The Ultimate Beach Experience

Rafraf, Tunisia

I guess I’m late to the game, but I just discovered that I like going to the beach. I used to trick myself into thinking that I liked beaches. Everybody likes going to the beach, right? But after multiple attempts, I resigned myself into admitting, “I am just not a beach person.”

To give you some context, here’s a previous beach trip, in 4 acts.

Act 1: Preparation

  • We’re going to the beach! This will be fun and relaxing. The kids will love it.
  • Okay, get sunscreen on the kids. “Can you please sit still? Yes, I know you don’t like it on your face!”
  • Did you grab towels? 
  • Ugh, they are going to be hungry as soon as we get there. We need to pack more snacks.
  • Do we have a change of clothes? Water? Umbrella? Hats? Extra sunscreen?

Act 2: Arrive at the beach:

  • Oh god, this stuff is heavy. 
  • Why am I carrying like 20 things and the kids are skipping along with nothing? Punks!
  • Time to set up our spot. How do you get this umbrella thing in the sand? 
  • 10 minutes later- got it!
  • Oops, the umbrella tipped over.

Act 3: Play time:

  • Man, I wish my kids knew how to swim. 
  • Where is Penny?! Whew, there she is. Now where did Teddy go?! Oh, there he is.
  • “Kids, don’t go too far out!”
  • Man, those waves are strong.
  • “No, I can’t relax. I’m making sure our kids don’t drown!”
  • Eek! I just felt something touch my foot.
  • Are there sharks around here?
  • What are you supposed to do if you get stung by a jellyfish?
  • This water is cold. I’m getting out.
  • Wow, this sun is hot. Surely I’m getting burnt.
  • Are we done yet?

Act 4: Time to leave:

  • I’m sooo tired. I can not lift all of this crap back to the car.
  • “Kids, pleeeaase help!” No luck.
  • Welp, now our car is a sandbox. Great.
  • Rinse off the sand. What the heck? How does sand even get there?
  • Clothes, sand, and exhausted, hungry children are scattered around the house.

The End.

Fast Forward to today...

Our school has a “Sunshine Group” that plans outings and social events. They advertised a trip to Rafraf Beach, in the Bizerte region, and we decided to go. As we drove the hour and a half with whiny, fighting children and a few wrong turns along the way, I was doubting our decision. But, we arrived. We found parking, found the group, and my tension immediately lifted. This was not like any beach I’ve ever visited.

We set down our towels and belongings on chairs and tables instead of dropping them in the sand. We walked up to furniture already set up for us. Tents and umbrellas provided plenty of shade, and there were even hammocks! And the best part was, I didn’t do any of the work!

The water was amazing! Crystal clear, not too deep, and not too cold. We bought our children floatation vests as well so there was a little less stressed about drowning. (Yes, I know it’s not a guarantee, but it helps.) Plus, if they go under, I would be able to clearly see them. Most beaches I’m afraid to get in the water and very afraid of children getting in the water, but here, I actually had fun playing with my kids. Teddy showed me what he’s been learning in his swimming lessons. Penny could touch the bottom even when we were a ways out from the shore. Once in a while we saw a little fish swim by. We all had a great time.

Beaches with all of these amenities are usually set up in front of hotels or restaurants. This particular spot was in front of the Langouste restaurant. You still have the option of bringing a picnic lunch, but we treated ourselves to ordering instead. They brought our food out to our beach table when it was ready.

A note to those interested in visiting: The menu is in French and the only options are seafood. (No obligatory chicken option like most places.) You order your fish and it comes with rice, bread, fries, and salad. The fish I ordered was great. This place doesn’t serve alcohol. The drinks we ordered, citronnade and virgin mojitos, weren’t great, but hey, we can’t complain!

Overall, it was a relaxing, fun day. We alternated between playing in the sea and relaxing in the hammocks or under umbrellas. If this were a vacation, I would have been very satisfied. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself when I remember I’m not on vacation. This was just a local activity on a random Saturday. International teaching life is sweet! As teachers in the US, that little beach trip would have taken years to save up for, and I’m not sure we ever could have saved enough to go overseas with a family of 4. But I digress…

10 out of 10 for Rafraf Beach in Tunisia! I’ve seen the light and I won’t be dreading my next family trip to the beach. If a day at the beach is supposed to be relaxing, these little beach spots have the right idea- no lugging heavy gear, no set up, no food to bring, and perfect water conditions. We’ll be back!

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