Seeking that little bit of extra motivation to push yourself into taking an epic beach trip? Not convinced about all that damn sand? Passionate about pitching on the coast and simply want to hear its praises sung?
Read on. With the end of summer approaching, we’ve decided to explore what it is that makes the beach such a perfect destination, in homage to the great trips our readers have taken or might soon take!
1. IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Yeah, yeah, no one likes to be preached to, we’d rather just have a good time. The good thing about the beach is you can have a good time and boost your health, without making any special effort.
That can’t be too much of a bad thing – after all, with the increasing innovation we’re seeing in camper trailers, it might not be too long before they’re coming with deep-friers or in-built McDonalds franchises.
Footy clubs often head to the dunes pre-season for a wake-up call, because the shifting surfaces underfoot activate obscure muscles and make the body work harder to gain ground. Whether or not you are aiming to make the list at the Kangas, you’ll reap the benefits of sand exercise, just by walking around camp or playing tag with the kids. You’ll probably be engaged in all sorts of water-based activities too, which will speed up the BPM and perhaps entice you to tense your pecs in the vanity mirror at night. Not to mention all that Vitamin D from the sun, which will help you absorb the calcium from the ice coffee you had over lunch.
By the end of the day you’ll be knackered, which bodes well for a thorough, healthy sleep. So too does the sound of the ocean, that, for once, is coming from the ocean and not a CD player. It’s commonly acknowledged to be relaxing, and there’s a science behind it too; our brains interpret the continuous and gentle sound of water as non-threatening, and the presence of non-threatening sounds, as opposed to harsh and sudden ones, gives us the neurological green light to relax and be calm. Not to mention that it drowns out the noises of lurking crocodilians and dingoes.
2. IT INCREASES YOUR ODDS OF CATCHING FISH
Your uncle Pete, returning empty-handed from the stream, may tell you that fishing is more about relaxing than actually catching anything. But we all know that this is simply a doomed effort at covering up his failures. Realistically, fishing is about catching fish. And when it comes to catching fish, patience is key.
The more time you spend with your bait in the water, the greater your chances of plucking up a fish. That’s a principle we see reflected again and again in the desperate attempts of disgruntled fathers to stop their youngsters from casting every two minutes; just as we see it in the angler’s full-body relaxation into the deepest depths of their camp chair, as if to say, “I am in this for the long run.”
If you are staying at the caravan park down the road, or even further inland, you simply can’t fish for the same amount of time; you can head to the beach, sure, but you and the family will inevitably want to return to camp, in order to unwind, have dinner, and save yourself from packing up in the dark. Whereas, when you’re staying on the beach, you can fish 24/7. Simply set up a rod holder or PVC pipe in the sand, equip your rod tip with a bell or glow sticks, and you’re away.
3. IT’S PERFECT FOR BONFIRES
Fire. Somewhere, long ago, a person rubbing two sticks together, and then, a spark, a revelation. Fire is still a huge revelation for many of us today, filling us with the same fascination experienced by that early man; and there’s no better place to experience this anew than at the beach
Compared to other surfaces, such as dirt or clay (or worse, concrete), it’s superbly easy to dig a nice deep firepit in sand, without flaring up the sciatica. Once the fire is up and running, preferably not on driftwood (which can make for beautiful colours but exhale toxic smoke), you will be as safe as it’s possible to be around a bonfire – thanks to the endless source of water nearby and all the sand with which to suffocate any errant flames.
When you layer the crackling, mesmerising fire over the gently crashing waves, you have the recipe for ultimate relaxation. We all know this, from experience, but what we mightn’t know is that staring at a fire actually reduces blood pressure. Scientists with lab coats and steaming test tubes speculate that natural selection is responsible; in the loincloth days of yore, those who enjoyed spending time around the fire were more prone to survive, because it meant they were more tied in with social circles; hence, in theory, the fire-loving gene was able to pass on.
4 IT’S A PARADISE FOR YOUNGSTERS
Only a select few have ever asked ‘what is there to do?’ at the beach. The sand and the water combine to form an ideal playground for adults and children alike. Body boarding, swimming, kayaking, making sandcastles, tonking a perfectly executed beach cricket 50 – you name it, the beach is the appropriate place. Obviously, staying at the beach beats staying inland because of the continuous access it gives you to this environment.
So fun is a major element. But so to are the opportunities for children to pursue their curiosity and learn about the world, all the while having a good time in a relaxed and lighthearted outdoor setting that’s a lot more inviting than the rigours of the classroom. Mrs Morris isn’t around to traumatise their brains with long division.
Instead, you’ll go beachcombing together and the specimens you find will spike the curiosity of youngsters, giving you the chance to riff about the underwater world and establish in them a respectful approach towards wildlife and nature.
As you walk down the beach, you can introduce them to the world’s geographical machinations, such as erosion and the tides. Perhaps best of all, you can step out of the camper at night and experience the night sky together. All sorts of questions might come your way, about how it all works, about why the stars twinkle, about why they can only see half of the moon. Be ready.
5. YOU CAN MAKE THE MOST OF THE GOLDEN HOUR
The best times of day to experience the beach are sunrise and sunset. Photographers know this; they refer to the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset as the ‘golden hours’, a moniker that reflects their successes during this limited time slot.
The golden hue during these hours is one of the reasons it’s so perfect for pictures, but it’s status as photo o’clock runs a lot deeper than that, too.
During this period, the sun is closer to the horizon, which means it has to travel more indirectly to you, throughout more atmosphere, compared to the brutally direct line it takes during the day. As a result, the light is more diffuse and even, the illumination less blinding and shadows less pitch. That lets your camera expose correctly, by avoiding gates-of-heaven overexposure and endless-night underexposure.
Forgetting all that technical hoo-hah, and whether or not you carry a camera, these dusk and dawn hours still make for ideal visuals.
You can, realistically, experience these times without staying at the beach. But are you really going to get up for that 5am alarm, pack up camp, and head to the shore from some inland spot in order to experience sunrise? Know thyself. The motivation you had at 11pm the night before tends to fade when sleep is still crusted over your eyes and you aren’t awake enough to hold a spoon the right way.
And are you really capable of watching the sunset, in a calm mental state, knowing the roos will be out to play on the road home after dark?
Best to just walk right out of your camper and see it!
6. YOU CAN KEEP THINGS ECONOMICAL
Unlike in other places, you don’t have to expend more energy than a large-scale plastics factory when staying on the beach. First of all, the weather tends to be cooler. That’s because water, which has a big impact on the temperature of the surrounding land, doesn’t change its heat as easily as land does. The wind helps in keeping the merc low too, because it can howl unobstructed over the ocean for long distances, cooling down on the way.
Add to this the fact you can cool down by swimming, and you’re a genuine candidate for hypothermia. In any case, you won’t have to sap your camper’s reserves running fans or urgently cooling Zooper Doopers in the fridge/freezer. You can also save on showers too, just by scrubba dubbing in the surf. Finally, you will save on time and petrol by not having to drive to the beach, again and again, from some other spot you’re staying – because, inevitably, the beach is where we’re drawn anyway.
Not only is there less power going out, there’s more coming in. The lack of trees means the solar panel cops more sunlight; regardless of where the sun shifts, there’s nothing high to cast shade upon it.
All of this ultimately means you can spend longer doing what you love, postponing the inevitable trip back to the grid to plug yourself and your camper in for a recharge.