Beach-Building Basics

Think your beach isn’t exciting enough to attract visitors? Well, think again. Making your beach the place to go can be done with minimal effort. “All you have to do is give people the space and not get in their way,” advises Tom Fox, President and CEO of Harbor Experience Companies, who has three “manmade” beaches at his Water Taxi locations at Long Island City, South Street Seaport and Governors Island in the New York Harbor area.

Built on vacant parking lots (yes, you read that right), the beaches are created with some imagination and thousands of tons of sand, leveled to roughly 6 inches deep.

“Each of our locations has a beach where we have taken in hundreds of tons of sand for people to hang out and enjoy the sun,” says Fox. Participants are only permitted to bring water onto the property. All food and other beverages must be purchased from the WaterTaxiBeach’s themed restaurants and bars. People also can enjoy plenty of sand and sunshine as well as volleyball, ping-pong and concerts.

“Nothing is fancy. It is all temporary, there is no major construction,” says Fox. “The bars are trailers. The kitchens are trailers. It is a nomadic park, if you will, as it can be moved from place to place.” For the last six years, the Long IslandCity location offers beach-time fun on its 44,000 square feet, including three volleyball courts, two bars and a grill that focuses on grilled chicken, ribs and award-winning hamburgers. Group activities include DJ concerts and volleyball leagues.

The South Street Seaport covers roughly 20,000 square feet with a nautical-themed nine-hole golf course, four ping-pong tables, bars and fish shack. The Governors Island location hosts bars and restaurants, including one that features organic and regional produce. Forty concerts are planned in 2010 with entertainment such as the B-52s, 50 cent and the Dark Star Orchestra; each concert attracts between 2,000 and 3,500 attendees per evening.

A similar idea was incorporated when the Floating Pool Lady (a retired barge redesigned as a pool) was harbored at BrooklynBridgePark. More than 1,300 tons of sand was used to fill an old parking lot to create a beach to entertain people while they waited for a turn in the floating pool. The beach was made complete with lounge chairs, umbrellas and sand volleyball. The sand–trucked in from the public JonesBeach on Long Island–naturally included plenty of seashells, which kept young and old alike busy for hours.

A “Real” Beach

For municipalities lucky enough to actually have a beach, the CrandonPark in Florida’s Miami-DadeCounty is perhaps one of the best examples of including amenities. This 1,100-acre area offers a great deal of everything to more than 1,000,000 visitors per year, including:

· Eco tours

· A park

· A tennis center considered the fourth in the world for major tournaments

· A 18-hole golf course consistently rated in the top 10 public golf courses in the country

· Deep-sea fishing charters

· Kite surfing

· Sail boat and kayak rentals

· Shelters, cabanas, beach chairs and umbrellas

· Bicycle tours

· Snorkeling and scuba diving.

Something For Everyone

Utilizing the natural surroundings, CrandonPark’s eco-adventure tours help people understand and appreciate the area’s habitat and history. “We offer bicycle tours that combine heritage tours and ecotourism,” says Ernie Lynk, recreation specialist supervisor for Miami-Dade County Parks. “We have the kayak and snorkel tours and various nature walks, but one of the most popular programs is the sea-turtle programming.” This programming is done in compliance with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s regulations.

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