When I picture a trip to Hampton beach my mind swirls with images of hot golden sand, radiant sunlight warming my body, children splashing in the surf, and couples walking hand in hand as refreshing waves wash over their feet.
Visiting Hampton Beach
What I encountered on my first trip to Hampton Beach, in New Hampshire, was anything but what I had envisioned. The children were not exactly splashing in the surf so much as avoiding it. The couples didn’t walk holding hands in the tide. No, the vast majority of beach goers were actually doing their best to keep a safe distance from the waves as they rolled in across the sand. The sun was certainly radiant and starting to burn my skin. It seemed that Hampton Beach was a place where people did almost anything, except get in the water. At first, I was perplexed by the strange sight. The beach was full of people lazing about on the hot summer day, but almost no one dared enter those deceptive ocean waters. My confusion would not last long. No, I would soon discover what most New Englanders already know.
I had come to the beach to seek relief from the heat, and that was just what I intended to do. I confidently approached the glistening Atlantic waters and waited for the cool waves to rush over my bare feet. When the icy waters crashed against my skin, and I jumped back in alarm. Then I quickly turned and ran back to the safety of the hot sand a few yards behind me. My surprise turned to disappointment. I wouldn’t be spending my afternoon enjoying the water after all. Instead, I spent the next few hours hiding from the sun under my umbrella, like so many others visiting the beach that day.
I had learned a very important lesson. New England’s beaches are not known for being warm. The water is bitterly cold all year round.
Maybe next time I will bring a wet-suit. Or I could simply relax under a big umbrella with a cold drink or an ice cream cone from The Beach Plum. Listening to the waves crash on to the shore is soothing even if you have to listen from a distance.