Going to the beach is one of the best things to do in the winter.

You’re probably thinking, the whole reason people go to the beach is to swim and have fun in the sun. Why would anyone want to go in the coldest time of the year? Trust me, I have always thought that too. That is, until the last week of December.

On December 27, I headed to Alligator Point Florida. It’s a tiny place, full of nothing but private beaches. It’s like a beachside subdivision. We went down there to attend a family reunion, which meant our beach house was surrounded by family members all going to the same gathering. Why did we all wait until winter to do something like that? Well, that was the only time majority of us were available, since it was during the holiday season.

Florida, in my mind, is always in a constant state of summer. Logically, I realize how seasons work, but since childhood, I always think of sunny days and breaking waves. Unfortunately for me, Alligator Point was cold. I was taken back and highly disappointed. My mom had told me to pack warm, so it should not have been such a big surprise. It struck me for the first time, who the hell goes to the beach during winter?

Our beach house was lovely. My family was incredible. The oceanic views: priceless. I cannot describe to you how freeing it is to not feel pressure to put on a bathing suit and stay in the ocean for hours on end.

I’m no photographer, beyond the occasional Instagram post, but I really enjoyed taking photos on my trip. I didn’t realize how much I usually miss until I took the time to really look around. I have always been used to hopping in the ocean and not coming out of the water until we left the beach. That is what I always believed you were supposed to do at the beach. Well, that and building sandcastles. However, I truly got to see a different side of the ocean when I could not get in it.

I took strolls on the beach, letting the wash barely brush my feet. The water was freezing, but the company and scenery were excellent. The sand was cool to the touch, so I wasn’t doing that awkward run/tiptoe maneuver that you do in an attempt to not scald the bottom of your feet. It was nice to walk from my great-aunt’s beach house and down the sandy path to the water. It was leisurely and lazy rather than quick-paced and salty.

Not to mention, at night I would lay back on the bed porch swing (you read that right) and listen to the waves, while I snuggled under a blanket. It’s a whole new experience to be cold at the beach, because you have to bundle up, but also you can hear waves. It throws you off, but it’s such a peaceful experience.

It sounds weird, and it might just not be your thing, but it is a highly unique opportunity to kick back. If you usually wouldn’t go to the beach because you don’t like to get in the ocean, or have just wanted to experience something new, I highly recommend heading to Florida in the winter time. It will give you a whole new look on beaches.