Beach vs. Mountains: The Pros and Cons

The Great Vacation Debate

Anse Chastanet.

Ever since couples have had the luxury of deciding where to take their honeymoon or a romantic vacation, a beach vs. mountains debate has raged. Both locations have appealing qualities, yet each member of a couple may have a strong preference for one over the other.

How to Decide Where to Go

By comparing the qualities and differences between a trip to the beach and one to the mountains based upon your personal preferences and using the table below, you can find it easier to make a decision.

Compare Beach vs. Mountains

Warmer Cooler
Sandy Rocky
Sunnier Shadier
May be crowded May be secluded
Many lodging options Fewer lodging options
Humid Air Fresh, dry air
Water Views Long Views
Sound of waves Sound of wind
Sunning, swimming, windsurfing, parasailing, boating Hiking, nature photography, mountain biking
Water skis Snow skis
Boogie boards Snowboards
Flippers Hiking boots, snowshoes
Bathing suits a necessity Extra layers a necessity
May encounter wild parties May encounter wild animals

Reasons to Avoid the Beach or the Mountains

  • If someone has very fair skin or has dealt with melanoma, a beach is not the ideal choice
  • Don't like to walk around in a bathing suit? Cover up with cool-weather gear
  • Have breathing problems? A significant altitude change can exacerbate them
  • Like to hike? Mountain vacations pay off with romantic views from on high
  • Hate to hike? Choose to bake on the beach instead
  • What's the temperature? Someone who's always cold will appreciate a hot tropical beach, while someone who starts to perspire when the thermometer reaches 70 will want to head for the cool hills
  • Love crowds? Choose a popular beach in the summer. Hate them? You can spread out and avoid groups of people when you hike most mountain trails
  • Adore attractions? Other than the view and the mountain high you may get, there's not much in the way of attractions. Beaches, on the other hand, may be adjacent to a boardwalk, hotel, or shack where you can get a refreshing drink

Where to Find Both a Beach and Mountains

Does your destination have to be an either/or decision? Of course not: You can split your time away between the beach and the mountains — or choose a place where the mountains and the beach are relatively close and can both be accessed during one visit:

St Lucia, with its Pitons; Jamaica, with its Blue Mountains; and Hawaii, with Mount Haleakala, all meet that description.

Beach vs. Mountains in the Off Season

Even if you're strictly a mountain man or a beach babe (or the reverse), there's something to be said for visiting these areas after the crowds disperse. It's a totally different experience. For one thing, prices drop. It's a lot cheaper to visit these destinations then.

Mountain resorts in the summer have made a big effort to still attract visitors with everything from outdoor swimming pools (heated if necessary) to zip lines. Ski trails become a magnet for hikers and mountain bikers, and restaurants that were impossible to get into during snow season are much more welcoming after it melts.

As for the beach in the off season: Some people simply love walking along the sand sans crowds. Just know that in some beach destinations, restaurants and tourist businesses may close down until the season starts up again.

What's Important

Whether you ultimately decide to go down to the beach or up to the mountains, make it a fair compromise so that both of you feel heard and satisfied with the decision. You can also:

  • Agree that your next vacation will take place at the other destination
  • Split decision: Spend part of your time at the beach and the rest of it at a higher elevation
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