“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
― Maya Angelou, from Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
Take Me to the Ocean
When my husband and I lived in New Orleans, many weekends, we drove past the swamps and murky coastlines in search of a beautiful beach. We had almost no money, but scraped together enough to pay for the gas to venture there and back in one day, wherever there would be.
We found the first nice beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama, and then Ft. Walton, Pensacola, and Destin, Florida. But to find a calmer, less touristy beach, we ventured even further. That was when we found what we loved, paradise.
In the less known area where the local highway 30 splits to 30A, that is where the beaches are the world’s most beautiful. The road becomes a two-lane, no stop lights kind of scenic road which seems to take eons to drive even a mile. Grayton Beach, Water Color and Seaside resort communities, Seagrove Beach, and then Seacrest, line up along the Emerald Coast, a dazzling stretch of powdered sugar white beaches and a shimmering aqua coastline.
It is a quiet stretch where only two highrise condominium towers (there before the zoning) disrupt the horizon, where shells are impossible to find (the beach is so clean), and the sun seems to forever shine.
For years before my family and I moved to Europe, we made the annual trek from the Midwest to the beaches along 30A. It became the one big vacation we all looked forward to taking, for the free time spent soaking up the sand and sun and pristine waters together.
In Europe, we found our own different piece of beach paradise along the coast of Tuscany, in Italy. It also was perfect, but in different ways — for the local cheeses, olives, and wine, for traveling into Rome by train, for the vacant beach and stunning view of the Mediterranean and the miles of darker water, coarser sand, and loads of shells the colors of the Tuscan sunsets. It, too, was paradise.
We saw other beaches all around Europe, from the southern tip of Sweden at Sandhammeren on the Baltic Sea to the stunning rocky coasts of Croatia and Montenegro, to the muddy flats of Belgium and Netherlands along the North Sea, the beauty along Barcelona’s beaches to the Italian Riviera. They were all beautiful, but none compared to the Florida beaches along the Panhandle along 30A.
The World’s Most Beautiful Beach:
The most amazing part about the beaches along 30A in Florida is that they are accessible, affordable, and for much of the USA, a tank of gas away.
TripAdvisor has its exclusive list of the world’s top 25 beaches, and CNN.com has its own list of the top 100 beaches in the world. CNN lists the beaches at Panama City, Florida, as #51 — they are only minutes from the tranquility found along Florida’s 30A.
I’d love to someday travel to Bora Bora, to the Seychelles, and to Turks and Caicos, but until then, I’m enjoying a family budget friendly vacation at the World’s Most Beautiful Beach next door, in road-trip worthy, family-friendly Florida.
Where is your favorite beach? And, if you have a large family, where is your go-to place to relax and spend time together?