I have two recent travel memories that revolve around the beach in different destinations.
A Return Visit to Dubai
In 2016, I took a trip to Dubai, UAE. I used to live in Dubai before I immigrated to Canada in the early 2000s so this was meant to be a trip down memory lane. As a child, I used to love going to the beach in Dubai with my family and I could not wait to return. To my surprise, I hardly recognized where I was as the city had changed so much. Instead of being a blast from the past, the trip to Dubai was like visiting a completely new city. There was so much urbanization with skyscrapers, condominiums, office buildings, and grand malls.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed being a tourist and exploring all the top tourist attractions including the Burj Khalifa (one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers), the Dubai Fountain, the Souk Market (Dubai’s famous gold market), the man-made Palm Islands, the Dubai Mall with its own aquarium built inside, and the Mall of the Emirates with its own mini ski slope.
However, the beach was just as I remembered it. Beautiful soft sand, clear blue salty water…yep! The beach was still as beautiful, clean, and relaxing as it had always been. It was also very busy! Though the main area of the beach had many sports cars driving around with their loud engines, there are several quieter spots where families, friends, and couples come to enjoy their sunny days. My trip took place in March and the weather was pleasant. However, in the summer months, it can get quite hot so escaping to the beach is a popular activity for locals and tourists.
Seals in the Galapagos Islands
In 2018, I travelled to the Galapagos Islands. I did a 7-day cruise along the eastern islands and I must say, the wildlife and nature is breathtaking. The Galapagos Islands have many beaches with different types of sand or pebbles/rocks and each island has different types of wildlife that you can see basking in the sun on the beach. However, not every island has a beach.
The water is so clear that snorkelling is a popular activity when visiting the islands. The sea life is not only colourful, but also very active with various species of fish, coral, turtles, and, if you’re lucky, penguins. There are only four islands that have human inhabitants so a cruise is the best way to tour all the different Galapagos Islands and many itineraries offer beach time during your visit on each individual island. The animals that do reside on the islands are used to having human visitors and are very friendly hosts.
When I spent time basking in the sun on the beach, or cooling off in the water, I encountered many birds, iguanas, and sea lions or as they were more affectionately called in our cruise group, lobos marinos (sea lion in Spanish). They all went about their business and I would say I was more curious about them then they were about me.
I also have a couple honourable mentions:
Brighton Pier and Brighton Beach
While many visitors go to England and only stay in London, I highly recommend visiting Brighton, a city in Southern England, which is a beautiful beach destination for locals and tourists. Brighton Pier reminded me of Santa Monica Pier and the beach side has lots of little shops and restaurants. The city of Brighton itself is rich with history and is jam packed with fun activities for all ages. In addition to the beach and the pier, you can take a trip up the British i360 tower to get a 360° view of the city or visit the historical Royal Pavilion, a former royal residence.
Wellness in Finland
If you ever take a trip to Finland, take advantage of their saunas. The Finns own more saunas than they do cars. Wellness is a big part of their lifestyle and there’s no better way to unwind from a long day or hectic week than by spending some time in a sauna. No matter where you visit in Finland, be it the capital city of Helsinki, or up north in Lapland, saunas are plentiful and encouraged.