There's something truly special about the beach – the sun-kissed sand, the rhythmic sound of crashing waves, and the salty ocean breeze. It comes as no surprise to us island girls, that people are drawn to the coast, seeking serenity. But did you know that there is scientific evidence that beach therapy offers a load of benefits for both our physical & mental well-being. Yep, it’s true!!
A week ago, I asked in Our Island Family Facebook group for our incredible community of 1800+ island girls across the globe to name their favorite beaches from their home country, and inspire us all with some photos. The response was overwhelming and I absolutely loved scrolling through the comments to see where you are from and what beaches make your hearts sing. Seeing how much you were all lit up by sharing your beach loves with your community, reminded me how important the beach is to all of us… I even jumped up out of bed on a chilly winter morning to take Gypsy for a walk in the sand 😍
Join me as delve a little bit into the science behind why the beach has such a profound impact on our mood, and then share 35 of Our Island Family’s favourite beaches to get you inspired to take some beach therapy of your own.
The Science of Beach Therapy
1. The Calming Color of Blue
The color blue has a profound effect on our state of mind. Countless people (not just island girls 😜) associate blue with feelings of calm and peace. It turns out that gazing at the vast expanse of the ocean can actually change our brain waves' frequency and induce a mild meditative state. According to this study published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science's journal, the color blue is even associated with a boost in creativity.
2. The Soothing Smell of the Ocean Breeze
Have you ever noticed how the smell of the ocean breeze instantly puts you at ease? Well, there's a scientific explanation for that. The negative ions present in the air near the ocean have a calming effect on our nervous system. These oxygen atoms, abundantly found in places like waterfalls and the ocean, can potentially alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, as suggested by a study published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine. Makes sense to me!
3. The Therapeutic Sounds of the Waves
The rhythmic ebbing and flowing of the waves create a symphony that can lull us into a state of deep relaxation. The combination of soothing sounds and captivating visuals activates our parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for slowing us down and allowing us to relax. As clinical psychologist Richard Shuster explains, the consistent sounds of the ocean "kind of de-stimulate our brains," helping us feel more engaged and at peace.
4. The Feeling of Warm Sand
The simple act of walking barefoot on warm sand has an incredibly calming effect on our bodies. The physical sensation of our feet sinking into the soft grains of sand induces a sense of relaxation and connection with nature. This tactile experience has been proven to release endorphins, the feel-good hormones that elevate our mood and reduce stress levels.
5. The Placebo Effect
There's a psychological aspect to the healing power of the beach as well. We have been conditioned to associate the beach with peace, tranquility, and relaxation. Countless movies and TV shows depict beach scenes as idyllic and serene. Our expectations of relaxation, when we visit the beach, can create a placebo effect, where we actually experience the benefits we anticipate. The power of our mind in contributing to our well-being should definitely not be underestimated!
Maximize Your Beach Therapy
Now that we understand the science behind beach therapy, it's time to explore how we can maximize the benefits during our beach trips. Whether you're fortunate enough to live by the coast or you're planning a vacation to a tropical paradise, practicing mindfulness and embracing the beach experience can amplify the positive effects on your well-being.
Embracing Mindfulness by the Ocean
Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present in the moment, has been proven to have numerous mental health benefits, including stress relief. As you sit or walk along the beach, take the time to immerse yourself in the sensory experience. Feel the warmth of the sand beneath your toes, listen to the rhythmic sounds of the waves, and breathe in the salty ocean air. Put your phone away and allow yourself to be fully present, letting go of any worries or distractions. This mindful connection with nature can help calm your mind, reduce stress levels, and promote a sense of inner peace.
Engaging in Beach Activities
Beyond the meditative aspects of beach therapy, there are plenty of activities you can engage in to enhance your well-being. Whether it's swimming in the rejuvenating ocean waters, or taking a relaxing stroll along the shoreline, these activities can bring you so much joy!
Seeking Solitude vs. Socializing
For some, the beach is a place of solitude and reflection. It provides an opportunity to escape the noise and distractions of everyday life, allowing for introspection and self-discovery. Find a secluded spot, bring a good book, and let the gentle lapping of the waves inspire your thoughts and creativity.
On the other hand, the beach can also be a place of connection and socialization. Gather your friends or family for a beach picnic, play beach volleyball, or join a yoga class by the shore. The beach offers a communal space where you can bond with others, share laughter, and create lasting memories.
Exploring Different Beaches
Each beach has its own character and charm, and the diversity of landscapes can add an extra dimension to your beach therapy. Whether it's the white sands of Whitehaven Beach in Australia, the picturesque views of Cannon Beach in Oregon, or the vibrant energy of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, every beach has something special to offer. With 1800+ beach tour guides within our community, we are spoilt for choice on where to explore! So, without further ado, I present you with our island fiends TOP 35 favourite beaches around the world…
1. Sawtell Beach, Australia
2. White Sands Beach, Connecticut
3. Block Island, Rhode Island
4. Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset England
5. Destin, Florida
6. Oak Island, North Carolina
7. Hyams Beach, Australia
8. Whitehaven Beach, Australia
9. Pass Christian, Gulf Coast
10. St Pete Beach, Florida
11. Jimmys Beach, Australia
12. Blue Mountain Lake, NY
13. Panama City Beach, Florida
14. Okalossa Island, Destin Florida
15. Cannon Beach, Oregon
16. Goolwa Beach, South Australia
17. San Pedro, Belize
18. Smathers Beach, Key West
19. Bird Island, North Carolina
20. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
21. Pacific Beach, San Diego
22. Hatteras Island, North Carolina
23. Edithvale Beach, Australia
24. The Big Island, Hawaii
25. Long Island, New York
26. Hollywood Beach, Florida
27. Coquina Beach, Gulf of Mexico
28. Fort Myers Beach, Florida
29. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
30. Miramar Beach, Florida
31. Bradenton Beach, Florida
32. Chincoteague Island
33. Frederiksted Beach, St Croix
34. Forster Beach, Australia
35. Sanibel Island, Florida
The healing power of the beach is undeniable. From the calming color of blue to the soothing sounds of the waves, every aspect of the beach contributes to our physical and mental wellbeing. Whether you're fortunate enough to live by the coast or plan a beach vacation, make sure to take full advantage of the therapeutic benefits the ocean has to offer. So, pack your beach bag, put on your sunscreen, and immerse yourself in the blissful world of beach therapy.
Your mind, body, and soul will thank you.