Now that summer is almost upon us, many northerners are planning to take a trip to vacation in Florida and the tropics. In fact I remember April as being one of the most touristy times of year. Disney World would have to close around Easter because the parks were so full.
Florida is much more than Disney World and there is lots to see and many various outdoor activities to take advantage of, and most include water and sun. The advertisements I see on television and the internet show pristine and empty beaches that beckon the vacationer to lie in the sand and soak up the rays. First of all, the beaches are not empty, and the trouble is that most northerners think that the sun is the same in the south as it is in the north. It is not.
Before I knew better, I pictured Florida as one long northern summer. What that means is that I imagined beautiful sunny days of warmth, like our very best New England summer days can bring. In fact those days do exist in Florida – occasionally in December or January! Florida summers are sweltering. There is really nothing fun about them, but I understand that many people have to vacation during the months of no school, so at least heed my warnings of the Florida sun.
I love the water more than the sun, and after living in Florida for over 26 years I have had enough sun. In fact, I love the thought of going back and being on the beach, but I will wear a big hat, sunglasses and lots of a high number sunscreen. And I will visit the beach as early in the day as I can and maybe again when the sun is setting.
When on your Florida vacation this year, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can lie out on the beach all day long or go without any sunscreen at all! Some people can, and some people do. You will see the natives walking along the beaches and they almost match the sand they are so brown – and wrinkled (well, the older ones are, and the young ones will be!).
People who have already been to Florida’s beaches are wise to this. Maybe they spent last year in so much pain that it made an impression and they have learned, but this warning goes to the ones who don’t know that a few hours on a Florida beach is enough!
I especially feel sorry for the kids who are at the mercy of their parents and believe me, there are always stories of people having to take their kids to the emergency room for a bad sunburn. Sunburns are not fun – they can make you sick and cause long lasting damage to your skin. It’s a stupid way to ruin a vacation that you have been planning for a long time. The beaches are beautiful and yes, you want to have fun, but a little sun each day will still get you that golden tan – and that is with a 30 SPF.
You will not see the burn while on the beach – in fact it’s easy to believe that you are “not getting anything” but a few hours later it will show up in all it’s redness and then it is too late, so please be careful. If you are pale as a ghost after the long winter, as us northerners tend to be (Floridians can spot them / us a mile away because of our white bods), then make your first day out on the beach an early trip and stay for only a few hours. Visit a local indoor attraction for the 10am-2pm time frame, when the sun is hottest, and then go back to the beach in the late afternoon or evening.
You should make some time to walk the beach in the evening. It was always my favorite time of day to go. Most of the crowds had gone home and that was a good time to check out the sand castles of the day and search for treasures and snap photos.
I would gladly live in Florida if I could live near the ocean water. To me, it is the best part of the place, but that sun!!
- Morning photo: Sun, sand … and ‘gators (summitcountyvoice.com)