S’more, s’more, s’more, how do you like it, how do you like it? Hawaii delivers black sand, big surf and Papa’s favorite beach When it comes to diver- sity in its beach culture, Hawaii stands alone. Oahu boasts calling-card Wakaki and the surfer’s favorite, North Beach. On Oahu, you’ll find Hamoa Beach, which Ernest Hemingway once called the world’s best beach. The Big Island includes the iconic black- sand beaches, and Kauai is known for hidden beaches that rest below the jagged peaks of the Na Pali Coast. What started off as a way for Jennifer Morkert to do some- thing special for an NTA tour operator has turned into a popular ongoing activity for groups staying at the Elizabeth Oceanfront Suites in Newport, Oregon. A few years back, Morkert put together a beach bonfire—a traditional activity enjoyed by locals—that included toasting s’mores, and she’s been doing it ever since. “Our beaches are not overly crowded, but on a nice night you will see couples, families and visitors watching the sunset and hearing the waves crash. Now, you also see tour groups there relaxing and roasting marshmallows for s’mores on the beach. Some clients have never done this, and others say it brings up childhood memories.” A grand time at the Grand Strand Thanks to its wide-open stretches of sand, kitschy board- walk, renowned amusement parks and championship golf courses, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, remains a top draw for sun seekers. Groups craving live entertainment can enjoy a show at NTA-member attractions, the Alabama Theatre and The Carolina Opry. PARK Goin’ mobile for Mardi Gras Mobile, Alabama, stakes claim to having hosted America’s first Mardi Gras celebration back in 1703. The tradition continues each year during the two weeks that culminate on Fat Tuesday. The event fills the seaside city’s down- town with the sights and sounds of marching bands and decorative floats, from which masked krewe members throw beads, doubloons and confections to eager onlookers. The southern part of Maine has 30 miles of white sand beaches and seaside towns with all the classic New England amenities: locally owned inns, lobster shacks and light- houses. Between the popular coastal cities of Ogunquit and Kennebunkport is Wells Reserve at Laudholm. This 2,250-acre nature sanctuary includes hiking and walking trails that pass through mature forests and barrier islands en route to Laudholm Beach. Surf’s up, dude The sunny sands of L.A.’s Redondo Beach get pretty crowded each summer during the five-day International Surf Festival. In addition to its signature lifeguard competitions, the popu- lar August event includes surfing contests, paddleboard races, volleyball tournaments and a pier-to-pier swim. The shrimp boat soon will be making another run Abundant fresh seafood and more than 60 miles of sandy beaches make Mississippi’s Gulf Coast popular with groups. In addition to sampling the catch of the day at local restau- rants, travelers can take a behind-the-scenes look at the sea- food industry during a cruise with a shrimp boat captain or as part of a visit to a catfish farm. 30 December 2017 So much more in southern Maine Channel your inner inventor and the Outer Banks Wilbur and Orville Wright made history in 1903 when their glider took flight in Kitty Hawk, a coastal city in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Groups visiting Wright Brothers National Memorial can see the hill where that famous flight took place, view exhibits on the brothers’ early experiments and see replicas of test gliders. Come for the view, stay for the food The NTA membership includes two seaside dining spots on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts that blend regional cuisine with great ocean views.