End is free, but get there early. Recommended: Cavalier Hotel.

Favorite Fishing Beach
Cape Hatteras, NC

Every chance she gets, my friend Jeri, an avid fisherwoman, heads to her favorite spot to cast for fish—The Point in Buxton on Hatteras Island. She says the Outer Banks' proximity to the Gulf Stream means it's a treasure trove of tasty fish—puppy drum, croaker, bluefish, and striper. "I love the small village feeling in Buxton," says Jeri. "Sun, surf, and fishing—what more could you want?" Recommended: Rent a beach or soundfront house in the off-season for as little as $700 a week.

Favorite Mediterranean Beach
Nice, France

Exotic, international, stunning—these adjectives don't begin to do justice to this palm-tree fringed city in the south of France. Its pebble beach faces south and curves around the Bay of Angels. A wide boardwalk parallels the shore, where elegant French families amble alongside bikini-clad babes. The Old Town is close by, and the Cours Saleya Market is a must-visit. Try the pissaladière, a pizza of sorts with olives, onions, and anchovies. Recommended: Le Negresco Hotel.

Favorite Gulf Beach
Rosemary Beach, FL

Known for fine, powdery sand—like sugar—Florida's Gulf beaches regularly receive "Best Beach" accolades and awards. The Panhandle's beaches are especially fine, and I like Rosemary Beach best. This planned community has a small-town feel but a luxury vibe. Rental properties range from carriage homes to multi-family properties, many with beach views and all luxuriously appointed. Recommended: The Pearl.

Read more of Peggy's travel adventures at www.tidewaterwomen.com/travel.

Life's short.
Plan a trip!

Peggy Sijswerda

Tidewater Women Magazine, Editor & Co-Publisher.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com
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