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Beyond the Pail

Sunday, May 17, 1998; Page E01


When you take a beach vacation, you usually know precisely what you're getting into: sand, saltwater, sunscreen, seafood, a few brain-dead overnights in a scruffy place featuring wicker furniture, an air conditioner that sounds like a chain saw and at least one glass urn filled with seashells. French fries, outlet shopping, more sunscreen, sand, saltwater

. . . Repeat until tender, or until the calendar says it's time to four-wheel it back to the land of ergonomic workspaces and halogen lighting.

Except now we're going to change all that.

On the following pages, we expand the horizons of a beach vacation by offering alternative activities that can be undertaken either alongside, or instead of, your typical stay at any of our region's beaches. You might not think that a visit to Ocean City, say, will permit you to roam the quiet streets of two quaint historic towns. Or that not far from the slick Victoriana of Cape May, you can check out the action at a popular clothing-optional beach. Virginia Beach may be the area's only sandspot with a real city attached, but head just a few miles out from the restrained signage and hotel blocs to find some of the most pristine, muck-slopping eco-touring opportuniies on the East Coast. Headed to Delaware's "quiet resorts"? Strap on an oxygen tank and dive a historic shipwreck. Thinking Nags Head? Think traps, not dunes, and pack your clubs.

In addition to these ideas, we've also included a handy chart that -- in collaboration with the work of our friends at The Post's Weekend section -- provides the lowdown on each of the major beach communities you're likely to go to this summer. Our Beach-O-Matic tells you everything you need to know about the beaches that require some "travel": those in New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina. We provide driving times, details on accommodations and attractions, price ranges and -- more important, we like to think -- help you find the "right" beach for you. Weekend's chart, which was published Friday, provides a similarly detailed cheat sheet on the beaches in Delaware and Maryland. Together we report on more than 300 miles of Atlantic coast shoreline. Somewhere along the way, you should be able to find a place where you can get beyond the pail.

Or, if you prefer, just hang around with it.

Beyond the Pail Index

button Cape May, N.J./ Skin City
button Corolla, N.C./ Four-Wheel Drives
button Eastern Shore/ Active Athletics
button Fenwick Island, Del./ Shipwreck Dives
button Hatteras, N.C./ Fish Scene
button Lewes, Del./ Colonial Past
button Ocean City, Md./ Victoriana
button Outer Banks, N.C./ Sand Traps
button Rehoboth, Del./ Non-Outlet Shopping
button Spring Lake, N.J./ Jersey-er Than Thou
button Virginia Beach/ Back to Nature
button Wildwood, N.J./ Whale-Watching

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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