Photo of the day 7.20.09

As we wind down Beach Day here at Gadling, it just seems appropriate to feature this stunning image captured by Patrick Powers and shared in our Gadling Flickr pool. Patrick aptly calls this shot, “If it’s a tequila sunrise, does that make this a vodka sunset?”

I dunno, Patrick, but I like the way you think. Meet me at the bar to the right of this image?

If you’ve got some great travel shots you’d love to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day.

Gadlinks for Monday 7.20.09

In keeping with the beach theme today on Gadling, here are some beach-related travel reads for you, this glorious summer Monday.

‘Til tomorrow, have a great evening!

More Gadlinks HERE.

Oahu’s Best Beaches

It’s time to take a trip around the ever-famous island of Oahu for a beach bopping bonanza (I couldn’t help myself with the alliteration)! There are so many worthy beaches on this small but populated island that I’ll be breaking down my favorite beaches all the way around. There are seven of ’em (there was no way I could narrow down the list), so let’s get started.

Magic Island: Your visit to Honolulu wouldn’t be complete without a picnic at the ever-tranquil, always crowded, and aptly named Magic Island. It’s really not an island; rather, this is a beach park with a long stretch of man-made beach with tranquil waters that are protected by a man-made reef. Outside the reef are some of Ala Moana’s best surf breaks — namely Courts, Concessions, Big Rights, and Marine Land. Whether you’re visiting the Magic Island during the week or on the weekend, you’re sure to catch a scent of the kalbi or burgers on a barbecue grill, and the sight of at least a half dozen stand-up paddlers exercising their shoulders inside the reef pool.

Waikiki Beach: The beach itself is packed with tanning tourists, and the waters are jammed with beginner and local surfers, but there’s something uniquely Hawaiian about the “scene” around Waikiki Beach. This is quintessential Hawaii, and to not spend at least some time people watching or wading in its tranquil waters is like saying you’ve never been to Hawaii at all. Be sure to snap a shot of the Duke statue in front of Queens Break while you’re at it.
Diamond Head: It windsurfing is your thing, the Diamond Head is your haven. From atop Cliffs, you can see the snake-like swell for miles and watch the surfers and windsurfers catching their rides of the day. Head down the paved ramp to the beach, and claim a plot of sand for yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the beach’s frequent visitors — Hawaiian monk seals, who enjoy sunbathing by day. A word of caution, the beach can get a bit windy, and it’s not wise to park it under the rocky cliff, as rock slides are common.

Sandy Beach: The popular video of Barack Obama bodysurfing at Sandy Beach makes the waves here seem manageable, but proceed with caution: many amateurs have broken necks in the shorebreak at Sandy’s and the rip currents on any given day are not to be taken lightly! Sandy’s can draw majorly local crowds especially on the weekends. It is well-known as a high school hangout spot, but the scene here is just part of its appeal. The flat, open green is perfect for flying kites, and it’s an ideal place to barbecue or just chill out.

Lanikai Beach: This list would be incomplete without a shout out to perhaps the state’s most famous beach, Lanikai, just east of Kailua. Lanikai Beach has long been named as one of the world’s top ten most beautiful beaches — and deservedly so. The sand here is so white and fine, you might wonder whether you’re walking on a cloud, and the water is so calm and crystal clear that you can see your little pinky toe. It’s really a sight to behold.

Ehukai Beach: While Ehukai Beach itself isn’t anything too special, when winter rolls around, the pounding surf makes this the place to be. That’s because Ehukai is home to none other than the one of the world’s most famous surf breaks: the Banzai Pipeline. If you get here on a good day — or when a surf contest is being held (usually in December), you’ll be completely shocked and pleasantly surprised by the population of onlookers. Every foot of sand is claimed by hot surfers, bikini babes, and other attractive people. It’s really the place to be — but only in the winter months. If you for some reason miss the swell, head just a mile west and check out the turtles at Laniakea Beach.

Makaha Beach: If you’re brave enough to venture way out to the wild west of Oahu, your trip would not be complete without at least a brief stop at the beautful Makaha Beach. Perhaps the least crowded of all the beaches on this list, Makaha (the Hawaiian word for “fierce”), is also the most authentically Hawaiian beach of the bunch. The Keaulana family and Rell Sunn made this beach famous, and the place remains steeped in history and legend.

The five best beach vacation games

A day at the beach is always fun. I personally like to barbecue and play games — but if you’re traveling, you probably don’t have a grill with you, much less a cooler, a bunch of friends, or even so much as a pail and shovel. Here are five great beach games that don’t require tons of people, don’t wreck the beach (or disturb others), and which require under $20 in props.

1. Kite flying. Kites are awesome, easy to pack in that outer suitcase pocket, and they’re usually cheap to buy on location if you didn’t plan ahead. They have some great, cheap kites on, like this one. Make it a competition by timing who can keep it in the air the longest, or fly it the highest.

2. Sandcastles. I mean, duh, right? But this list would be incomplete without the building of sandcastles, a time honored tradition. Make sure you collect lots of flair from all over the beach to decorate, and if you want a little competition in your beach day, try timed sandcastles with a friend — you each get half an hour to make the most impressive sandcastle. If you don’t want to spend money, use the coffee mugs from your hotel room for building — a butter knife will also come in handy.

3. Digging to China (unless you’re in China; then it would be Digging to America). This is a simple, but really fun game. You and a friend go to just where the water is coming up on the shore, and dig as far down as you can in five minutes. Whoever’s hole is the deepest wins. You may find the ocean does you a favor — or completely ruins your effort. Consider it the universe deciding whether it likes you or your friend better.

4. Sand darts. Draw a “dartboard” in the sand, or perhaps just a basic concentric circle target. Make an X where participants should stand. Each player tosses a quarter, or a room key, or a rock, or whatever you have, and tries to hit the center of the target.

5. The quiet game.
This is excellent when traveling with children. Everyone lies down on their towels, side by side, and the first person to say something loses. Ah, sweet silence.
Don’t forget to put on suntan lotion … and return those cups to the hotel!

Art in the sand

Many of us have fond memories of scooping up sand with a little plastic shovel, packing it into a bucket, and making our very own castle. After a hard afternoon’s work, the tide would come in and we’d laugh as the surf destroyed all our hard work. That was part of the fun!

But making sandcastles isn’t just kid’s stuff. There’s a whole international community of artists out there who look on it as art as well as fun. Some creations are truly incredible, like the one pictured here, made in Victoria. Australia, in 2002. It’s ten feet tall and almost as wide. Making those arches near the top must have been tricky. I would have probably fallen over and left a Sean-shaped impression on the all those lovely domes and spires.

And not all these artists make castles. Dragons, mermaids, abstract designs, even human figures are all fair game. In fact, they prefer the term “sand art” since it sounds more respectable and isn’t limited to the traditional castle.

There are even artists who do their work as a job instead of just a hobby, like the talented G. Augustine Lynas, an artist who works in a variety of media but whose talent shines best in bizarre creations in sand and snow.

The best place to see these artists show off their talents is at one of the big competitions. Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia, Canada, had one of the biggest every year, but sadly it has been discontinued. You can see a cool video of last year’s entries here. Another one takes place every year on Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, USA in June. The best place for up-to-date information on the nearest competition and tips on how to create sand art of your own is Sand Castle Central.