Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sea bath

To this displaced trini, Summer means only one thing, salt, and lots of it. My island heritage practically demands that I soak in sea water twice a month; this temperate Georgia climate and its geographic isolation however, make such goals a tad bit difficult to achieve.

Panama City Beach, Florida
The nearest body of salt water to Atlanta is the Atlantic Ocean via Savannah, Georgia; a four hour drive away.

Imagine having to drive 4 hours each time you wanted Richards.

Or perhaps only being allowed to go Maracas 6 months out of any given year....exactly, you'd kill yourself. 

Better yet, imagine a world where the only "beaches" within an hour's drive, were man-made beaches, on freshwater, man-made lakes with trucked in beach sand......unreal.

But this is the world we Atlanta-based trinis endure. I take it you noticed I said the nearest beach is 4 hours away. Notice I didn't say nearest "good" beach. 

As popular as Savannah's Tybee Island is among Georgia residents, it's waters are a cloudy green, brackish brown, similar to taking a sea bath in Icacos or Guayaguyare, with nearly as much driving, just without the bad roads. 

For Store Bay-esque beaches, one needs to leave Georgia entirely and venture further south. Miami predictably is Florida's most popular beach, but is easily a ten hour drive away (3 fill-ups in each direction.....hell no). For Atlantans, the pleasures or north-west Florida and coastal Alabama are only 5 to 7 hours drive away.

 Panama City Beach is tops on my list of absolute favourite beaches. With the right combination of distance (1 tank),  drive time (4.5 hours) and a varied mix of additional things to do, PCB as it's affectionately known, can't be beat.

Destin, Florida.......heaven on earth. 
The list is extensive: deep sea fishing, parasailing, mini golf, water park, Gulf World (think SeaWorld), theme park rides, go-carting, and of course just simply laying on the beach.

For all these reasons, it's practically impossible to get a room there during the Summer, not unless you plan on spending the rent money on two nights. 

Another popular beach option for Atlanta residents is Destin, another hour west of PCB. Unlike Panama City which I do every Summer, this was my first trip to Destin. Amenities abound as the city offers nearly as broad a range of activities as Panama City but also includes an outlet shopping plaza (because on occasion I do vacation with women) and calmer, far more pristine waters than I'd ever seen at PCB. Honestly, the water was so clear I could see each of my toes wiggling on the sandy bottom in 4 feet of water.

It's a pity that Caribbean expats are forced to travel so great a distance for a commodity that most of us lived barely 30 minutes from. But this is the life we've chosen and as such, can't justify complaining about. Honestly, to make this really work, all that's needed now is a decent bake and shark, two doubles vendors and a parlour on a corner and it'll be just like home.


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