I loved going to the beach, the sad part is I didn’t even live near water, the closest beach to me was more than four hours away. There was a time when I felt that beaches in America were good enough, but since then I’ll learned better. I was only child at the time, but this is the story of how I learned about how the Caribbean does it better.
I can’t remember when I first heard waves crashing. I can’t even remember what it was like the first time I felt sand against my feet. I guess it didn’t matter because somehow I fell in love with the beach. I always loved the salty smell of the air. I couldn’t resist a day sitting under a scorching sun with my favorite bikini having fun at the beach.
Every year my father would take a business trip to St. Simons Island that also served as our family vacation. St. Simons Island was on the coast of Georgia and it was one of the few beaches I knew. The hotel we stayed at sat parallel to the ocean with the sand separating the land from the shore. As I walked through a revolving door I inhaled a whiff of sea and hotel. I couldn’t have been more eager to check into our room, but it took literally thirty minutes. I was ready to see the beach.
My dad stood at the check-in desk with my mom directly by his side. He huffed his breath and stood impatiently with the frown he made when people didn’t do as he asked. I avoided making that face, but I was also impatient. I watched people walk in and out of the hotel in their bathing suits. The lady at the desk continued to click away on her keyboard. I didn’t understand why it would take so long to check someone into a reserved room. My little brother Devin was hanging around me being my little brother. Finally, we got our keys and room number. Our room was on the inside of the hotel, which was a total bummer because I wanted a window facing the beach.
I wanted to go out to the beach and watch the sand bar. Swimming there was out of the question, but looking at it was great. I wanted to build sand castles and dig holes in the sand. Needless to say, I wanted to do every activity that you can pack into a day at the beach. My mother told me the water was polluted which was why the water was gray, but that wasn’t a really concern because I still played in the water. I didn’t know much about why the ocean was any color other than what it looked like. The only beach was the one closest to me, St. Simon’s Island; anything nicer was completely unrealistic or in California. I took what I was given.
My parents, unfortunately, decided to go off on vacation by themselves leaving their precious children at home. They had been persuaded by close friends to take a “real” vacation. In their friend’s definition, a real vacation was going on a seven-day cruise to several different Caribbean Islands. I never heard much of about the Caribbean except for when I watched Pirates of the Caribbean; from the movie, it looked nice. I tried not to get super jealous when they came back all sun-kissed and happy. They left me in Georgia with Devin to go get a fantastic tan.
When we finally got to our room, my parents weren’t eager to do anything because they were tried. I just wanted to go somewhere. I left and wandered around alone and walked around downstairs. There was the nice breakfast buffet I loved to eat at. There was the bar I wasn’t allowed to drink at (at the time), but it looked cool to sit at. I walked passed the indoor pool with the jacuzzi. Then I went outside to the outdoor pool and I walked alongside the sand but never reaching the beach. I really wanted to go the beach. I was here and I wanted to brag to my friends when I got back to school.
When my parents finally agreed to go, we weren’t going to get into the water at all, we were going to wait until the next day. I was really pissed, but I was going so there was no need to get my panties bunched. Me, my mom, dad, and Devin walked the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean and listened to the waves crash and watched the water touch the sand. My parents didn’t look satisfied by this part of the Atlantic at all. What I had not realized is that my views on beaches were about to change.
As we made it out to the ocean my mood increased by hundred percent. Everything was fantastic. My flips flops began sliding on the sand. I took them off let my feet touch the ground. The sun was setting letting the sky turn a bright pink. I was having a great time and then my mom ruined it.
“When we were in St. Lucia the water was so crystal clear,” My mom said.
She awed and I ignored her. There were other people walking on the beach. Some of them had their dogs. It was getting darker. I was using everything to ignore everything she was going to say about the Caribbean beaches. I didn’t want to hear it because I didn’t get to go, but I listened to her ramble on and on about the water.
“The sand sticks to your feet and it’s hard to get off; you bring sand on the ship without even realizing it,” she continued.
I actually wanted her to shut up so I could enjoy the beach, but she didn’t it. She decided to continue talking about the different beaches she had gone too. I wanted to see these new fancy beaches. My dad started talking about the water and then I became even more annoyed.
“Don’t keep talking about it if you aren’t going to take me,” I thought.
My eyes rolled into the back of my head several times over. Lastly, they said, “We are going to have to take you guys on a cruise so you can see a real beach.”
Well, we actually didn’t go on a cruise until two years later, but it happened. I packed over two weeks worth of clothes, and I was ready. I didn’t know about my brother, but my expectations were high. My mother had been hyping us for months going on and on about the cruise and the beach. I really wanted to see the beach. Devin and I were both excited and scared because we were leaving the country for the first time. I was good and ready to see the real beach and wanted to experience what was better than American beaches. We were sailing from Miami, where the water was a green-grayish color just like any other part of the Atlantic I had seen. As I hung over the railing on the ninth deck of the ship, I wondered when the water was going to turn blue.
When we set sail and in a few hours later the water was so blue, I didn’t have anything to compare it to. I had never been so far out into the ocean and I had never seen any water that color! I was missing out on so much in life! The funny part about it was, I hadn’t even reached the beach yet. I had to play the waiting game again. When I got up the next morning we were in Half Moon Cay Bahamas.
I had only seen the beach from afar, but I could see the sand was white and powdery. I fell instantly in love. How could I have been deprived for so long! It was like something that you would only see in a movie and I had seen plenty of those. I had bragging rights. It was amazing how much beauty that was not in Georgia. St. Simons Island wasn’t much once I got to the Bahamas.
We got off the ship and headed towards the beach. I put my pink flip-flops onto the gritty surface; my shoes flooded with sand. I pulled my foot out the sand fell like a waterfall. I was hyped. Sand was consuming my feet turning them white with every step. This never happened at St. Simons Island. My feet were always on top of the sand and moved only when I was near the waves. This was strike one against St. Simons.
We found a spot close to the shade then spread out our towels and stripped down to our bathing suits. I placed my foot into the water, then I quickly pulled it out. The beautiful water struck me with coldness similar to ice. I was not going to submerge myself completely into a bath of freezing water. I stepped out keeping my feet in the warm dry sand. I knew eventually I was going to get in, but it wasn’t going to happen by me just jumping in. I went back and put one foot in. Then I put both feet in and started walking farther into the water. The farther I went the colder it got. After standing in one spot for about ten minutes it warmed up, but then a wave came and made it cold again.
The small things that made St. Simons Island what it was really didn’t make it that great. I always thought of the beach as this humid place stricken with a snitch of dead fish and built up sewage. The beach didn’t smell like that. The scent of the Caribbean was clean, there wasn’t a lingering smell of fish, but a light scent of salt. And that was strike two against St. Simons Island.
As I stepped out of the freezing water and back onto the sandy surface my feet began to warm. Sand covered me up to my ankles, then I plopped to the ground and dug holes in the sand. I really couldn’t do that at the other beach. It was too hard to do that. At the Bahamas the sand was so soft, I could dig a hole to the center of the earth. My parents really didn’t do much except lay down and chat. My mom eventually can to help me build a sand castle. We pushed the sand together with our hands and tried to form a tower. We worked on it for a while and I was proud of it even though it wasn’t extraordinary.
There could have never been a better place. The Caribbean honestly did it better than any beach I had been too. Why couldn’t my beaches back at home have done any of these things? The only negative part about the Caribbean was when I decided to get up and go the bathroom and the sand began to burn the soles of my feet. My mom handed me my sandals as I hopped on one leg across the beach yelling “hot! hot!” It didn’t take away from anything because I still felt that I was in a Hollywood movie.
Later in the week, we docked at Grand Turk and by this time I had already seen such beautiful water I just wanted to play in the sand. The water was still pretty and the sand was still soft and a lot cooler than previous Half Moon Cay Bahamas.
We set up a spot to relax, close to the water, but far enough not to get wet. While everyone one went to the water, I sat down pushing my feet deep into the sand. I curled my fingers and pulled the sand closer to me while clearing a space. A small hole began to form and I continued the same motion until I had a hole about a foot deep. I wanted to dig it deeper, but we it was time to go. I spent most of my time digging a hole in the sand, but it wasn’t something I could do back at the beach at home.
The Caribbean left such an impression on me that I haven’t even wanted to go back to any beach in America. St. Simons Island needed to take notes because The Caribbean does it better.