Our family of three and daughter’s friend recently embarked on what most would call a low-budget beach vacation. I shared a recent post about how we save money on vacation here. We had a blast despite our limited funds.

The ocean has a different personality each day it seems. I don’t ever remember it being the same day by day for as long as I’ve been going there, and that’s been since I was a small child. This year it was calm the day we arrived. The water was warm and peaceful with high tide arriving right around lunchtime. We arrived at our hotel around 11 a.m., got the parking pass from the office and walked up on the beach. Our motel is about a block from the beach and boardwalk. We ate our picnic lunch and stayed on the beach until around 4 p.m. After heading back to the hotel, checking in and cleaning up, we made our way up to the boardwalk.

Our first night there we enjoyed a delicious and mostly frugal and healthful meal. It’s my favorite boardwalk treat. Pizza. Well, actually it’s a Maruca’s Tomato Pie.

A perfect masterpiece of just right crisp crust, delicious sauce and yummy cheese that was just enough for the four of us. Even with a couple of drinks it was very affordable. You can watch the pizzas being made right in front of you while you dine in air-conditioned comfort right on the boardwalk. Everyone is always smiling and friendly too. We love it and make a beeline for it every year. It’s all the way down at the end of the boardwalk and worth every step.

Our second day on the beach started out very windy. There was a yellow flag at the beach patrol station which warned us about the moderately rough surf, and they weren’t kidding. The sun came out later in the day and we did end up braving the waves, but not without a few near casualties and near losses of bathing suits. It’s pretty bad when you have to choose between modesty and breathing. I’ve made a note to only wear one-piece bathing suits to the beach from now on. 😉

You can see how the rough surf carved out a chunk of beach.

It was more than a 2 ft drop, but just a little bit fun sliding down to get to the water. Once you made it to the water that was an obstacle in itself.

On our second night we went to a local family Italian restaurant for dinner. We found a coupon in the Beach Comber magazine we found in the hotel lobby. It was the buy one entrée get one free variety. The portions were huge and the food was delicious. I noticed many left with doggie bags. We had a frig and microwave in our room so we were able to do this too. We didn’t realize it when we entered the restaurant, but the cast of the TV show Jersey Shore was dining in the back. Although we are not fans, it was exciting to watch the interested patrons and their anticipation of maybe getting a glimpse of one of the cast.

We were welcomed by calmer water on our third and final day on the beach and spent a great deal of time in the water jumping the gentle waves. It was just enough days on the beach. Even with reapplication of sunblock, with all of that sun and sea spray, you start to get a little crispy around the edges. We left the beach with a promise to the ocean to return next year. Our third and final night was spent on the boardwalk taking in all of the sights and sounds, everyone choosing their favorite boardwalk foods to eat and riding go-carts. The boardwalk is a mile long. We more than walked off our supper walking up and down.

Our vacation came to a crescendo on the way home when we stopped at The Cheesecake Factory to spend some of the extra money that we did not need for the trip. It was neither frugal nor healthful, but a welcomed once a year treat. I opted for a more healthful chicken and shrimp dish with brown rice. We ordered the cheesecake to go and packed it away in a cooler to keep it safe on the rest of the trip home.

We had a fantastic time for what most would certainly feel was just a little bit of money as far as vacations are concerned.

How do you vacation?

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