“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.”
– Robert Henri
The first time I ever glimpsed the ocean was at the age of 13. I was born and raised in the Midwest – Iowa, to be exact. I was fortunate enough to travel growing up, but our vacations were never far. My first ocean experience was the shore of New Jersey – not the most glamorous area, and all I could remember was being mad that I was dragged on this vacation away from my friends (I was a teenager, of course) and being stung by a jellyfish. In my view, there was nothing exhilarating or exciting about the churning waters and accompanying sea life to be discovered both in the water and on shore. I saw the Adriatic Sea at 16 with my mom on a religious trip; while beautiful, I was still a teenager pouting about spending her trip being escorted around. Ugh, I wish I could take some of that thinking back! How many people visit Europe as a teenager? Unfortunately, my view did not change at 18 when I was in Florida to visit the husband at his training school. It was November, and even Florida is a little chilly during that time of year. It was pretty, but nothing to be fascinated with. Water is water, right?
As I grew older and experienced more of the world, my thoughts on the ocean and the beach changed. I returned to Florida for a family vacation at 20, and I loved the aqua color of the water and watching a tiny Anya catch minnows and crabs with my mom. I loved the beaches of Italy, all of them different and unique. These were calmer waters with many restaurants and amenities near the shore; the girls and I could spend whole days there without even getting in the water. I found the sound of the waves very calming and peaceful. My children found so much joy in just being in the water, and sand was one of Addie’s first sensory challenges she overcame. The beach in Holland was so different – very open and untainted by human interaction. I began to appreciate the beauty of the vast, open expanses of water. In summary, I began to fall in love with the oceans and seas as I experienced more and more of them.
Now that we are living in Hawaii, this love has only grown. I have never lived anywhere so accessible to the water. We live in the middle of the island of Oahu, but every shore is within 20-45 minutes away. It is as simple as throwing some towels in the car and navigating a parking spot. I used to feel so overwhelmed with the idea of beach days with 4 kids – hauling all the stuff, watching all the kids, entertaining them while trying to relax myself, and getting their sandy bodies back home sounded too exhausting to even attempt. However, it is surprisingly easy for us! We take our suits, grab whatever toys and snacks we can fit in our huge beach bag, and go. If we stay for only a half hour, so what? If the kids get sand in every crevice of their body, it will be okay. If we go and decide to just sit and watch the waves, that is just as good as a swim would be. I love the smell of the water, the sound of the waves breaking into the shoreline, the feel of sand in your toes, and the smiles of my children as they explore and swim.
The reason we go and love going is simply because we have grown to love the beach and the ocean. It is affordable, it is consistently entertaining, and it is never the same experience each time. Every beach on Oahu is different, and there are different reasons to love or hate each one. I like the people of the North Shore and watching the surfers, but I love the beauty of the east side beaches of Kailua and Lanikai. The beaches in the south like Waikiki are more popular with tourists and crowded, but there are plenty of places to eat and relax. The west side has less crowded beaches, especially past Waianae, and gorgeous views, with darker water and tour boats everywhere! Hawaii’s beaches can offer nearly everything, and I’ve only experienced just one island (we will see some of the others!).
There is something so impressive about oceans and seas. The world is actually more water than land; looking out into the water and watching it spread out across the horizon, you feel small in comparison. I always feel a sense of calm as I sit on the sand and watch the waves. There is something very soothing about the constant swells and crashes of the waves and water, controlled by nature and unchanging. Yes, that sounds very philosophical, but it is. The sun shines on my face, the waves calm me, and my children are entertained; what is there not to love?
I know not all people share my growing love with the sea, but I encourage everyone to experience it at least once. Perhaps you need multiple trips to fully appreciate it, as I did, or perhaps you will never grow to love beaches and oceans. As for myself, I continue to reap the benefits of living here in Hawaii and enjoying all that they have to offer.
“To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim, the rocks, the motion of the waves, the ships with men in them. What stranger miracles are there?”
– Walt Whitman