In my continuing effort to get into a summer holiday mood this weekend, I am posting a link to Dr. Beach’s list of top ten sandy ocean spots. It’s heavy on the Hawaiian venues, but it also includes one in Cape Cod and another on Long Island that I think I’ve been to in the past.
It doesn’t surprise me that Hawaii would trump New England. I’ve never been to the former, alas, although I’ve heard enough about it to think I really ought to go some day. But I’m very familiar with the beaches in New England. They are beautiful and plentiful, and some of them are even places where you might want to get into the water and swim—if you’re exceptionally hardy, that is, and from Canada.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course. Southern (or at least southernish) New England—Block Island in Rhode Island, for example, and parts of Cape Cod—are swimmable in the summer. New Hampshire is sort of on the cusp. But Maine, even the southern part, is not a place for the weak or faint of heart. The water is cold, and suited only to very young and very active local children, who seem impervious to such things, and the aforementioned Canadians, who swarm there in great numbers. To them, these are tropical waters.
When my son was about four years old, a friend of mine came to visit from New York City with her four-year-old. It was summer and it was hot—really really really hot, over 100 degrees. What better place could there be to go than the beach? Unfortunately, the wind must have been blowing the wrong way, because it was just as hot there as it was inland, and you couldn’t step on the sand without footwear or you risked instant burns.
But it was early in the season and the water was still so cold it was almost unendurable—even if you merely dunked your toes in, it was instant freeze-up. My friend’s four-year-old daughter began wailing.
“It’s too hot and then it’s too cold!” she shrieked. “I want to go home!” It was difficult to argue with that; the kid had a point, and we bailed pretty quickly.
It occurs to me that this post might be construed as meant to discourage New England tourism. Hardly. It’s one of the most beautiful, charming, historical areas of the United States. But don’t come expecting to swim in its oceans in June. Unless you’re from Labrador, stick to the lighthouses.