You can tell you’re getting closer to the beach once the pedestrians you pass are wearing fewer and fewer articles of clothing. Suddenly, shirtless men abound, and loose T-shirts ending just below the backside are all girls need to throw on top of their bikinis. This perfectly toned, tanned, scantily clad image of surfers and babes is what the world sees when they think “California.” After all, Katy Perry sang about “Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top!” So it must be true.
Well, a lot of the time it is — at least, in what we real California girls like to call SoCal. When you say you’re going to the beach, most of the time it’s pertinent to ask, “Which one?” Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Venice Beach? I have three other ones within pretty close proximity of my home alone, not to mention the ones a bit farther out that my family and I visit less often. I’m one of those odd creatures who doesn’t actually enjoy sand-crusted feet and saltwater sticking to my skin, but it’s still somehow comforting to have the beach nearby. It’s nice to have the option of going, even if it’s just once in a while.
What I love best about our beaches is that you don’t have to be in a bathing suit to have a good time, despite what popular songs tell us. You can just walk along the boardwalk or take a picnic and eat by the water. You can duck into different shops nearby — not to buy things but just to look at what they have. At Laguna Beach, my all-time favorite in So Cal, there are countless shops and eateries near the sand and water to explore. You can marvel at handmade trinkets, admire animals and flowers made entirely of wood or step into one of many art galleries to see which paintings and sculptures are on display. You could buy some too, but as a student on a budget, I abstain from splurging on more than the occasional candy apple.
There at the shore, there’s no hurry to go anywhere, nothing you need to check off your grocery list. True, most people there are either in weekend mode or vacation mode — hence the location. But overall, there seems to be some transformation people undergo as they approach the shoreline. It becomes time to put on the shades and kick back in the sun with a good book in your hand. Sure, traffic can still be horrendous, and parking is a hassle, especially with disgruntled officers prowling the streets checking meters. But where else can you find people also going to work in flip flops and Bermuda shorts?
There may be water up north (it is the Bay Area, after all), but it just doesn’t compare to SoCal spots. The Bay Area has an entirely different atmosphere. I’ve never been able to pinpoint exactly why I prefer one over the other, but the air just seems to change depending on where you are. And even if you do manage to find a nice beach near Berkeley, can it really compare to those near the O.C.? Come on, try going down to the Berkeley Marina after seeing Venice Beach, and tell me it’s the same. You may get a nice glimpse of the water, but it most definitely will not be the same experience.
Contact Erum Khan at [email protected]