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The Telescope

Beyond the Beach

People of all ages visit the Oceanside Pier at night to fish or just take in the calm of the coast. (Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope)
People of all ages visit the Oceanside Pier at night to fish or just take in the calm of the coast. (Claudia Rodriguez/The Telescope)

Help! I hate the beach!

I know, I know–everyone loves the beach. But not me! I sunburn fast, so I’m not much for sunbathing. I’m not a big fan of extreme heat. Since I wear glasses and can’t see without them, I don’t enjoy swimming in the ocean–I can’t see anything, so I can’t appreciate the beauty of the water, and I also feel kind of uncomfortable being so blind out there.

My anti-beach position causes some friction between my family and me. They love the beach and want to take every trip to beach towns and resorts. I don’t have much of a say, since I’m not contributing big bucks to the travel plans, but I hate feeling like the odd man out. Experts, what should I do? How can I convince my family to try something else?

Beaches aren’t the only types of vacations out there. From big-city sightseeing to small-town experiences, there are countless ways to enjoy some time off. Even water sports and fun and the sun are not monopolized by ocean beaches: ponds, lakes, and even slow-moving rivers offer some of the same opportunities in different settings.

Here’s the thing: you’re free to take any one of these vacations yourself. Your problem seems to be that your family’s generous tendency to take you on trips doesn’t line up with your personal preferences.

We’re not trying to shame you, and we understand that there can be legitimate concerns within this dynamic. It’s tough to turn down a family vacation, and it’s fair to ask your family to consider each member’s joy when planning a vacation that–we assume–is supposed to be for everyone to enjoy. However, asking for a different sort of vacation when you’re not the one supplying the funding may be a bit much–so let’s talk about some compromises.

A beach vacation is a classic sort of trip, but that phrase–”beach vacation”–often understates what’s possible in such settings. Sure, some folks go to the beach every single day of their trip (and it sounds as if that may be what your family enjoys doing). But no self-respecting beach town relies on the beach alone, vacation experts say. And when it comes to gorgeous foreign beaches, forget it: there are incredible cultural and sightseeing opportunities away from the shore, too.

Experts who manage family holiday resorts in Cairns tell us that resorts offer much more than just beach access: food, spas, events, interactive activities, and more are all on offer at many high-end beach resorts. A good resort-based beach trip could give your family the opportunity to spend maximum time on the beach–while you live it up at shoreside bars, relax by pools, and enjoy local entertainment.

The same goes for entire communities. Ask anyone who has been to Hawaii; the famous beaches and gorgeous waters are just part of the appeal of one of our most fascinating states. Sightseeing opportunities like helicopter tours in Maui can give Hawaii vacations a more naturalistic or cultural feel, which you might find more stimulating than a beach-bum week. And what about water sports and physical activities–surfing, for instance, or bike-riding by the shore?

You only have so much control over your vacation plans, of course, but you should work to come up with activities that interest you in areas near beaches. Adapt to your family’s plans as well as possible, and be honest about your dislike of the beach without coming across as resentful. Make a real effort to get along, but stand up–politely–for your own schedule and priorities. Just explain that you’ll be spending some time exploring the town, or that you’ll be at the bar near the beach (under a nice shady umbrella). Fund your own adventures and make time to spend time with your family (if you’re all beached-out, be extra sure to catch them in the evenings, over dinner, or in the morning before they trek out).

Vacations should bring families together–experiences like a beach town trip can create lasting happiness. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to experience every bit of the trip in the same way that the rest of your family does. Be respectful, but find the things that interest you. You should be able to have fun near the beach, even if you’re not on it!

“May your joys be as deep as the ocean; your sorrows as light as its foam.” –

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Beyond the Beach