beaches

A Free Library on the Beach

You know how much I love the beach.

And you know how much I love shelves that facilitate free book-sharing.

So it’s no surprise that I love this: beach-library-albena books-libraryThe Beach Library is located in front of Hotel Kaliakra in Albena, Bulgaria, a resort area on the Black Sea. It has more than 6,000 books in 15 languages. German architect Herman Kompernas designed it so visitors could easily share and enjoy books while on vacation. A nice touch: the shelves are weather-proof.

Now that’s my kind of beach. Can I go there, now?

(Image via Goodreads)

Loredo and the Caves of Monte Castillo

On our fourth day in Spain, we left the Bilbao area and headed west to Asturias. We’d heard great things about that part of the country: that it was one of Spain’s greenest regions, with gorgeous landscapes and few people. Plus, some of the prettiest northern Spain images we’d come across on Pinterest were of Asturias. How could we not swing through there?

We were headed for the Picos de Europa, the dramatic mountain range that spans across Asturias, Cantabria and Castile-León. But to break up the drive, we decided to stop at a few places along the way.

Ever since we spent a few hours near the coast, at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, I was craving a little more beach time.

Even if it were just an hour or two.

That’s how we ended up stopping in Loredo, a small coastal town. It’s known as a surfing and resort area, though it looked like it had seen better days. Perhaps because it wasn’t high summer, but we didn’t feel vibrant energy in the town. Much of it looked like it could use a little sprucing up.

We stopped for lunch at El Pescador, a seafood restaurant near the water.

El Pescador, Loredo, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

We sat outside and ordered the local beer, which was definitely the best brew of the trip…

Raquera | nycexpeditionist.com

P and M, El Pescador | nycexpeditionist.com

…and had huge platters of grilled fish. The food was a bit pricey, but everything was fresh and well-cooked.

Afterwards, we walked to the beach.

M & P, Loredo Beach, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

Since the day was overcast and cool, there was no one out sunbathing.

Loredo, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

Still, we couldn’t resist kicking off our shoes and dipping our toes in the water.

Loredo, Cantabria, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

Our next stop was the Monte Castillo caves, in Puente Viesgo. We’d only heard of them that morning, while looking at our guidebook, and were intrigued. They’re a UNESCO World Heritage site, discovered in 1903, where you can see ancient cave paintings. Two of the four caves are open to the public.

We arrived at the El Castillo cave late in the afternoon, in time for the final tour of the day.

Cuevas del Monte del Castillo, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

I’ll admit—I was a bit skeptical while we were waiting for it to begin. We were waiting in what could best be described as the “cave lobby”—an area with informational signs—from where we could see another group standing inside the actual cave, listening to a guide speak. Was this the whole cave tour?

El Castillo Cave, Cantabria, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

Once ours started, we soon realized that you go through a doorway that leads much deeper into the cave. Our guide, who relayed the information in both English and Spanish (though in much more detail in Spanish) walked us past intricate stalactites, and pointed out hand prints and animal paintings on the walls. (We weren’t permitted to take photos inside the cave.)

After reemerging from the cave, we departed Puente Viesgo…

Puente Viesgo, Cantabria, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

…and headed on to the Picos.

Clark Little’s Incredible Wave Photography

It hasn’t felt quite like summer, over the past few weeks. The weather has been cool, cloudy and rainy–more like early spring or fall. I’m hoping that the last few weeks of summer will heat up, so I can cram in as much beach time as possible.

But even if it stays this way, I can beach vicariously through Clark Little‘s amazing wave photos.

Little is a surfer-turned-photog who lives and mainly shoots on Oahu’s North Shore. He captures shorebreaks by jumping right in and getting under the waves. (I think it takes a surfer to have that much fearlessness and confidence in the ocean!) His resulting shots are pretty incredible:

North Shore, Oahu | Clark Little

North Shore, Oahu | Clark Little

By Clark Little

By Clark Little

Little has a new book out, the aptly title Shorebreak. It’s one that I’d love to have around my apartment year-round—especially during the chilly winter months when I’m dreaming of the beach!

(Images by Clark Little; I first learned of Little through my friend Tania, and of his new book via NPR)

My Favorite Quiet Beaches

On Saturday, I went to Rockaway to get my beach time for the week. As much as I love being by the ocean, I’ll admit that I was feeling a little weary of crowds.

Most NYC-area beaches—Rockaway, Jones, Robert Moses, Long Beach, Coney Island—are pretty packed on the weekends. And for good reason! Everyone wants to get away, even if only for a few hours.

I do love seeing so many people escaping the city and enjoying the sand and surf. But the overall experience isn’t all that relaxing. You’re surrounded by others—and their conversations and music—at all times. While there, it’s hard to feel calm and peaceful when you can barely hear the waves over all the din.

I’ve been lucky to travel to beaches that have been both beautiful and deserted. This weekend, I was thinking about them and wishing I could transport myself back to:

Water Cay, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Last year, Mal, Peter, and two friends and I rented a house on Eleuthera. We stayed in a sparsely populated part of the island, and our house was set on a gorgeous, private beach:

Cotton Bay, Eleuthera

Each day we got to enjoy the soft sand and blue waters without seeing a soul.

Our rental also gave us access to the owner’s boat and a captain who could take us out. Of course, we had to take advantage of that! Our captain, Sidney, took us to Water Cay, a tiny island off Eleuthera’s Caribbean coast. It was absolutely deserted, with calm, clear water and fine white sand.

Water Cay, Eleuthera

It was easily one of the most spectacular beaches I’ve seen in my life.

 

Big Corn Island, Nicaragua

Mal and I went to Big Corn Island in August 2009. The island, and its sister, Little Corn, are located about 40-miles off the coast of Nicaragua, in the Caribbean. They’re known for being remote and relatively undiscovered by tourists. At the time, that certainly proved true.

We flew to the island on a tiny prop plane, and as we descended, I could barely spot any signs of life. Big Corn looked deserted. And once we got out of the plane, we saw that it basically was.

To be honest, I felt a bit uneasy at just how isolated the island felt. There had been a spate of armed robberies against travelers on the islands, right before we arrived. The first night, our hotel was a ghost town—just two or three other rooms were occupied. And the phones and internet were down. The sun set at 6 p.m. and plunged the island into pitch darkness.

But during the daytime, I was able to forget my misgivings a little, thanks to this amazing beach we had to ourselves:

Big Corn Island, Nicaragua

In case you’re wondering, I felt much safer on Big Corn, as the days passed. A small documentary film crew arrived at our hotel from the mainland, as did a few more Nicaraguan travelers. Mal and I had a great time chatting with them—it was just enough people to make the hotel feel less like a horror-movie-waiting-to-happen, but not nearly enough to make the place feel crowded. And the island was just so wild and beautiful, it was impossible not to feel affection for it.

 

Long Beach Island, NJ

New Jersey?! Yes, that’s correct! We rented a house on LBI in early June, before summer season really started—which meant that every day, the beaches looked like this:

setting up on the beach

Sure, LBI doesn’t have fine white sand and crystal-clear water. But it was still a nice, deserted beach that we had all to ourselves for days. I’m so nostalgic for that!

What’s your favorite quiet beach?

So Ready for a Busy Summer Weekend!

Fort Tilden, by Samantha Casolari

Happy Friday! I don’t know why, but even though I’ve been super-busy, this week seemed to drag on forever! I have a packed weekend ahead, but I’m glad it’s here, nevertheless.

One of my best friends is getting married on Sunday evening, and I’m excited to celebrate those two. (Congrats, Duh and Lou!)

Of course, I’m planning a bit of beach time, as well. I’ll likely be headed to Rockaway tomorrow, on a quiet, solo beach trip.

Rockaway is also where the photo above was taken. It’s from Brooklyn-based photographer Samantha Casolari‘s series for Rockaway Summer, a new, free publication about the area. I picked up a copy of it at Rockaway Taco, two weeks ago, and it’s gorgeous—mostly due to Casolari’s dreamlike images. See more of them here.

Until next week, some links from around the web:

 Aerial photos that starkly display the wealth disparity in Mexico City.

More amazing aerials: India, by drone.

9 Characteristics of a culture that determine happiness, longevity and quality of life…I think we’ve got a ways to go, here in the US.

A ballet-inspired clock.

What really hot days look like in NYC.

The fabulous travel illustration blog Drawn the Road Again just celebrated its first anniversary.

A free, gorgeous cookbook with a great social mission: Helping people make delicious, simple, healthy meals on $4 a day.

And finally: What cat would use this?!

Thanks to Mal for the clock and cat links! Have a good one!

(Photo by Samantha Casolari via T magazine)

A Genius Beach Bag

I’m a total beach girl, but I’ll admit that once I’ve left for the day, I don’t want it following me home. I’m not a fan of stepping on sand that’s made its way into my apartment. (Which is woefully not anywhere near a beach.)

The other day, I stumbled upon this genius Quirky beach bag.

Quirky's Shake Bag 1

It looks like a typical beach bag, made from water-repellant canvas, with a few pockets for stashing your stuff.

Quirky's Shake Bag

But if you undo a panel on the side…

Quirky's Shake Bag

…it reveals a mesh bottom with a little pull-handle you can shake to get all the sand out.

Quirky Shake Bag

Pretty brilliant! It’s amazing all beach bags aren’t built this way.

Quirky, if you’re not familiar with it, is an awesome company where anyone can submit their product idea. People can vote on what ideas they’d like to see come to life, and each week, the Quirky team decides which products they’ll produce. Eventually, they’re brought to market, and people can purchase those items from the Quirky shop.

I love the Everlane tote I’ve used as a beach bag for the past two years, but maybe it’s time for an upgrade?

(Images via Quirky)

New Yorker Beach Covers

Though I haven’t taken any other summer trips since LBI, I’ve made a point to hit the beach at least one day each weekend. Like I’ve been saying—the sun and surf are so refreshing after a week spent in an air-conditioned midtown office building!

Sure, NYC-area beaches don’t have the cleanest sand or prettiest water. And yeah, they can get crowded. But I do love seeing my fellow New Yorkers, from all walks of life, basking in the sun and splashing in the water.

That’s why I love this week’s New Yorker cover, by Mark Ulriksen, celebrating summer on Coney Island: It’s a vibrant and accurate depiction of New Yorkers taking advantage of their beach within the city. (Funny, I’ve been to Long Beach, Rockaway, Robert Moses and Jones, but not Coney Island, this year.)

MARK ULRIKSEN’S “CONEY ISLAND”

The magazine also has a gallery of past covers that featured the beach. I loved this one, from 2009, of a couple wading in the moonlight:

banyai couple

And I really got a kick out of these two, from the 1930s:

1937_08_14_Hokinson_Beach

1939_07_08_Taylor_Beach

It’s amazing how little a day at the beach has changed since then. The styles and technology are different, but packing a picnic and/or eating hot dogs and battling crowds are still part of the experience!

(Images via the New Yorker)