Growing up from an infant to a teenager on the Northern Beaches of Australia, my backyard was just minutes away from the sand and salt water.
In the midst of my high school, as a 16 year old with freshly divorced parents, my mother decided to bid the rapidly growing yet still totally relaxing lifestyle of the Northern Beaches goodbye and I found myself moving to a small and (to me then) insignificant country town located on the beach.Lennox Head, a stones throw away from Byron Bay.
I have been surrounded by water since before I can remember.
My fondest childhood memories include rolling around in the ocean pulling faces and ducking waves with my father, and getting an annual “Lets teach Nat how to surf this summer-though we all know this is only going to last one day” lesson from my older brother.
The ocean was and to this day still is, a haven for me. As a over-dramatic teenager, if I ever needed to escape my life at home, school, or even my own head, there was always one place I could turn to – The ocean.
When I started traveling I started to realize how much I took the ocean in all its beauty for granted. When I moved to New York in the middle of January when I was 19, I was deluded at the idea of being in a new place, making it on my own in this immaculate city. I could be who ever I wanted to be and do whatever I wanted to do.
It only then dawned on me that, who I was; was a beach girl.
I missed falling asleep to the waves crashing on the shore and the way the sand blended the color of my skin into the ground. I missed eating mangoes on the rocks and washing the sticky residue off in the rock pools after finishing it.
My hair was dry and brittle after 2 months of living in NY, something I was not use too. The salt water leaves my curls so perfectly intact that after a swim in the ocean on a summers day in Australia, I don’t even bother showering.
I quickly learnt that the bittersweet mechanisms of traveling is that you experience new things, (the sweet part) whilst sometimes still missing and craving your usual surroundings.
Fast forward almost 2 years later from living in NY, when I am lying on a beach on Thailands gorgeous island Koh Tao. My hair hasn’t been washed for weeks and the salt water on my sunburnt skin is slowly sliding off my body and evaporating from the heat.
The ocean, is a wonderful. luxurious gift from mother nature. We all benefit from it SO much.
Since touching down in Europe I may have, from time to time, complained about the weather a little… but in a ever-so-cute way to most people surrounding me. I complain with delight, as I of course am enjoying myself thoroughly. My urges for the ocean are just still very strong, and I have been known to go a little insane, (ok more so then usual) when not interacting with the sea regularly.
After over 8 cold cities later I finally decided to throw myself South. Landing in Portugals great historical city Lisbon, the sun beaming and my eyes glaring. I may still be wearing a winter coat, a scarf, and woolen socks, but I had the sun on my skin once again.
I couldn’t wait to head further South of Lisbon to the Algarves. I caught a bus to Lagos where I am now couch surfing with a super cool Portugese/Swedish 27 year old.
Today as the sun lit the sky and I walked across the sand bare feet, through the picturesque caves, picking up shells as I walked, I smiled at what I was about to do.
I threw down my bag, stripped down to my bra and undies and ran into the small waves.
I hadn’t felt waves crush upon my skin since Mexico, over 2 months ago. It was heavenly, cold, but heavenly. To spit out the sweet salt water from my mouth and dive under the water to only push my body up as fast as I could, gasping for my breath as the cold surrounded my body.
The surfers entering the water with their wetsuits on looked at me as if I was mad and laughed along with me, a women walking along the shore with her little girl started talking to me, telling me I was very ‘game’.
I felt instantly stronger, clearer and just generally better through out my whole body.
The therapeutic rush lasted all the while I walked back from the beach to where I was staying and continued onwards until long after my shower and afternoon nap. Revitalizing and always spiritually connecting me to myself.
Regardless of what time of year it is, what head space your in, or where you are in the world, if an ocean presents itself to you, you always run forward, no fear, in preparation of a fulfilling few moments to share with yourself, and with others.
Here are my top 7 reasons to jump in the ocean, even in a European winter:
1. The ocean will make your skin glow and your hair shine-The salt water splashing upon your skin will leave you feeling refreshed and awakened. Have any skin problems? There is a reason why salt baths are a rapidly growing source of healing. Call it the placebo effect or call it the wonders of nature, the ocean will help heal any scars you have (mentally as well as physically) and leave you smiling and shining.
2. The ocean is a source of natural endorphins-Seriously, try and find someone who has had a swim in some salt water and hasn’t felt tremendously great after it! Feeling blue or not yourself, take a load off; sit by the ocean, your toes squirming in the sand, then just dive right in! You will leave the beach feeling energized and fresh. There is no way you will exit the ocean with a frown, its just inhumane!
3. You’ll feel a higher connection to the world around you-Our ocean makes up around 70% of our earths surface. There is a glorifying connection we have as humans to the ocean. Next time your swimming in it try thinking about how there is nothing between you and another continent then and there besides the ocean.
4. Our sea life is truly one of the greatest wonders of the world (to me anyway)-The world amongst our ocean is something of that I cannot understand. With its beautiful eccentric creatures great and small, the ocean is truly one of the most magical things in our entire existence. Watch the crabs swim as the waves crash or the dolphins play out in the distance. Its truly something that we as humans should respect more and not take for granted.
5. Ocean based activities are the best-Surfing, sailing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, the list goes on and on. These are all fun and fulfilling sports to take part in that leaves you wanting more and more.
6. You’ll get your Vitamin D intake-Humans are suppose to receive at least 30% of Vitamin D each (sucks for those living in Scandinavian countries over winter)… A trip to the sea will help you gain your minimum 30% and will also benefit your psychological self.
7. The ocean gets your blood pumping-If you need a little help boosting your circulation the ocean is a HUGE beneficial source of this. Watch as your body unveils itself to the sea and you feel your blood flowing freely.
So there it is, my top seven reasons to jump in that ocean! After evaluating all my favourite things about the sea, I am going to put on my swimmers and go jump into the ocean right now! See that photo below of Lagos thats where I’M about to swimming, where in the world will you next jump into the sea?
Praia Dona Ana, Lagos, Portugal