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Have I Turned Into a Beach Snob?

By Nancy

I’m in the middle of my Puerto Vallarta trip report (see Planning a Vacation to an All-Inclusive, Las Caletas, Now Amber Resort Review Part 1), but before I finish writing about our resort, I wanted to reflect on our time at the beach.

My family’s love for the beach has grown and multiplied over the years. Before we had kids, my husband and I never vacationed at the beach together. He always said he was not a “beach person.” We went to France for our honeymoon instead of Hawaii or the Caribbean.

Our first family trip to a beach was in Russia, at Amur Bay off the Sea of Japan. It was April, and the water was completely frozen. Still cool to see, though!

The frozen beach. Brrrr!

The frozen beach. Brrrr!

Our first family trip to a non-frozen beach was to Oceanside, California. We rented a condo for a week in January, so it was still cold. However, the kids loved running along the sand and splashing in the waves.

California beach in January--still fun!

California beach in January–still fun!

My in-laws live about 30 minutes from a beach in Texas, so we have been to this small beach in Port Lavaca many times. There are almost no waves, the water is murky…but still we have had a lot of fun there.

Lighthouse Beach at Port Lavaca, Texas

Lighthouse Beach at Port Lavaca, Texas. He’s not a beach snob!

When we started going on cruises, our beaches started getting a little nicer. This is Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas:

Disney's Castaway Cay

Disney’s Castaway Cay

And Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands:

Virgin Gorda Baths, British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda Baths, British Virgin Islands

My husband started going into the water on our excursions, and dare I say it, he started actually enjoying our trips to the beach!

Last summer, we spent a few days in Daytona Beach, Florida. As far as I can tell, Daytona is not the favorite beach of many Floridians, but we LOVED it there! The sand was so fine that it wiped right off our skin. The waves were perfect. My kids are still begging us to go back to Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach

Ok, so back to Puerto Vallarta. Since my family has enjoyed beaches in several locations with different types of sand and waves, I assumed we would also enjoy the beach at our hotel in Puerto Vallarta.

I had read some Now Amber Resort reviews on TripAdvisor that said the beach was too rocky, but I shrugged off those reviews. I do not consider myself a beach snob. After all, my family wasn’t picky about beaches, right?

When we first arrived at our resort, my kids couldn’t wait to go to the beach! They were so excited that we could see the ocean from our room.

Woohoo! The beach!

Woohoo! The beach!

So they jumped right into the water and were happy as clams, for a few minutes.

But then things went downhill.

“Mom, what’s that smell?”

“No, gracias!”

“Ouch! Something hard just hit me!”

“No, gracias!”

“Something just cut my leg!”

“No, gracias!”

“No seriously, what is that smell? I’m gagging!”

“That red flag just went up. What does that mean?”

“No, gracias!”

There was a smell at the beach. We know the smell of the ocean (sometimes fishy, salty), but that wasn’t it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was bad.

Then, there were the rocks. Big rocks, about the size of baseballs. We had to walk over them to get into the water. Then, while we were in the water, these large rocks would come washing up on the shore. They would hit our legs when a big wave hit. Ouch!

The large rocks on the beach

The large rocks on the beach

Vendors were constantly coming up to us. They were not allowed in the lounge chair area of the resort at the top of the beach, but I wasn’t going to sit that far back while my kids were in the water. So, we were fair game for vendors. I just kept telling my kids to say, “No, gracias.” Besides, I didn’t bring any money with me to the beach.

While we were in the water on the first afternoon at the resort, a red flag was raised. Um…what? Nobody kicked us out of the water, so we remained for several more minutes. It turns out, the red flag means you are supposed to leave the water due to unsafe conditions.

We were the only fools at the beach

We were the only fools at the beach

The red flag was up the majority of our stay. One morning, it was a yellow flag (use caution).

The water was murky, so it was hard to tell where the depth was too high for my comfort level.

When we finished with the beach that first day, we went to the outdoor showers to get the sand off of us before entering the pools. We must have spent 20 minutes at the shower trying to get the large, course sand off our arms and legs. It just wasn’t budging! It stuck to us like glue.

I tried going back to the beach a second time with my oldest, but once we got down there the smell was so bad that we turned back. I did go on another morning with my younger two kids when the flag was yellow, but we didn’t stay long. The good news was that the smell wasn’t as bad that morning. However, the vendors were still pushy, and I felt bad saying “No, gracias” all the time.

I’m trying to figure out if we have turned into beach snobs, or if this was really just an unpleasant beach? I hope we haven’t turned into beach snobs, because I like how my family can be happy at destinations with varying degrees of fanciness and entertainment.

There were never many people at our hotel’s beach in Puerto Vallarta, and the hotel’s information book inside the rooms actually recommended a few other beaches on its “local attractions” pages. One of our taxi drivers told us that there are four rivers that feed into the bay, and that is why the water is rocky and murky. He said that the beaches are much nicer about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta in Punta de Mita.

I was really bummed that we didn’t get to enjoy our hotel’s beach for several hours each day. I was glad we were able to spend an afternoon at an amazing beach at Las Caletas, even though it cost us extra.

Note: Don’t let this discourage you from staying in Puerto Vallarta. Other hotels, like the Hyatt Ziva, seem to have better reviews of their beaches. One of our readers has reported a nice beach at his resort in Nuevo Vallarta, just north of Puerto Vallarta. I think it depends on the exact location of the hotel on the bay.

I hope that we have not been too spoiled by some beaches we have visited in the last few years, and that we can still enjoy beaches that don’t have crystal clear water and perfect waves. I love the sound and smell (usually!) of the ocean, and just being near it is a treat.

What type of beach do you prefer? Do you care about the water/waves/sand, or will any beach do? Do you consider yourself a beach snob?

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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8 thoughts on “Have I Turned Into a Beach Snob?

  1. I think I’m a bit of a beach snob. When I moved here, any beach was spectacular. Now I’m a bit more picky. It’s funny, we actually spent our first two wedding anniversaries at Daytona. The reason? It has the cheapest beachfront rooms. That was before I had hotel points or any kind of savings. We were dead broke, and just got a motel room on the beach for like $80 all-in per night. The area is a bit too busy for my taste, but I’m actually thinking about taking my parents there. My mom loves the ocean, and Daytona is close to St. Augustine. I really want to take them there, and Daytona would provide a good base for various day trips. We’ll see.

    • The area where the Hyatt Place is located was not crowded at all over the summer. It’s so pretty there! But then again, I haven’t been to a ton of Florida beaches, so it might not be as impressive to you. If we go back to Daytona, I’d like to visit St. Augustine and Silver Springs state park. We used to visit Silver Springs on all of our Disney World trips as a kid, and I loved it.

  2. Yeah, I’m a beach snob. If there is one I don’t like (too murky, dirty, rocky), I just won’t plan a trip there again. There are too many nice ones to waste time on bad ones. You sound like the kind of person who will make the best of a trip, so I’m glad you enjoyed your vacation despite the bad beach. It does sound pretty awful though. The smell and vendors would’ve been enough to keep me off.

    Some of my favorite beaches have been in Kauai and Oahu. They were too rough to swim at, but they were just so pristine and scenic and we had them all to ourselves. And I love a good Caribbean beach with the clear water. I like being able to see what’s swimming in there with me. Now, I’m wishing I was at the beach instead of working!

    • I think the beach was pretty bad, objectively. Nobody at the resort seemed to care, though. Everyone was all about the pools. We love pools, too, but in Texas we have a lot of great pools, but not a lot of great beaches.

      I agree with you about Caribbean beaches! We haven’t experienced a bad one there.

  3. Add me to the list of beach snobs. We don’t live too far from Huntington Beach, CA, and we’ll only go once or twice a summer because the water isn’t clear which doesn’t help with the shark sightings lately and the sand isn’t super fine/soft. My kids don’t necessarily like going into the ocean, but they loved Castaway Cay, and they’re begging me to go back – crystal clear and we can all walk out in the ocean for a long time before it gets deep.

    I loved Cabo San Lucas – we didn’t go to the beach, but we were on the Disney Wonder, and I sat on the deck and enjoyed the rock and ocean scenery. Maui’s oceanview is lovely as well, and next year, we’ll get to see Kauai.

    I just love the ocean in general.

    • Shark sightings?!?! I’m out!

      I love the ocean, too. Even though we didn’t go in it that much on our trip, I still liked listening to the waves.

  4. I don’t know if I consider myself a beach snob, but I definitely have certain preferences. 1) clear/clean water. 2) a gradual slope so that my kids can play in the water and walk out a decent amount without going under (and no sharp dropoffs), 3) a soft sandy bottom with a minimal amount of urchins or other marine life that can harm my kid or be damaged by their feet 4) gentle waves that make nice sounds but don’t knock over my kids, 5) ideally not crowded, 6) medium granule sand or pebbles. “Powder” sand sounds great, but it is so fine that it gets into everything. Large coarse sand can hurt. I’m also not a fan of hard rock i.e. slate-type or large rock beaches, but the small pebbly beaches like you find in the Mediterranean are good.

    Some of our favorite all-time beaches are:
    – Holland State Park on Lake Michigan (a.k.a. “the inland ocean”) in Michigan
    – Ka’anapali Beach in Maui
    – Ritidian Beach in Guam
    – Boracay, Philippines (north part of Station 1)
    – Cassis, France

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