Thursday, August 18, 2011

Two Fun Beaches at Affordable Costs

By: Maddy Martin

The summers in New England are a delicacy to most New Englanders. It’s the season where heavy burdens hanging on each of our shoulders can be stowed away (also known as winter jackets), and a lighter load can replace them. It’s the season where the beaches become a sanctuary to outside activities. At these New England beaches, friends, families, and solo sun seekers can enjoy the sand beneath their toes, the water splashing against their legs, and the sun beaming down on their skin. Depending on your mood or budget, though, finding the right beach can be difficult. Here are two of my favorite local beaches, fairly close to each other but with two totally different environments.

The Strip at Hampton Beach

Hampton Beach: This beach is my all-time favorite, but also the most expensive. It may not be the best place if you’re strapped for cash, but if you’re willing to spend around 30 or more bucks then you should be good to go. There’s an infinite amount of activities, from making sand castles to dancing at the local club. The shops on the strip make for good souvenirs, a good meal, or even a good set of clothes you “forgot” at home. It’s located just an hour away from the city of Boston, in New Hampshire just off of the Massachusetts border.

The “strip,” parallel to the beach and a five minute walk from the water, holds the key to everything you could ask for. From arcades to jewelry stores to restaurants, this strip of fun makes spending money easy (or saving money difficult) to those who venture away from the sandy beach.

Just one of the fun things to do at Hampton Beach: Biking with friends!
The cost of parking at Hampton is around five dollars on the weekdays, which is a bargain compared to most beaches. The problem with parking comes during the weekends when the parking lots are packed with cars, and cost of parking rises to about 20 dollars. Still, this beach is worth the price.

Most hotels on the strip of Hampton Beach offer a free parking pass if you decide to spend the night, and if you’re a college student visiting with your friends like I always am, the cost to split a room and get a free parking pass is worth the deal. With two beds in some rooms and a pull-out couch, there is plenty of room for your friends without feeling too crammed, and without putting a hole in your pocket.

If you do decide to stay for more than one day and you’re old enough for the nightlife, there is plenty to do after the beach has served its purpose for the day. There are bars everywhere – Breaker’s Restaurant and Bar as just one example. This restaurant and bar combination has breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even nightly dancing with a DJ (for more information on Breaker’s Restaurant and Bar, visit: http://ashworthhotel-px.trvlclick.com/dining-entertainment/restaurants/index.cfm). The fun never stops at Hampton Beach, even after the sun goes down!

So, what about the actual beach? Hampton Beach is always crowded with a variety of people no matter what day of the week it is. The waves are big enough to boogie board or body surf, but they are small enough to avoid safety hazards. The waves are far enough out in the ocean where small children can wade in the shallow area without being knocked over. There are lifeguards on duty every day, too, which adds another realm of safety to this public beach.

On shore, there is a strip of sand that most beachers save for activities such as volleyball (some even bring the volleyball net!), frisbee, football, or catch. There are shops on the strip to accommodate for all of these activities, which make packing light and easy (if you have the money to “forget” something, that is). This strip of sand is just behind everyone’s beach luggage and starts right in front of the sidewalk, the bathrooms, and the road. It’s a convenient spot for everyone and spaced out enough so people can avoid getting hurt.

For more information on the great things going on at Hampton Beach (and for driving directions), you can visit:
www.HamptonBeach.com

Salisbury Beach State Reservation: This beach is crazy fun with its intense waves and its secluded area. This is the ultimate beach if your budget is low, with parking at nine dollars a day, or 35 dollars for a season pass. There is camping availability (reservations only), fishing permitted, and even a picnic area. The bathrooms have a unique recycle system, and there are outdoor showers with changing stalls which are completely separate from the bathrooms. This beach is about a 45 minute to one hour drive from the city of Boston, just before the New Hampshire border in Massachusetts (it’s only one or two exits before Hampton Beach).

Salisbury Beach State Reservation is much less crowded than Hampton Beach, giving a much more relaxed feel to the sunbathers and wave seekers that come here. At this beach, it’s essential to pack your own drinks, snacks, and lunch, because the only available food comes from the ice cream and “Fried Dough & Fries” trucks permanently parked next to the parking lot. But, if you’re hot and dying for something refreshing, the ice cream truck can come in handy!

The fun part about this beach is the intensity of the waves. During high tide, the waves are huge and entertaining. There is never a boring moment, because the waves are crashing all around you. But you have to be careful – these waves are stronger than the ones at Hampton Beach, and they can be dangerous if you’re not paying attention. Luckily, there are lifeguards at this beach, too, from 10:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M.

When the tide is low and the waves have become less entertaining, the current becomes stronger past the jetties. This is where the fishermen (and women) like to do their fishing. Some people fish on the rocks, and some fish on the sandy shore. What do they catch? You’ll just have to find out for yourself!

  
Salisbury Beach. Photo taken from: http://maryschwalm.wordpress.com/page/49/

Although I have never spent the night at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, there are plenty of motels and hotels near the area – and if you want to go into the heart of the town, there are even more options. There is also camping in the reservation, the most exciting option if you want to stay longer than a day. You can park your RV and stay for however long you decide to reserve your space for (for more information on camping and reservations, visit: http://www.salisbury-beach.org/salisbury-beach-camping.html). Camping on this site is popular, though, so reservations need to be made far in advance.

For more information on the Salisbury Beach Reservation Park (and for driving directions), visit:
http://www.salisbury-beach.org/index.html

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