My earliest memory of a beach was a random Summer on an island, which happened to be my hometown, the capital of Denmark — Copenhagen. To be exact, it was an even smaller island within it called Amager. Yes, a Scandinavian beach doesn’t ring as attractive as the Bahamas, but I remember falling in love with the sea there. It was Summer, I was about 5, and it was the day I decided that I was going to learn to roller-blade. I wobbled on my skates trying to keep up with my dad jogging ahead of me on a track parallel to the beach. After his silhouette blended in with the horizon, I sat down, took off my skates, and walked onto the beach. The rough sand granules on my toes, the dark sea stretching out as far as I could see, and the fresh air hitting my face were as close as I have ever felt to “home.” Back then my only explanation was that I was born a Pisces, so of course I would feel at home by open water. Now that I’m a bit older and I’ve experienced more oceanside towns and islands, I know that it’s a bit more than just my star sign.
Wherever you are, being by the ocean brings a sense of balance; the people and the culture are all uniquely perfect, and the energy that runs through it is a steady calm . . . a comfort.
I guess that’s why there is an allure with islands, not the Scandinavian kind, but the ones with warmer weather, saltier water, and tropical fruits. You may not speak the language, but you somehow get around just fine. You may not have ever experienced anything like it, but if given the opportunity and resources, you would drop everything and move there. I have joked on many occasions that I will retire early, live in a little shack, and live off of the fresh produce around me (a girl can dream, right?).
I remember speaking to a friend about going on a beach vacation and she asked, “Don’t you find it too slow? Boring?” I understood where she was coming from because “island time” is a complete 180 to the hustle and bustle of the city. There’s a slowing down of everyday life and a nonchalant attitude toward time. To many of us, it’s frustrating and hard to wrap our heads around, but the more time I have spent in places like these, the more I’ve realized that slowing down is needed to check back in with ourselves.
In Zanzibar, for example, if you drive out of the city toward smaller towns and villages, you will find people of all ages outside conversing along the roadsides, unbothered, unconcerned, and in no rush to get anywhere. There’s laughter, there’s community, and even as a complete outsider, you are welcomed in for some afternoon tea or included in the street-side banter. As much as it may take getting used to, I think that this “no worries” approach to time can reduce a lot of stress in our lives and in turn bring more peace and happiness to it.
If we’re talking about what makes us happy, now, I don’t know about you, but personally food plays a big role in putting a smile on my face. Just imagine it, sitting under a palm tree, drinking the water out of a coconut, or waking up to a platter of fresh fruits — and don’t get me started on fresh seafood. Eating fresh, healthy foods always uplifts my mood, and I guess it’s true what every trainer and nutritionist has ever said: when you treat your body well, you feel better, you look better, and you’re attracting wellness into your life. If we look at food trends in the past years, it’s been documented that many of us are more aware of what we are eating and drinking. Acai bowls have flooded Instagram feeds from sunny California to cute little cafes in London, and we’re on the prowl for new superfoods . . . all these food trends are mostly adopted from warmer, more scenic parts of the world; just like many beauty regimens and beautiful textiles, we import a lot.
Sadly, one thing we cannot import is the weather. The warm sun against your skin and a bright bedroom are enough to get you out of your bed in the morning. Not to mention the humidity and the salty ocean are like being at a spa for free; there’s a reason the Dead Sea is sought out by millions every year. We all get complimented on our great tans or our glows upon our return home, and we also often begin to adopt more positive outlooks to life. We all return looking healthier, rested, and full of life even if we’ve been partying it up every night. In my opinion, island life is the elixir to a healthier, happier, longer life.
It’s been proven in different islands or oceanside towns that people live longer and are generally healthier, and it’s because their lifestyles are set up very differently to ours. Their priorities may not be that 9-to-5 job or the mortgage; their cultures may be built around family or spirituality. So if time moves slower, you’re eating healthier, and you can wake up without an alarm clock because your body automatically resets itself, it’s no wonder islands are so contagious. We all need a break to listen to our bodies — sometimes it may be doing nothing during the weekend, and other times it’s the great escape to the beach. Whichever enrichment you need, do like the great Bobby McFerrin once sang: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”