Beach time was not a regular occurrence for me growing up in the Midwest. Combine land-locked geography with a mother whose strong preference was to expose us to only enough pools and swimming lessons to ensure that my brother & I weren’t in danger of imminent drowning, and you have a recipe for a life where beach vacations are not on the top of your list. 😉 I still remember traveling to Rio de Janeiro in my late twenties for a friend’s wedding and finally having my breakthrough realization, “So THIS is why everyone likes the beach so much!!”

Dar sunset

Sunset in Dar es Salaam. A combo of my phone’s camera + Google’s magical filter recommendations.

I’m now in a position to offset all those years of drought by living less than a mile from the beach. In the last two months, I think our oceanfront time has already eclipsed what Paige experienced in her first 3.5 years of life. Our swimming suits are getting a workout, the likes of which were never seen in Arlington, Virginia.

Most of that is happening at the Dar es Salaam Yacht Club beach on Msasani Bay, which opens to the Indian Ocean. Lest you think we’ve become elite sailors overnight, think less “Newport Yacht Club” and more “Gilligan’s Island”… But the sunsets, views, critters and drinks (I’m told) can’t be beat.

sunset

Another view of the rapidly-setting sun from the Yacht Club perch.

You may be thinking, surely you don’t need to be club members to get to a beach when you’re living on a peninsula. But unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of good, safe, public beach options around Dar. Coco Beach runs along a big stretch of the Msasani peninsula and is popular with locals, but it’s usually accompanied by guidance of “it’s not great for swimming” and “don’t bring any valuables.” There are resorts like Hotel White Sands, where you can pay a few bucks to access the beach for the day, but White Sands is a 40 minute drive with no traffic… and no traffic is highly unlikely! The Yacht Club is less than a mile from our place, and double G&Ts cost ~$2. Sold.

yawn

The proximity of the beach to our house makes it easy to get home fast when Paige starts to sunset herself.

The Yacht Club beach gets pretty cozy during high tide, and Paige is still a bit skeptical of bobbing in the moving ocean… But low tide is children’s paradise. The tide pools stretch out for over 100 yards (per prior photos here), providing endless exploration of crabs, fish, starfish, sea cucumbers, and more… as long as you avoid impaling your foot on one of the plentiful sea urchins. Thus far, Paige has carefully steered clear of their spiny bodies, and she happily spent at least 1.5 hours splashing around in one tide pool on Sunday.

sea urchin

One exposed sea urchin with others lurking in the shadows under the sea grass… Water shoes advised!

 

I’ll try to be sensitive to the fact that I have lots of friends who live on coasts and for whom photos of sea creatures & ocean sunsets are not remotely novel… But so far I can’t help but marvel every time I see one of these vibrant starfish. I guess I’m used to black & white cows.

 

starfish

Gorgeous bright red starfish at the Yacht Club beach