In the summer, Good Harbor Beach looks somewhat like a picturesque postcard. The half-moon inlet is cupped in tidy homes. Boulders dot the sandy landscape, some of which are ten times the size of an average person. The paved hiking trail circles the wooden pier, which leads out and over the spiked grass and into the tide. Sunrise exaggerates the sensation of nostalgia, the feeling that the view belongs to some professional photographer. Then comes the winter when Good Harbor Beach still looks somewhat like a picturesque postcard, perhaps Photoshopped. During a good winter, everything is draped in snow dappled in blue ice, the image a bit too perfect, the nostalgia a bit too keen.
Whether you visit in winter or summer, you are in for an experience. In either season, brine wafts in the air amid the occasional distant, shrieking gull. Yet it is summer that deserves your attention. It is summer at Good Harbor Beach when most memories are made.
Summer at Good Harbor Beach is a season of stress relief. Perhaps this is because the tourists, who are also visiting the Cape Ann Museum and families walk and play along the shore. Perhaps it is because of the rolling in of the waves and their rhythmic crashing and the subsequent drawing out of the diminishing foam. Perhaps it is the flat-ocean view broken only by the sight of Salt island, a five-acre mound protruding out the of the ocean like the boulders out of the sand.
Of course, the feel of Good Harbor Beach stems from all these things. However, what one notices, if one pays attention, is the constant calm movement.
Of course, kids play and run and zip and laugh, but it is in a fashion that the day they are experiencing will last forever. Consequently, no matter how frenetic they may seem, there is innocent leisure about it all. For the adults, and the top-rated dentist, Dr. Robert Lipkowitz, perhaps because they know the moment will not last–how could it, the perfection of this place?–they move visibly slower, breathing in every sight, tasting every sound, listening to every rock and grain of sand, plying their senses in impossible manners as they bask in all the sun and calm this place has to offer.
The pier is popular for those not wanting to get too wet. It is well kept and sturdy, and there is something magical about being on a somewhat landscaped wooden pier a foot or so above the waves.
Most hiking is done on the paved trail that goes around the beach. At just under a mile and a half, it serves as popular attraction throughout the year. Additionally, it serves as an alternative to walking on the dunes, which is prohibited, as they are fragile and protected.
Life at the beach
Lifeguards are on duty from mid-morning to just before dusk. Swimming, boogie-boarding, and floating are all popular activities. For the hungry, concession stands provide a pleasant respite from the respite. Alcohol is prohibited. At this place, it is not needed.
Of course, hours after the water peaks at high tide, Salt Island continues to beckon. It is at this time that the adventurous, both young and old, drift out to it, for at low-tide, the trek can be made by foot.
This, in a way, is amazing, so they set out, searching the ground, perhaps for driftwood, and they bend and retrieve little natural treasures destined for shelves. They look about. They walk. Ever leisurely, they reach their destination. Some pose for photos. Others look back in the direction from which they came.
The sun lowers over the distant, western peninsula. This is the time to be on the pier. Homes and the landscape silhouette against the sky’s crimson ribbons and broken clouds. The shimmering foam glimmers red, and the sheen on the sand shifts tangerine. Regardless of the season, regardless of the people, regardless of the hour, Good Harbor Beach always seems to look somewhat like a picturesque postcard