So, we kiwis live in a Paradise where even at the peak of summer you can still find yourself alone on a stretch of sand - just you, the sea and the sky... but there are those odd moments we have, while enjoying the natural bliss that a seaside holidays brings, when we think, wouldn't it be nice to have a small taste of urban life?
While on holiday last week at one of our main beaches, with no hospitality options nearby, I very gratefully ran into a temporary coffee stall to get my daily caffeine fix. While waiting for my fix I overheard the park ranger telling the vendor that he had to move away from the beachside park and set up in the carpark at the far end and I thought - really? Even on the busiest day of the year? This is a win win situation! So maybe I am just lazy and should make more of an effort with my picnic making skills, but sometimes when I'm on holiday, i would like to not make plans and simply show up with nothing more than my bikini, towel and jandals.
So it got me dreaming about some of my favourite beach bars and cafes. I wouldn't mind transporting a few home to New Zealand, even if just for a few weeks each summer, so long as there were only a few. Aside from giving us more opportunities to socialise with new faces in our relaxed 'holiday' mode and giving a much needed cash injection to sleepy seaside towns, there's nothing quite like watching the sunset at the beach, cocktail in hand, dancing freely to some soulful beats and feeling the sand under your toes....
1. Bomba Shack, British Virgin Islands - Bomba built this bar in 1976. Without much money, he built it with love and whatever scrap material that happened to be lying around the island.
2. Un-named Temporary Bar. Sure it's not technically at the beach, but it's still in the sand! Again, it doesn't take much to create an inviting and social place to hang out.
3. Dune Preserve Beach Bar - Anguilla - This sprawling, laid back and funky wooden beach bar serves great food and drinks and has exceptional live music... and poetry too, every Thursday night.
4. La Plancha, Indonesia - A casual and welcoming place for people to relax, enjoy the chilled out music, eat delicious tapas, drink a cocktail or two and enjoy the colourful ambience.
5. Sol Bar - Scheveningen, Netherlands. A very relaxed and colourful vibe at this fun beachside hangout. I wish I could also bring their 'bitterballen' home, a classic dutch snack to have with drinks - yum!!!
6. Baba Nest, Phuket - Not quite at sea level, but this seaside place does makes the most of its roof top. It is a beautiful and relaxing place to chill out with a group of friends and watch the sun go down.
7. Phi Beach Club - Sardinia, Italy - Despite the swanky vibe from the padded white day beds, there are no gates or door staff. This club is open to the beach and free for all to enjoy. As Seth Sherwood put it "As the sun dropped, an every-partyer-and-his-mother crowd poured in: open-shirted Lotharios, socialites in linguini-thin bikinis, dreadlocked hipsters, middle-aged secretary types, families with kids and a tattooed punk rocker with a mohawk. Some floated over the waves on motorboats launched from white multimillion-dollar yachts offshore. Some pedaled up sweatily on rented bicycles. Many displayed six-pack abs. As many displayed zero-pack abs."
8. Haban Kiosk - Churinguito, Spain - A modular kiosk that can be used in various modes and locations. Like all 'flexible' designs they tend to compromise on the 'soul' a little, but nevertheless provides an smart and simple solution to a seasonal cafe.
9. Contagious Architecture, Little Hampton - UK - Jane Wood bought a weekend house in the small seaside town in 2007. On seeing the plans for the previous design at this beachfront location, Jane was not impressed. So she bought the section herself and set about transforming the then lethargic resort though architecture. It started with commissioning Thomas Heatherwick to design the organic East Beach Cafe, above, and before long spread to include 3 other landmark structures including a cafe by Asif Khan, also shown above and a 324 metre long bench by Studio Weave - below.