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A trip to the beach is a vacation for the senses.

The bright-colored stilt houses lining the shore. The waves reminiscent of my sleepy time noise-generating app.

The saltwater in my mouth. Yuck.

But do you ever stop to smell the beach?

There is surely the general scent of the Gulf of Mexico – a mixture in the ocean breeze that makes me hungry for some fried Gulf shrimp. These particular smells, gathered from a conglomerate of day trips to Surfside Beach over the past few weeks, populate my olfactory memory as much as my mom’s stuffed bell peppers slapping me in the nostrils when I walked into my home as a child.


One of the few smells I (unfortunately) literally take home with me.

Whether washed ashore being picked apart by seagulls or flopping in some angler’s empty ice chest, the beach offers a variety of stenches related to the dead or nearly dead ocean life found along the shore.

My dog Tina finds them when we’re walking in the sand. Her go-to move is to roll around in it, an apparently ancient instinct to disguise herself as her prey.

Trust me, Tina’s not that smart. She’s afraid of the waves.

Stinky (and dumb) as she can be though, some of the best days I’ve had at the beach have ended with me washing her down in my bathtub. Gross, fond memories.


Conceding this scent is not exclusive to the beach.

I choose Surfside over other beaches (like Galveston) because I like driving on the sand, particularly being able to park and not have to carry my stuff down the seawall. I’m a lazy bum most days, so I’d rather spend the extra 10 minutes on a drive down Texas Highway 288 and $12 on an annual beach pass than walk down a flight of stairs.

Emissions from cars, trucks and ATVs come with the territory.

One minute, you’re laying peacefully on your blanket, reading as you catch some rays. The next, a lifted Silverado is barreling a foot from your head followed by a wave of CO2.

I’m not trying to paint this place like Daytona Beach but don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Save the easiest for last, right?

I have a bad relationship with sunscreen. My friends constantly bug me to use it properly (and the right kind) when I’m out in the sun, and I try in earnest to remember.

While I’m not the best at remembering to use it, sunscreen is one of those smells that reminds you of good times.

A walk to the neighborhood pool with my older siblings after begging them all summer to take me. Family trips to WaterWorld, the sister water park attached to AstroWorld.

I’d like to think that in the future, I’ll smell sunscreen and remember socially distanced trips to the beach with my friends during the pandemic of 2020.

Source: The smells of Surfside Beach – Houston Chronicle