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Finding Your Own Beach

Updated on May 11, 2014
Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin loves nothing so much as a relaxing day at the beach. He is glad to share what wisdom he's learned as a beachgoer with you.

There are lots of nice beaches out there, from Miami to Panama City to Malibu to the islands of Fiji, but the problem with these beaches that everybody knows about is that everybody knows about them. Many of us go on vacations to relax, and sitting rear to rear with other tourists on a beach somewhere while paying extortion level prices on everyday items like water and beach umbrellas is not everyone’s idea of a wonderful time.

But never fear. Just look at a map of the U.S. There are thousands of miles of oceanfront that aren’t in cities, so not only can you find a beach to yourself, it is actually a relatively easy process. In this article I will be giving tips on how to find your very own beach. However, I will not be divulging any of my very own beaches, because they are mine and top secret! You can find your own! You are welcome to try to guess from the photographs, but even if you guess right, I’m not going to confirm it.

If a desolate beach on a budget is your idea of heaven, keep reading.
If a desolate beach on a budget is your idea of heaven, keep reading. | Source

Tips for Finding a Beach of Your Own

The following are just a few good methods to find your own beach.

Internet Search:

When one is using the internet to look for a beach that isn’t populous, it is good to look for certain terms. A few of these terms are “rustic,” “natural,” “primitive,” and “secluded.” Other things to take note of are the populations of the communities where these beaches are located. Believe it or not, some of the most beautiful beaches I have found on my many excursions are in towns of less than 2,000 people.

When looking for lodging, you absolutely want to avoid resort settings. I have done the resort experience before, and I know some of you out there love them, but I hate them with a passion. Let me explain why. Inevitably they charge you for extra services. Sometimes they let you know and sometimes they don’t. For example, they’ll quote you a price for a room only to add a fee on top of it, such as a fee for their exercise room, whether you have any intention of using the exercise room or not.

You go out and sit on one of their beach chairs only to realize they charge $20 dollars a day to use them, something they don’t bother telling you until you’ve already been there a few hours. They boast a “private” beach. Yes, the purpose of this article is to help you find a beach of your own, but oddly enough, in doing this you want to make sure to avoid beaches labeled “private.”

What a private beach means is that the resort has bought a small area of beachfront, piled rocks twenty feet high on either side of it, and expects you and the thousand other guests to make do with it. On top of this, since the beach is not public, the resort is liable for mishaps that occur on it. This means rules on top of rules on how the guests can use this private beach. Rules you can expect to see: no going out on the beach at night, no glass beverage containers, and it goes without mentioning that you can’t have a little fire to sit around.

If you haven’t done it before, one of the most enjoyable experiences one can have on a beach is to sit with someone who is special to you at night, have a small fire of driftwood going, and a cool beverage in hand. I don’t know about you, but my favorite beach beverages come in glass.


And where is this endless, untouched piece of heaven?  I'm sorry.  You'll have to find your own.
And where is this endless, untouched piece of heaven? I'm sorry. You'll have to find your own. | Source

Resorts are also anti-exploration; what I mean by this is that they go out of their way to make it hard to leave. They try to convince you they have everything you need right there, while they charge inordinate prices for average food and other services that can be found at a more reasonable price and performed by more qualified individuals at places nearby, and they have so successfully walled themselves off from other communities that it is hard to get anywhere else.

But I digress, and in truth I could write an entire article about just why you should avoid resorts, but to sum things up, if you want to spend lots of money to be walled up for your whole vacation, price-gouged, and have a room with a bed in it that looks basically like any other room with a bed in it, be my guest, but unless you are staying somewhere that has a criminal element, like areas of Mexico or South America, I can’t see the point.

In trying to find your own little slice of heaven on the beach, the lodging you should look for is that which is cheap, on the ocean, and has a bunch of stars by it and positive reviews. In small communities this is usually a standalone cottage or house. A small cottage that sleeps two in a non-populous community with beautiful beachfront will usually run between $50-60 a night. A house that sleeps 8 will usually run around $150 a night.

In low population oceanfront communities, nice  properties can be rented for less than the price of a hotel room in many busier places.
In low population oceanfront communities, nice properties can be rented for less than the price of a hotel room in many busier places. | Source

Just Drive:

Another really good way to find beaches you pretty much have to yourself is to just get down to a coast, drive along it, and look. Believe it or not, many sleeping accommodations near pristine beaches in small towns don’t require a reservation. It is always nice to have a reservation, but more likely than not, you will be able to find a nice place to stay without making one and at no extra charge.

I realize gas costs a lot of money these days, but driving along a coast gives you the opportunity to see how things look with your own eyes. Yes, the internet is a very helpful tool, but you never really understand how a place is laid out until you’ve been there.

Think of it this way: you're spending money on gas to find a nice place this one time, but if you find a special place, from then on you will know where it is at and can go there for the remainder of your life.

If you're headed to the ocean, consider investing in a new swimsuit.

Ask People but Not Me:

Many people are foolish enough to divulge the location of these beautiful, secluded places on the sea without batting an eyelash. I suppose that is the friendly thing to do, but when I find such a place, I keep it to myself.

When trying to find a nice piece of oceanfront that the rest of the world hasn’t made note of yet, I would recommend getting multiple accounts from people to make sure this is the case. The reason for this is because if you ask me where to go, I will lie and talk up some place I only liked a bit in order to protect the quietude of the places I love. I wouldn’t rule out that many others are capable of such dirty tricks.

Even crossing the street can be a chore in oceanfront cities.  In small towns on the coast, walking is a breeze.
Even crossing the street can be a chore in oceanfront cities. In small towns on the coast, walking is a breeze. | Source

Walk It Out:

If you have the ability, walk things out. Don’t just stare out the car window. If you find a spot that looks promising, put one foot in front of the other and check it out for yourself. Part of the beauty of these small communities is that you can park your car and not deal with the stress of driving it again until you have to leave.

I know that walking isn’t everyone’s idea of relaxation, but in my book, it is one of the most relaxing activities one can do. On top of this, it has the added benefit of saving money and keeping your body healthy. Don’t spend your whole vacation cooped up in a car.

Preferences

What is your preference for a relaxing vacation on the beach?

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Go in the Off-Season:

Many of us have children, and peak tourist season is the only time we can go on vacation, but if you have the freedom to go at other times, lodging is usually a little cheaper and crowds are a little more sparse. In addition, many of the areas near the southern U.S. coast are warm enough to swim at least 9 months out of the year. Personally I find April and May are good times to have a beach experience in these areas and avoid the crowds.

But that being said, many of these small beachfront towns never get particularly busy and prices don’t vary all that much from off-season to peak tourist season. This means you can still have a nice, private getaway on a budget regardless of the time of year.

Dining Tip:

Find places off the beaten path. Yes, sometimes restaurants right on the main drive are excellent, but keep in mind that in a tourist community you can't tell simply by the number of people eating there. On the other hand, a restaurant off the beaten path that is heavily populated by locals is almost sure to be excellent.

The One Major Drawback of Having a Beach to Yourself:

In the heading I said “major” drawback not because it is major to me, but I know it is major to many people. This drawback is shopping. If you like to shop, these small communities don’t usually provide much variety. Go to Miami or L.A. and there are tons of shops to choose from. Go to a small town, and there are usually just a couple of places that provide normal stuff at relatively normal prices.

Although I am not a major shopper, I understand the draw, but I would suggest that for the sake of relaxation it is worthwhile to have a non-shopping vacation from time to time and enjoy places like these.

I would also like to point out that this shopping drawback, in my experience, doesn’t extend to food. There are usually plenty of restaurants to choose from for a week’s vacation, and they are often superior to many of those in major cities. The prices are usually as low as one could expect, but they vary. The seafood is often so fresh and delicious that it is simply indescribable. It is something you have to experience for yourself.

With a little work, you, too, can find a beautiful beach all to yourself.
With a little work, you, too, can find a beautiful beach all to yourself. | Source

Conclusion:

I would like to end by reiterating that there are thousands of miles of coastline in the U.S. and hundreds of Islands just off our shores. No, I did not provide you any specific places to go, but I have given you a good blueprint to find these places on your own. There are thousands of beautiful, secluded beaches in this country that offer every kind of waterfront activity one could ask for. Half the joy is in their discovery, so get out there and find your own beach!

Pros and Cons of Vacationing on a Secluded Beach

Pros
Cons
You can relax more
Not many places to shop
You can walk everywhere
Not as many non-ocean related things to do
You can often have the beach to yourself
No lifeguards on duty
More freedom to do what you want
 
Cheaper food, lodging, travel, etc.
 
More romantic
 
People are friendlier
 
Less chance of being victimized by crime
 
More free activities: parking, sharing food, etc.
 

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    • Larry Rankin profile image
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      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      AliciaC: Thanks for the comments. Everybody likes to shop, or just browse on occasion, but for the sake of relaxation, it is nice to get away from it all on now and again.

    • goodnews11 profile image

      OSBERT JOEL C 3 years ago from CHENNAI

      You gave me valuable tips. I use to visit beaches along with my friends at least twice a month. These tips will really help me. thank you for sharing.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love the quieter, more secluded beaches, too. Thanks for sharing your tips for finding them. I certainly don't mind leaving out the shopping when I'm on vacation!

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Peggy W: Absolutely! With population increase and so many people wanting to live on the coast, I think people just give up on the concept that there are still sleepy little towns on the beach out there, and they are sleepy little towns like any other sleepy little towns. Cheap food, recreation, etc. Thank you so much for the comment.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You have given some good reasons to find our own less well known beaches with more privacy and finding them can be half the fun. They are still out there! Happy hunting!

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      FlourishAnyway: Thanks for the comment. I also think there is more joy in finding your own vacation spot than people realize.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      You're right about keeping them to yourself when you find a good one. They do have a tendency to become overpopulated as people learn about them.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      I love the mountains lakes, too, but the oceans are really my ideal place for relaxation. You'd be better off than the rest of us in a flood, lol. Thanks for the comment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm more of a mountain lake kind of guy, or a nice river to fish in when I get up in the morning, but I know I'm in the minority here. Most people would agree with you and say they love the ocean beaches.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Always Exploring: Thanks so much for your kind words. I've had some simply amazing clams in Florida as well. The best clam chowder I ever had was in a small community around the Gulf.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I enjoyed reading this very much. Your tips are valuable and worth checking out. I love the beach in the summer time. I spent several winters in Fl. My favorite food, shrimp, and they had the best. Thank you. Will tweet for others to read.