Beach vacation guide

From all-to-yourself islands to hidden beach towns to iconic coastal experiences, the West has the beach vacation of a lifetime in store for you

30 iconic beach experiences

Ignite your love for the shore with these classic beach icons. From boardwalks to bonfires, here are our favorite ways to dive in

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The lifeguard
J.P. Greenwood

The lifeguard

You might call it a day at the beach, but Alex Messina calls it a day at the office: Lathered up in SPF 35, he patrols SoCal’s Bolsa Chica and Huntington State Beaches, where a busy year can have 9,000 rescues. Biggest mistake he sees? People swim out too far, or end up in rip currents—river-like channels rushing back out to sea. Brown choppy water with whitecaps is a telltale sign, so if you think you’re in one, he says, “swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of it before attempting to swim back.” As for Jaws: “I’ve been a lifeguard for 10 years and never seen a shark, but I’ve been stung by stingrays twice.” How to avoid them? Shuffle your feet while wading. When he’s not in the water, Alex uses the beach as his gym to stay in shape: “Running in the sand is a great leg strengthener.”


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