It’s that time of the year, when it has turned unbearably cold in Virginia and I’m dreaming of sun and sand. Chris and I don’t tend to try to get away to the islands during our winter months because we typically use our free time to play in the snow, but right now we’re at the point where it’s bitterly cold without any snow. When that happens, I turn my daydreams toward beaches. Thankfully I can look back on my images of sandy shorelines, and look forward to island trips ahead (Mexico is calling our name this year)! So on that note, here are some of my most favorite beach photos from the past several years. It’s the closest to beach therapy I can get at the moment!
Outer Banks, NC
Would you believe the first time I remember ever going to the beach wasn’t until I was twenty years old? I grew up in land-locked Missouri and Colorado, and when I lived in Texas we were a good five hours from any sandy coastlines. My family took plenty of vacations, but not to the beach, so it wasn’t a familiar sight to me when I went on my first trip to the Outer Banks with Chris. It has taken me many many years to get used to the water, but this first trip to Corolla will always be special to me.
A few years later Chris and I found ourselves on Oahu for a conference. Despite my adventurous nature and love for exploring, I still harbored a pretty serious fear of ocean creatures at this point. So after seeing a sign on Waikiki Beach warning swimmers not to go in the water due to jellyfish swarms, that was it for me. I didn’t get in the water the entire trip! But I enjoyed gazing at the water from a distance, and of course I took pictures of the enchanting colors. These photos are actually from our return trip to Oahu in 2008 for a friend’s wedding.
St. John, USVI
When Chris’s dad invited us to spend a week with him on St. John, it began our love affair with the island and we ended up returning two more times after that. I don’t have photos of my favorite beach, Cinnamon Bay (where we went for a short snorkel before a sting ray freaked me out), but I do have a photo of one of the most photographed beaches in the Virgin Islands. Trunk Bay is the one that shows up most frequently on postcards from St. John. I snapped this photo on our third visit after a tropical storm had just visited the island.
And it’s easy to get that view of Trunk Bay – there is a road that passes by overlooking the beach, and there’s plenty of room to pull off for a photo op!
Virgin Gorda, BVI
Without meaning to, I turned this post into a timeline of my ocean phobia, but this day trip to Virgin Gorda (from Tortola) was a huge turning point for me. Chris talked me into getting in the water at The Baths because he knew I’d be crazy about the cute, brightly colored fish. Sure enough, I put my face in the water to see a school of blue tangs trailing nearby, and it was enough to make my fears melt away. I’ve been more and more curious about the sea ever since.
Smuggler’s Cove on Tortola is still one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. Being able to see everything around me is key to my comfort while swimming, and the crystal-clear water at Smuggler’s Cove put me right at ease.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
By the time we booked a trip to Grand Cayman in 2014, I was ready to go all-in with snorkeling, diving, and playing with sting rays in the water. We missed the chance to dive on this trip, but we did get to see some stunning beaches. Seven Mile Beach and Starfish Point stand out in my mind as favorite stretches of sand on the island.
When you think of Iceland you probably don’t think of beaches, but our visit to the shores of Vik was my first sighting ever of dramatic black sand.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
This long, narrow island in Belize isn’t typically known for its beaches, but we did enjoy the little strip of beach outside our villa on Ambergris Caye.
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Even though this beach wasn’t really swimmable, Chris, my sister, my brother-in-law, and I loved the view from our villa in Vieques along the northern shore.
Speaking of unswimmable beaches, Chris and I had a great time exploring the rocky coastline of Ireland when we stopped at Derrynane Beach off the Ring of Kerry. It was too cold to even dip a toe in the water while we were there (and signs warn visitors not to swim there due to strong currents), but it was beautiful to photograph.
Islay, United Kingdom
Last but not least, one of my favorites of the favorites: Saligo Bay on the Isle of Islay in Scotland. I just didn’t realize we would find such pretty beaches in Scotland, but lo and behold they’re all over, and here is one of them.
Even thinking about beaches that are too chilly for swimming makes me feel warmer on this blustery day in Virginia. I’m hoping to add some more shoreline images to my collection this year with a visit to Isla Mujeres, and I’m hoping even more that we have warm, sunny weather while we’re there. Something to look forward to, for sure!