MOST of the time, I love last minute planning and ‘on the fly’ adventure travel. Usually, we find awesome places and things to do and see. When we finish a trip, I frequently say that deciding on the spot made the trip better than pre-planning it. However, our most recent trip showed us the disadvantages of not planning, preparing and researching carefully for a trip.
As we drove toward the ocean, swimsuits on and ready to rock the waves, I looked up family-friendly beaches in Miami. I had heard that some beaches that were nude, gay, party beaches, etc. So I thought I would make sure it was family friendly. Those 2 words should do the trick, right?
South Beach came up as the most popular beach; NOT to be missed. I also read about a little park, Lummox park, on 12th street and Ocean, that is a great place for kids to play around. Seemed like a no-brainer. My husband dropped the kids and I off at the park. I sun-screened everyone while they played and he parked the car. Together, we went right behind the park to the ocean.
All the ingredients for a successful day on the beach were present. Hot sun…check; rolling waves… check; warm water….check; gorgeous, clean sand…. check;
We were absorbed in keeping our family together and finding a quick place to plant our stuff so we didn’t have to roll the stroller through sand any longer than absolutely necessary.
We plopped down, spread out our stuff and the kids and I ran to the ocean as fast as we could. Dave was occupied getting Whitney to stop crying and go to sleep despite the heat and sun. It was a moment of chaos for our family. And thus, we were completely oblivious to those around us.
When things finally calmed down and we looked around, we piece-by-piece discovered that we had unknowingly stumbled on to the gay-est beach in town. To our left, there were hundreds and hundreds of male couples sunbathing in speedos and short-shorts. To our right, lesbian couples tanned. The four lesbians right next to us (like 5 feet away) were sunbathing topless facing up. There wasn’t a child to be seen for miles. Men in skimpy swimwear showing tanned skin and feminine walk, chatted gayly (and I mean that in the happiest way). Women in thong bikini bottoms (*and by bottoms, I mean they didn’t actually have a bottom) caressed their partners.
We slowly realized that we had just planted our family in the middle of people who were not wanting to see a big Mormon-family with tons of kids running around. We felt so out-of-place with our 4 kids, a baby, our white un-toned bodies, my one-piece workout swimsuit and missionary hair-cuts. While those around us were lathering their bronzed bodies with bathing oils and donning the latest fashion sunglasses, we were sun-screening around hand-me-down stretched-out kid’s suits in the shade of our just given-to-us-umbrella. The closest I came to fitting in was when I breastfed– without my cover on! While we were not exactly shunned, several couples obviously picked up their stuff and moved 20 feet down the beach, away from our noisy children. We realized we were in the minority (or rather the ONLY) and felt very uncomfortable. But, because we only had an hour before we had to head out to the airport, we just stayed put and tried to enjoy the beach despite our obvious differences.
True to form, and much to our chagrin on every other part of our trip, our kids were oblivious to the people around them. They didn’t seem to notice anyone or anything except the waves, water, sand and toys. They didn’t miss having other kids to frolic in the waves with (but did miss the same-gender couples making out in the ocean because I started a seaweed war to distract them). My 4-year-old did beg to take her swimsuit top off, but as far as I could tell, that’s all they noticed.
As we left the beach, we were still wondering if it was, in fact, a gay beach or a special event or WHY there were so many in that area. We then noticed the rainbow flags flying loud and clear and soon learned via google that 12th street beach is the #1 Gay beach in Florida (and has been for 25 years). So glad we didn’t miss it, LOL!
And someday we will tell our children the story of the day we took our family to the Gay Miami beach.