Barack Obama has the right idea. When he’s in need of R&R, he decamps to Kailua Beach, about a 30-minute drive northeast of Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. I have only had the pleasure of spending a single afternoon on Kailua, in January 2016, but I can tell you with certainty: It’s the bomb.
Of course, we all have our favorite beaches—those we return to time and again, and those we only revisit in our memories. I asked JCK’s editors and publisher to tell me about the one beach they love most. If you find yourself near any of these seaside idylls this summer, perhaps you’ll want to add one to your list?
Curtain Bluff, Antigua
When I have trouble sleeping, my mind drifts to memories of my visits to Antigua at the award-winning Curtain Bluff resort. There are two beaches: On one side is a gorgeously rustic stretch of Atlantic coastline, and you stare out at it while having breakfast on your balcony or let the pounding surf lull you to sleep at night. The other end of the property is situated on the Caribbean Sea, and it offers a tranquil, jade-green lagoon, perfect for swimming. You can spend the entire the day lounging under a palapa—staff magically appear with cool towels, bottled water, and frothy piña coladas. At high noon. What could be better?
Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
In college, I worked at a hotel gift shop on the beach and would go for long walks in the sand when my shift was up. It was where my husband (then boyfriend) and I would spend a lot of our time, so it’s extra special when we go back for a visit every now and again.
Folly Beach, S.C.
I love Folly Beach on Folly Island in South Carolina, just south of Charleston. It stretches roughly 1,000 feet to the ocean and it’s ideal for families with small kids because of the tidal pools that form; they essentially create warm little kiddie pools. It’s a beautiful, natural, wild slice of seaside!
Rehobeth Beach, Del.
It’s not the prettiest spot, and there are the lights and buildings of bigger coastal towns in the distance, but it’s a truly charming East Coast beach town (part of the “I’m going down the shore” culture). On a hot day, with the cold Atlantic, it’s a super-restorative experience of heat, sun, bracing water, wind, etc.
Best of all are the umbrella and chair rental stands where each street hits the beach. They feature old-school, heavy canvas umbrellas and chairs that you simply grab and set up. Eventually, a high school kid drops by to collect $10. There’s something wonderfully innocent and trusting about the system and it just makes you feel relaxed and at ease. And the shade those wonderful old umbrellas throw means you can comfortably spend the whole day on the sand. Delightful.
Longboat Key, Fla.
While every other sun seeker in Sarasota, Fla.—and across the country—is scrounging for towel space on the much-ballyhooed Siesta Beach, you can find me about 20 miles to the north, enjoying the relative seclusion of Longboat Key. Truthfully, there’s not a bad beach to be found in Sarasota. But I love the more serene Longboat, especially in May and October when it’s the least crowded. (And the sand just as sugary-fine and pillowy-soft as Siesta!) After sunset, take a drive to nearby St. Armands Circle, and grab dinner at Columbia Restaurant, where the mojitos are strong and the Cuban bread is always fresh.
San Clemente Pier Beach, Calif.
Between my junior and senior years at UCLA, my surfer friend Jeannie and I moved to San Clemente, Calif., at the southern edge of Orange County, for the summer. We interned during the week—I worked at the San Diego Union-Tribune in nearby Oceanside, while Jeannie temped at Surfer magazine in Dana Point—and frolicked at the beach on weekends. The stretch of sand that surrounds the city’s beloved pier is Southern California at its most idyllic: wide and scenic with fantastic views of the local surfers hanging 10. Anytime I drive from my home in Los Angeles to GIA’s campus in Carlsbad, I’ll stop for lunch at The Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar on the pier. Nothing beats a bucket of steamed clams on the patio. You can feel the sea spray as the surf pounds the pylons beneath you.
The Beach Boys
Not a beach person but love The Beach Boys. Here are my favorite summer songs from them: