Bob Bestler

There’s no beach like home

A few days before we left for a brief camping vacation at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Fla., I saw a Facebook post about America’s favorite beaches.

The survey was done by and it greatly favored beaches in Florida and Hawaii, along with a couple in California. Clearwater Beach in Florida was rated No. 1 by respondents to the TripAdvisor survey.

Myrtle Beach was not mentioned in the top 25, nor was any beach in South Carolina or North Carolina. In fact, the beach in Ocean City, Md., was the only East Coast beach mentioned until St. Augustine, Fla. (No. 9).

In my mind, the omissions raised questions about the survey. Did TripAdvisor travelers primarily visit Florida and Hawaii? Besides Myrtle Beach, what about the Outer Banks? What about Virginia Beach?

Since we were heading for No. 10 on the list, Panama City Beach, I’d have an opportunity to make a comparison.

I will admit the Gulf of Mexico water is bluer than the Atlantic. The waves are milder and the sand is whiter. To that extent, it was nice.

My trouble with the beach was the softness of the sand, which made walking a bit of a trek.

We had brought our dog and his relatively short legs had some difficulty running.

It was a big contrast to the beaches we have come to love — the wide, flat, sun-drenched beaches of Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach.

We’ve walked miles on them; our little dog has run free and had a great time while doing it.

No, they aren’t white and the sand is perhaps a bit coarser, but I’ll take our beaches over Panama City’s most any day.

Turns out I’m in good company.

Another survey of the top U.S. beaches, by the Travel Channel, listed Myrtle Beach as No. 2, after Menele Bay in Hawaii. The first Florida beach, in Clearwater, was No. 5.

Ah, sweet vindication.

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