After watching a show that counted down the Top 10 Southern California beaches on the Travel Channel, I wondered how the producers of the show made their picks.
Newport Beach came in second, behind Coronado beach in San Diego.
So I asked myself, what constitutes the perfect beach? I suppose the criteria are different for different beachgoers, like parents with younger children, or the lone surfer just looking for waves, but there should be some attributes that all quality beaches should possess. In my mind, there are only two factors that every beach I visit must have; accessibility and waves.
I grew up around cove-style beaches with rocks and cliffs, some of which required a descent down a long, shaky stairway, or a slide down a dirt hill just to get to the sand. Now this can be good, because it can keep out the casual beachgoer and tourists and leave more space for the locals, but it can be bad because it limits the beach-going experience in obvious ways. Newport is wide open and welcomes anybody to its shores, although in the summer it can be a bit crowded.
However, with miles of coastline, Newport Beach has room for everybody. Not only does the beach stretch up and down the coast, but at most places the sand stretches a few hundred yards inland to provide plenty of room for volleyball, waffle ball, football, Frisbee, bocce ball, and tons of other beach games to be played.
Another crucial item for the perfect beach has to be waves. If you’re like me, most of the time you’re not going to the beach to just sit there and observe, you’re there to get some waves! Again, where I grew up the shore was full of beach breaks, rocks, and reefs that gave most of the surf spots excellently shaped waves, but could be a safety hazard if you’re not paying close enough attention.
Also, if you’re planning to go out at a reef break, you can safely assume you’ll be dog-fighting for waves all day. Newport has, for the most part, the same type of waves up and down the Peninsula. They’re long, medium-powered waves that roll in one after another. During big swells the power kicks up a bit and without the wind the shape gets better. As you get closer to The Wedge, the waves break closer and closer to shore making it ideal for skimboarding and bodysurfing.
The other factors like water temperature, facilities for children and showers are important to some beachgoers, but not to me. I just want to be able to get to my beach and have some nice waves waiting for me. Maybe a combination of coves and cliffs with openness and sprawling beaches is the key.
I don’t know if Newport has perfect beaches, but they’re certainly up there in rank.
So get out and enjoy them while we have such great weather…finally!