As humans, we all have a natural instinct to appreciate and interact with mother nature. We have a strong desire to enjoy the relaxing feeling of water crashing at our ankles, to bury our toes in the sand, and witness the sun go down over a bed of calm rippling water.
But for all the Muslim gals who do not wear bikinis and show off their killer abs for men to gawk at, or strut the beach sporting sun-kissed tan skin due to personal or religious reasons, there needs to be alternative options so that they can actually enjoy the beach, too.
Having lived in the Carolinas, I have developed an appetite and appreciation for beaches that are close by. Of course, since I dress more conservatively than a typical American, I have to do a lot more research whenever planning a trip to a beach destination. I can’t just book a trip to Miami Beach, for example. I need private places where I can let loose a bit and let down my hair. Before you go all hijabi-police on me, relax. I meant only if no one can see me and if I am a great distance away.
So, for all the sisters out there–both veiled and unveiled–this beach guide is for you. I’ve rounded up a few options of beaches you can go to within the U.S.A. that have a more private flare. These are a combination of places I have been to, as well as others I have heard of and would like to getaway to some day. Of course, there are stunning private-beach options internationally as well, but I thought I would take the time to make a guide for the modest North American gals looking to find decent beaches in their backyards.
Whether it be with your loved one or with friends and family, there are some great quiet places you can go to relax and escape while still being close to home. I know all of you ladies would love some beach privacy, and a fun yet tranquil time near the ocean for your own kind of hot girl summer, amiright?
Being able to cool off and get wet on hot summer days is highly necessary. Don’t let our hijabs and modest clothing fool you. Yes, we are hot in this. Very hot.
Let’s dive into these beaches (and I mean that in the most literal sense).
This is a small resort island located 14 miles east of Beaufort, South Carolina. It is in the low-country side of South Carolina. Overall, this was my favorite beach in terms of its natural aura and privacy. A diverse range of animals and natural life fill the area with charm. We saw many different kinds of sea creatures: shrimp (very famous in Harbor Island), sting rays, small fish, hermit crabs, crabs, horseshoe crabs, sea gulls, and a stork, among a few others. Every day, especially around sunset, we would watch pelicans gliding over the water looking for fish. In fact, our resort was known for them, hence the name, “Pelican Point.”
My husband and I took full advantage of our oceanfront rental. We would walk out to the beach, on average, about three times a day. And yes, at some specific times, such as pre-dawn to dawn, there would be total privacy and not a person in sight!
Being natural and preserved, there were a couple cons to this area. The sand was pretty soggy and damp in some areas. Sometimes, the ocean was too close to the shore leaving hardly any sand to walk or wade in. Other times, the tides were pretty far away, and there was plenty of sand, but you would see little critters wash ashore like hermit crabs and shrimp. Or, various birds would be walking nearby on the damp sand with us. In sum, the beach would become almost too natural and rugged and may not suit those people who have expectations of perfect sandy beaches like in the magazines
We did not stay overnight here and instead only visited it for a few hours, as it was next door to Harbor Island. The beautiful thing about this small island is that it is actually a state park with historic sites inside of it. This is great because it means that the island is preserved and well-maintained. However, there are no hotels, resorts, and/or beach shops, other than the Park Store and Lighthouse Gift House, located in the park itself.
The beach is very quiet with very few people. I didn’t really stay at the beach much, but I have a Muslim girlfriend who did. She shared that she didn’t typically see people sun-bathing or with umbrellas there. It seemed quite secluded to swim and wade in, too. I was told the sand, unlike neighboring Harbor Island, was very soft and fine here. So, for someone looking for an enjoyable swim and very nice sand, this would be a great place to visit for a few hours.
The only con of this place is that, because it’s a state park, there is no hotel or airbnb to stay in on the beach itself. You can only visit the historic park/ beach for the day until it closes for the public in the later afternoon, which may make it inconvenient for some people.
Also, according to the South Carolina State Park website, the equestrian beach will be closed until December 2020 as the area is still being restored from damage caused by Hurricane Matthew last October. Some areas have already been opened including a portion of the pier, the North Beach-Day-Use area, the lighthouse, the gift shop and picnic areas, and the Nature Center.
If you are looking for less of a crowd and more serenity, North Myrtle Beach offers just that, unlike Myrtle Beach. The more popular, central area has more traffic, entertainment and recreation. North Myrtle Beach offers small scenic tours, sport recreation, and doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene or as many festivals and events, so it attracts a lot less people. I preferred the quieter scene.
In my opinion, the sand was a lot softer and the sunsets from our resort building were more gorgeous than at Myrtle Beach. But, if you’re in the mood for some entertainment, central Myrtle Beach is only a thirty-minute drive, so you have access to the best of both worlds. During our stay, there were always people in sight, but limited to only about three or four families and/or couples near us on most hours!
This is the beach that I loved the most in terms of lush beauty–meaning lots of trees, palmettos, shrubs, and florals. There were lots of golf courses and tennis courts, too. The difference between Hilton Head and the others on this list is that I found it to have nicer hotels. We stayed at a beachfront place called Omni Resort, which was very beautiful. There were really nice courtyards with large chess sets and fire pits to do bonfires, two large pools with children areas, and a few nice hot tubs. We took full advantage of these amenities, especially during very low crowd times.
This destination is mainly for a mature crowd with its well-maintained, closed-off resorts. It was quiet and serene, but it was also very tourist-oriented. So, it was more similar to North Myrtle in that way, and not nearly as secluded as Harbor Island.
For all of these beaches (except Hunting, of course), we stayed in beachfront rentals. Our units were right on the beach and only a few steps away from the soft sand! Some nights, we went walking to star gaze and quietly enjoyed the ocean waves crashing peacefully under the moonlight. So peaceful and refreshing! I definitely recommend beachfront rentals whenever possible.
When we were on our honeymoon, hubby and I did a Hawaiian cruise of the five main islands in seven days. We both agree that the last day was the most impressive of them all. We believed that the cruise purposely saved the island of Kauai for last because of its peaceful and intensely lush nature. It was the least commercialized island, and interestingly, many scenes from Jurassic Park have actually been filmed there!
I am quite sure it was Kauapea Beach that we saw from far away on our cruise ship. It is known to be super secluded, hard to get to with a steep hike, and has a beautiful waterfall next to it. We also watched the cruise ship slowly pass by the Waimea Canyon, an expansive and stunning feature of the Kauai Island landscape.
One resort that is on the top of my list for destinations I would like to travel to is the Grand Medina Resort located in Orlando Florida. Its official opening date has not been announced as of yet, but we’ll be more than ready once it is! This resort gives you the closest thing to a completely private beach and halal, alcohol-free resort, all in one place And, it’s only minutes away from Walt Disney World, making it the perfect vacation spot for families!
Grand Medina is a luxurious, all-inclusive, five-star halal resort that boasts 217 acres of Muslim-friendly fun. One of the highlights of the resort is the fact that its restaurants offer halal, vegan, and kosher options so that you don’t have to worry about your order being incorrectly made with pork. Phew, that’s a relief!
It also features a private water park with slides, a lazy river, a crystal lagoon and beach to explore and relax on, a conference center (including a prayer center), an entertainment area, and numerous shopping centers. But wait, ladies, there’s more. I can’t forget to mention that this resort has private areas designated for women only! Talk about a world-class, Muslim family-friendly resort! Need I say more? I can’t wait to check this destination off of my bucket list, can you?
Other Muslim-Friendly Beaches I Would Love to Explore
There are many other quiet beaches I would love to visit, such as Lanikaii Beach, Kauai, Bound Brook Island, Cape Cod, and of course higher on my list: the Outer Banks, North Carolina. For the Outer Banks, one needs a ferry to get to the long strip of tiny islands off of the North Carolina coastline. But, this destination boasts miles of pristine white sandy beaches, graceful wild mustangs galloping along the shores, and wait…wild horses?! Hold on while I pack my bags! On this strip, I would preferably stay at the quieter places like Carova Beach or Emerald Isle Beach.
In reality, there is an exhaustive list of lovely beaches that are top-rated for quietness and serenity (credited on Expedia, Trip Advisor, and other popular travel sites). They are located all over the U.S., from the sunny coasts of California to the calm waters of the Atlantic coast, Florida, and even a few in Kauai, Hawaii. Indeed, there are some amazing international beaches that I would love to go to like in the Maldives, and other countries where there are plenty of beautiful private beaches.
However, these domestic locations are great options for a staycation when you’re just looking to book an affordable trip to get away for a few days. You don’t have to fret breaking the bank, taking too many days off of work, or going through an exhausting long plane ride to reach a worthwhile beach destination for some fun in the sun. Being able to take a trip without too much hassle is surely a win for me.
I hope this guide will be helpful the next time you’re planning a staycation, and that you will have some new Muslim-friendly destinations to add to your bucket list, too!
Have you ever been to a destination you feel is Muslim-friendly? Share them with us in the comments below!
P.S. If you do end up traveling to any of the places I featured or have already been to any of them, don’t forget to share your experiences with us! Happy traveling, or should I say bon voyage!