Few vacations are as beneficial for the soul – and the body – as kicking back and soaking up the sunshine by the sea.
From recharging tired batteries to discovering your new favourite water sport, here are our eight favourite reasons for checking in at the beach this year.
Who doesn’t find the regular crashing of the waves the perfect melody for falling asleep or helping you to disconnect from the business of daily life?
We probably didn’t need research to prove that there’s no better antidote to stress than the sea, but a study conducted by Michigan State University showed that those who spend more time around large bodies of water experience lower feelings of “psychological distress” and are left feeling mentally relaxed.
What’s more, sunshine – or the lack of it – can really affect your mood, so get nature’s finest happiness boost with a trip to the seaside.
Sea water has incredible qualities when it comes to natural healing. People suffering from psoriasis and eczema often find the mineral content of the ocean can radically improve the condition of their skin.
But add into the equation the exfoliating qualities of sand and the fact that the sun is the best way of making sure we hit our daily dose of vitamin D, and a beach holiday is a guaranteed to leave you glowing, inside and out.
There’s a reason Victorian doctors swore that a seaside holiday could cure any ill; the University of Exeter in the UK investigated the effects of living by the coast and found that oceanside dwellers have higher feelings of health and well-being.
But you don’t have to up sticks and move to the beach; a short trip can bring similar benefits as researchers believe that this trend is linked to the fact that you exercise more when you’re at the coast.
To make the most of this free health boost, go for a gentle early morning jog along the beach. Although running on sand requires 1.6 times more effort than on a firmer surface, the picture-perfect sight of the ocean at dawn is the reward for your hard work.
Many of us associate a trip to the beach as one primarily for catching some well-deserved rays, but there are plenty of other activities to get you moving on holiday.
Try go rock pooling or fossil hunting in the UK, and in warmer climes, invest in a snorkel and hunt for colourful marine life.
Fancy a more active holiday? Choose a destination where you can test the water with a new seaside sport.
Hit the surf in the fishing village turned surfer’s paradise of Taghazout, Morocco’s premier destination for riding the waves, or try out the precarious yet thrilling combination of stand up paddle boarding and yoga on a beachside holiday skimming through the mangrove swamps of Puerto Rico.
You could learn to wind or kitesurf, go sailing or even try flyboarding – the latest craze in seaside thrills.
With so few opportunities to stop, breathe and relax in our 24/7 society, who’s not in desperate need of more quality time with family and friends?
The beach is the place for it. When the skies are blue, not only do the bright rays of the sun make it almost impossible to read your mobile screen and those work-related emails, but if you’ve got kids, it’s as easy as dispatching them with a bucket and spade while you make the most of that parasol, a good book and that rare opportunity to be present in the moment.
Love seafood? Then the beach is the place to go: you can be confident that the distance from sea to plate is barely a few metres.
Your choice of country will determine exactly which fresh catch of the day to expect. Maine in the USA is renowned for its juicy, delicate lobster dishes; consider a holiday exploring the untouched headlands and beaches of Reid State Park by day and chowing down on seafood by night.
Oysters more your style? You’re in luck: the tiny village of Mali Ston on the Croatian coast has some of the world’s best.
Perhaps the biggest draw of hitting the beach is that the coast can make for an excellent getaway whatever month of the year.
Some parts of the world are actually more appealing outside of peak holiday times. Take the rustic, historical villages along the Turkish coast, such as fourteenth-century Alaçati. Rapidly becoming popular with foreign visitors, this chilled hangout is perfect in autumn when temperatures hover around a warm 25-30˚C and there’s plenty of space on the beach.
What’s more, with out-of-season travel often having a lower price tag, you’ll find you have money left in the holiday fund for pulling out all the stops when you land.