As a person who grew up by the ocean, longed for the city, and then moved to the city only to long for the beach – I consider myself uniquely qualified to answer the burning question of which is best. So I will.
*Spoiler alert* the answer is both. Life’s a beach baby, we’re just swimming in it. But also I refuse to give up the fun and accessibility of city living. Please continue on for my points and indisputable proof, because I’m always right.
Take the Gold Coast, for example. It’s actually a city – a bigger one than Canberra – and yet it remains so mellow thanks to its beaches. I was there for a long weekend not long ago and it was nothing like what I remember from being a kid. My friend, who was visiting for the first time, was legit ready to pack his bags and move there. He couldn’t stop rambling about how zen it was. The man was vibing hard.
What’s so different? Let’s start with traffic. Not even actual cars either, though we all know city traffic during peak hour is an actual nightmare and there isn’t a playlist alive that can ease the pain. However, as a person who doesn’t own a car, I’m talking about the nightmare that is smooshing yourself into an already packed train. The body heat, the people who won’t bloody move, not having anything to hold on to: it’s the worst.
So won’t that be the same in a beach city, you cry? No, is the simple answer. A real, legit beach city has such ~ chill ~ vibes that you can’t help but relax into them, even when you’re only there for a weekend. Not to mention there are just fewer people so you’re not throwing elbows just to get through the crowds.
Can we also talk about the pure bliss that is water sports? Despite having grown up by the beach, I didn’t try my hand at surfing until a few years ago – long into my city-dwelling days. Turns out I REALLY love it and am now sad for my misspent youth.
Even if surfing isn’t your particular jam, there’s stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, wind-surfing, boogie boarding, also just swimming. Swimming is still a really good time. If you want to swim on a hot day in the city you have to pay money to plop into a crowded pool with an 80% chance that a baby’s floater is about to drift past. Or spend at least an hour on a sweaty, crowded bus (see above for my traffic argument). That does not happen in cities where a multitude of beaches are easily accessible.
If you’re sitting there thinking ‘but the big cities just have more to do’ – yeah, you’re wrong. Stop that. Since the invention of ‘the hipster’ (bless them all), amazing restaurants and cafes, super cool local artists and designers are everywhere.
Sorry to use the Gold Coast again, but honestly have you been there lately? In terms of a city meets beach paradise, I was actually shook (in the best of ways) by the number of art collectives, boutique stores, craft lessons, locally-focused galleries and more that the Goldie has now. Not to mention trendy bars and delish brunches.
I have to tell you, I did a lot more here in one weekend than I’ve done in months back home.
All this to say, why can’t we have both? Because we actually really can. I would move to a city adjacent beach in a heartbeat but failing that, please let me spend all my vacays there.Image: The Beach