RHYS BOWEN: I have just returned from a vacation in Europe that included two weeks on a secluded bay in Corfu, a Greek island. Two weeks of doing very little except for sitting on my balcony reading, eating at bayside tavernas and lying in the warm waters of the Ionian sea. To make it more special our apartment belonged to the White House, which was where Laurence Durrell lived in the 1930s and where he wrote Prospero's Cell. Everything was perfect except the beach was stony, not sandy.
So I realize I am being very picky but I started to wonder whether I had ever been to a perfect beach and what a perfect beach should look like.I once saw what I thought was a perfect beach near Darwin in northern Australia. But nobody was on it. I asked a park ranger whether it was okay to go swimming there. "Of course you can," she replied, "If you don't mind the sharks, the crocodiles or the jelly fish."
Okay, there are certain things the perfect beach shouldn't have. Sharks, crocodiles and jelly fish for starters.
But what should it have?
Clean water, for one thing. I went snorkeling on the island of Bali and was horrified to find so many plastic bags caught up on the coral.
It should be sandy. Have warm water. Some shade on hot days. A bar or cafe for moments of thirst. And not be crowded
.My contenders: the beach on Whitsunday Island, Queensland. Pure white sand. Tree lined. Only the occasional monitor lizard to make it scary.
Hanauma Bay on Oaha used to be a favorite until it became a national park and is now crowded with newby snorkelers.
The beach at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland is another favorite. Unfortunately my brother moved away, so I don't go there any more.
In Europe a little beach outside Nice (which is stony). It's called the Baie des Fourmies and is pretty darned nice.But in the US? California ocean water is all too cold for me. Some Florida beaches are contenders. Naples was nice but no shade.
So I'm open to suggestions:
What does your perfect beach have to have and where is it?
HALLIE EPHRON: I'm a California girl and spent summers body surfing in Malibu and Manhattan Beach, so those are still my perfect beaches. Broad white sand and wave after perfect wave that you can swim in front of, get picked up by, and carried forward so just your head sticking out as you coast onto the shore. Hold onto your bathing suit top.
LUCY BURDETTE: I was imprinted on the beach near Hatteras, NC, which is the end part of the Outer Banks. We went every summer and spent hours roasting on the sand, and swimming--big rollers usually, and a perfect cool temperature. We'd be out there floating in the salt water and game would be to call out whether each wave was an "over" or an "under." The overs you could float over the top. The unders would grind you into the sand if you didn't dive through them. And the dunes are stunning too, planted with sea oats.
Several families would go at the same time and we'd have enormous games of kick the can and pounce at night. Wonderful memories, gorgeous beach.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, yeah. Out of the US? Easy. Easy! Nevis. It is..white sand. Turquoise water. EMPTY. The beaches are so unpopulated, they don't even have names. We named the one we go to, though. (Cleverly.) Beautiful Beach. Which says it all. There are palm trees, and we sit and read and watch the pelicans fly and soar and pounce, then shake their little tailfeathers when they catch a fish. My idea of a perfect beach is peaceful. This photo is Nevis--but it's very faded. Just up the chroma to intense blue and white..and that's it!
In the US? Truro on Cape Cod. We go to the bay beach, and it is gorgeous.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Rhys, so jealous I am green. Sigh. Especially since we haven't taken a beach vacation in longer than I even want to admit... I didn't grow up going to the beach. Dallas is a LONG way from beaches, and my parents were into golf courses, not beaches. (Sighs again...) But there have been beaches that stood out. We stayed at a lovely place at the tip of Cozumel. White sand, palms, little rush huts to protect you from the sun, clear blue water that was lovely for snorkling off the beach if you didn't mind the friendly barracuda that hung out occasionally. But my favorite was a beach in Puerto Rico. Empty (this was years ago, mind) with lovely sand and palms AND the best thing was the hammocks strung between the palm trees... Beach, hammock, book=heaven.
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Not a well-known place, but the Canadian shore of Lake Erie is fantastic and where I went during the summer with friends while growing up in Buffalo, New York. These days, the family and I love the beaches of Narragansett, Rhode Island — which seems to be overlooked by tourists who opt for the Hamptons or the Cape (shhhhhh....). A day at the beach, then a lobster roll at Aunt Carrie's (now in its 95th year and going strong) — can't be beat.
And outside of the US, the beaches of the west coast of Scotland are beautiful, especially near Arisaig. (Yes, beaches in Scotland! No, I'm not joking!) The water is warmer than you might expect, thanks to a Gulf current passing by and the beaches are fine white sand and gorgeous! You may spot a seal!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Rhys, if you think California water is too cold, the Atlantic Ocean off the Maine coast would kill you! I want to propose a different kind of perfect beach: Old Orchard Beach, located in its eponymous town in southern Maine. It's a throwback to the old vacation beaches of the east coast: a seven-mile-long golden-sand beach with a century-old Boardwalk extending out into the ocean; an inexpensive, small scale amusement park, candy stores and ice cream stores and t-shirt shops in between art galleries and Italian sausage stands. It's definitely not about lounging in the sands with a cocoanut-flavored drink, but if you want to sample an old-fashioned all-American summer, you have to try it.
I met Jessie Crockett, whom many of you know from Crimebake, and in 2016 she's going to have a mystery set in 19th century OOB coming out. So I know what will be in my beach bag when I go there next summer!
RHYS: So there you have it. Our favorite beaches. Which is yours?