Beach vs. Mountains: The Unending Debate

I’ve been a vacationer to both the beach and the mountains ever since I was little. When I leave my house, the adventure has to be worth it. After all; as an introvert, social activity is quite draining, so I want to spend whatever energy I have doing something that’s enjoyable. So I thought I’d discuss the potential pros and cons to both and explain which I think has the better deal.

The beach has a lot of fun activities. You could go surfing, boogey boarding, swimming, fishing, and do just about anything in the ocean. You can even just stand in the water and let the waves knock you over as you try not to drown because you’re short and all your friends are tall and fifty feet ahead of you. (No? Just me?) That’s just the water alone! Then you’ve got the sand, where you can play various athletic games like volleyball, bocce ball, Frisbee, or badminton just as a few of them. For the non-athletes like me, there’s always the options of building sand castles, collecting shells, sitting under a large hat or umbrella and reading, listening to music, or even sleeping. I have to admit; once I have the sunglasses on and my headphones in, I can pass right out.

And it wouldn’t be the beach without the boardwalk! As a vacationer of the Jersey Shore, there’s a ton of different boardwalks to visit that have their own fun to them each. There’s the food, the different kinds of rides, prizes to be won, and even those odd activities like glow in the dark mini golf and old western photos. Some shops have hermit crabs for sale. (Which is a questionable industry to begin with, but I can’t help but add to my hermit crab family whenever I go.) There’s always an adventure on the boardwalk, even if it’s just hunting for Pokémon on Pokémon GO.

The mountains have many of the same activities, but without the boardwalk. Thanks to lakes, there’s still a ton of opportunities for water activities and tanning. While you can’t exactly surf in a lake, but there’s always the possibility of kayaking and doing other water sports. There’s also the addition of ropes courses, shooting ranges, and hunting. I don’t hunt, and I don’t like the idea of hunting, but some people like it. I find it’s also a lot quieter in the mountains, and there’s less children I see around. The population is a lot less dense along one coast, so it’s fairly spread out.

When I’m up in the mountains, there’s beautiful forests everywhere, in all seasons. There’s variety in the seasons, unlike at a beach town where you’re there for the summer and otherwise it’s too cold to enjoy. For those who like the heat, the mountains have enough heat during the summer that won’t send you into a heat stroke. The most extreme weather is usually in the form of snow, ice, and sleet, but otherwise the beach has to deal with those in addition to the hurricanes and floods. There’s a bountiful amount of nature around as well that can be hard to witness at the beach.

Both places have their own cons, no doubt. Both have bugs, but different kinds of bugs. While you’re getting bit by sand bugs and horse flies at the beach, there’s just as many ticks and mosquitoes in the mountains. The beach also has seagulls that will steal a pizza slice out of your hand just to drop it into the ocean because Poseidon needs good offerings. (And if it’s Northeastern pizza, it’s a worthy offering, but a hefty loss for yourself.) Another issue with beach/lake oriented activities is what you’ll wear. Bikinis, if you enjoy wearing them, take a lot of trust. Trust in your surroundings, so as the ties don’t snag and leave you suddenly without a top or bottom. Trust in the people around you, so nobody pulls the strings, and also trust in yourself to make sure you’re not doing anything too fun that might make your top or bottoms fly off like a water slide or a wave.

At the beach especially, you need to apply sunscreen frequently if you so much as walk outside for an hour. I got a burn once going outside in overcast for an hour; the sun is not my friend. Neither is the sand. Careless beach bums kick it around while walking by or waving out their towel, some uncontrollable children throw it, and it always seems to coat your entire body no matter what you do.

My verdict: It just makes more sense to go to the mountains. You can enjoy many of the same beach activities there while not being put on a spit roast and burning the soles of your feet on the sand. There’s no boardwalks, but there’s tons of other things to do. Sure, it doesn’t have the same kind of kitschy beach culture that beach towns do, but it’s got its fair share of charming landscapes. I’m writing this now from my mountain house, and my desk is right by the window. In the past week, I’ve watched a mother deer perhaps be in labor, only the next day to come back with an adorable baby. The mom walked up to my window too! Yesterday I also watched a baby bear cub wander by from the safety of my house.

You can go to the beach just about anywhere, but there’s only certain charms of the Northeastern United States that can be beautifully displayed like the changing of the seasons. I go to school down in the South, and it just gets ugly during winter. Mostly everything dies, the end. There’s no magnificent last display of life, and there’s certainly no snow or cold. When I had to evacuate my dorm because of Hurricane Matthew, I escaped back up North where I was able to catch a glimpse of the seasons at their full power in the mountains.

(Come on. That’s gorgeous.)

There’s no whiny children crying about not getting ice cream from the ice cream man. There’s no screaming kids wanting a useless toy to be won from a vendor for a stupidly expensive amount of money. There’s no jellyfishes coiling around your legs or sharks potentially poking their heads around scaring people. In the mountains you can have your peace or your adventure, depending on the day. It’s all up to you.