A big draw of South Africa is its long coastlines. The Indian Ocean waters are warm, the sea life plentiful, the sun hot and the beaches beautiful and sandy. With well marketed names like the Wild Coast, the Elephant Coast, the Garden Coast and the Shipwreck Coast all willing to accomodate you quite comfortably, South Africa wants you to go spend some time at the beach.
So we tried. We tried hard. Multiple places. We headed to Sodwano Bay and Cape Vidal in St. Lucia Wetland Park (along the Elephant Coast). We stopped at Buccaneer’s Backpackers, widely regarded as one of the best backpackers in the country (along the Wild Coast). And we lasted all of two nights (and three half days) in total at all of them.
It’s not that they weren’t lovely beaches. Both cape Vidal and Sodwano Bay had great snorkeling and beautiful tide pools to go along with warm, lazy water in protected “coves.” It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful beach than Cintsa (where Buccaneer’s is), where the backpackers overlooks an estuary separated from the ocean by an island of sand an green hills on either side. These are all lovely places to lose yourself and do nothing for a day or ten. As many a traveler we met has commented, “we spent five days at (insert beach town here), but I can’t think of anything we actually did.”
But for some reason, we have the hardest time losing ourselves in doing nothing. I am perfectly content to spend half an hour on the beach laying in the sun. But then I am looking for something to do. I try snorkeling, I don’t see much. The walk around the tide pools can captivate me for an hour or so. But then, I’m done. I made it almost three hours. And I am much more patient than Theresa. Usually by this time she’s halfway to the car ready to go.
We lasted all of an hour of daylight at Buccaneer’s. We arrived an hour before sunset, walked down to the beach, enjoyed the sunset, dipped our feet in the water and realized it was not nearly as warm as the St. Lucia area. The next morning we woke up to grey skies, decided it was pointless to stay at a cool water beach on a grey day, and hightailed it.
It’s not really that we can’t spend time at the beach, its just that we need things to do at the beach, we need to be able to be active. There needs to be a good surf for body boarding. There needs to some toys to play with, be they footballs or frisbees or what have you. Stuff to build sand castles with. Great snorkeling. A book to read, but that only goes so far. We just can’t be passive beach goers and sit and soak up sun all day.
I know, it’s a great shame and we should start a fund to help rid ourselves of this disorder. We’re just gonna have to try again in Mozambique. And Tanzania. And Thailand. Hopefully, with enough practice, we’ll be able to break our habits and enjoy a completely lazy day at the beach.