The drive south from San Jose, California to Carmel-by-the- Sea is a scenic stretch of highway ideally suited for beefy sports cars, especially those of the supercharged convertible variety. It was here, behind the wheel of one particular speedy ragtop, that I found myself at the beginning of a week-long vacation at an oceanside villa in Carmel, and I was doing my best to get there in a hurry. After a year of living in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, I was anxious to dive into the ocean again. As a kid growing up on the East Coast, summers were spent at the beach, one in particular in  Gloucester, Massachusetts, where rock outcroppings and an outgoing tide provided hours of Jacques Cousteau-like moments. As I got older, Newport, Rhode Island reeled me in with its surf and nightlife. Now, a quiet beach with easy rolling waves is all I need to put me at ease. But in that car, speeding south to Carmel with my foot jammed on the gas pedal, it seemed as if I were on my way to the best beach in the world. It wasn’t so much what I had been told about the beach, but what I hadn’t been told. Would I meet Clint Eastwood? Would I play at Pebble Beach? Would my life somehow change dramatically? At the very least, I hoped to catch a few waves in the crystal-clear blue Northern California water. And after a year of snow and mountains, that was all that mattered to me. But the reality of the best beach eluded me. Shortly after arriving at the villa, my earlier roadside pit stop caught up to me. The emergency room doctors would later say that my severe stomach pains were caused by tainted lettuce and after five days of bed rest, my Carmel-by-the-bathroom vacation was over. No beach, no golf, and no Clint Eastwood. Perhaps finding that best beach is a state of mind, an untouchable place that only exists in our imagination. Or maybe not. In this issue, we take you to 15 beaches (“The Best Beaches,” page 52), where oceanfront living is more than just a state of mind; it’s the best investment your sun-drenched dollar will ever make. Let us know what you think. Where’s your best beach? Head over to and tell us about it.

By Jack Morris, Editor