Snow-Covered Peaks Or Endless White Sands?

Derek Perspectives 32 Comments

For centuries, travelers the world over have had to deal with an endless variety of daunting obstacles. But the truth is, there is only one particular challenge that holds the key to determining the course and outcome of one’s journey. And if not taken seriously, even the most well-prepared and confident of explorers will be left stranded, with only a troubled mind and a tortured soul to guide them through endless days of aimless wandering.

If we want to fulfill the greatest potential of our travels, we must look the problem square in the eyes and make a decision. We might have a pocket full of cash, a brand new backpack stuffed with all the latest travel gadgets and an airplane ticket in hand, but how can we possibly proceed without contemplating the age old question…

Mountains or beach?

Yes, that’s right, do you prefer the mountains or the beach? Without knowing the answer to this question, a question that has been posed to us ever since our teenage years, how can you devise a respectable travel itinerary? To what destination shall you attempt to reach?


For me, the answer has always been beach. If I had my choice, I prefer to head towards the coast, to step onto white sands, stare out over turquoise waters and re-charge my life by the rays of the sun (and swing in a hammock if at all possible). At the beach, I am forced to relax, to breathe more slowly and to let the sound of the waves remind me that happiness really has nothing to do with material possessions at all.

And the communities I’ve visited, those that have sprung up along the beautiful shorelines of the world, tend to be some of the most laid-back, easy-going settlements I’ve encountered. Life by the beach moves at a calm, peaceful and healthy pace as the pressures, stress and delusions of modern life seem to stay far, far away.

As you can tell, I love everything about the beach, and I go out of my way during my travels to find those perfect slices of paradise, the sight of which forces me to rub my eyes and pinch my arm in order to prove that such a beautiful place really does exist.


In all fairness, the mountains of the world are not exactly landforms to be taken lightly, and to anyone who chooses mountains over beach, I certainly do not hold you in disregard. Far from it.

To be standing high above sea-level, mingling with the clouds that once seemed so unreachable, and surrounded by towering peaks demanding attention, can be a superbly sublime experience.

One glance across an endless mountain landscape and the trivial problems that consume our daily lives suddenly seem to disappear. It’s a natural cure, one composed of shocking isolation coupled with disbelief that the world we’ve lived in for so long is now completely hidden from us so far below.

Our lungs fill with the purest of air, our eyesight seems to lose all limitation and for a brief moment, we understand the wisdom in the wind-beaten faces of those who call the mountains their home.


If you had to choose today to travel to one of the most stunning white-sand beaches of the world or to the unimaginable heights of the mighty Himalayas, which would it be?

Of course, the beauty of this dilemma, of this question – mountains or beaches? – is that the answer is not limited to only those two options. Perhaps it’s the desert that mesmerizes you, the world’s largest cities, the rain forest, museums, tea plantations, religious structures or even a long stretch of farmland full of cows and sheep.

Whatever it is, I’d love to know what gets your heart racing, causing you to start dreaming wild dreams of dropping everything, packing your bag and taking off at once…

Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. Sign up below for personal stories, real advice and useful updates from my adventures. Only good stuff, no nonsense.

Are you ready to earn money and travel?

How to Work on a Cruise Ship and Travel eBooksClick above and get started!

Comments 32

  1. We love going to the mountains and taking part in a really hard trek and then heading to the beach to relax and enjoy after the fact. We absolutely love climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kinabalu and then both time we went straight to the beach afterwards. From Kili we went to beautiful Zanzibar and Kinabalu we hit the gorgeous beaches of Borneo. It helped that we were invited by friends to enjoy their luxury bungalow in style.
    I have to say, we love both equally. The adventure makes us feel alive and the beach make us happy. But we always love to mix it up. We love snowboarding and we love surfing, we love trekking and we love laying in a hammock, We love it all!:-)
    .-= Dave and Deb´s last blog ..Our favorites from India: A Photo Story =-.

    1. Hey Dave and Deb – Ok, ok…you two definitely have it figured out! What a perfect way to combine the two.

      All of my mountain adventures seem to have taken place thousands of kms away from any beaches, so perhaps I need to head over to Borneo next time, which I somehow skipped on my last trip to SE Asia. Now I just need to make some friends who own a luxury bungalow!

    1. I like your style! It is often the effort involved in doing any activity during my travels that I remember more than the actual sight. Now I can see why you just had such a blast hiking around Tikal and the jungles of Guatemela!

  2. i do love green rolling hills and rice terraces, as well as overgrown jungles with hidden waterfalls, but beaches are still my favorite… the breeze that comes in from across the ocean is my favorite remedy for all sorts of ills, and the sound of the waves is the best lullaby.

    of course, the best beaches have rock-climbable cliffs nearby 🙂

    1. @Rose – Ahh…another Southern Thailand addict it seems with your love for beaches and rock-climbing! But I do agree, there is nothing like falling asleep to the sound of waves. It seems to instantly remove any stress and negative thoughts and bring nothing but peaceful rest, especially when there’s no other sound to be heard…

    1. @Anil – I’ve found that when staying at a beach for an extended period of time, there has to be another focus (learning a language, surfing, etc.) apart from just sitting at the beach all day. If there’s nothing to keep the days fresh and new, it can indeed get boring quite quickly. That is one bonus of the mountains – you can always wander off on a new trail and explore what it has to offer…

      Thanks so much for commenting Anil. I was thrilled to have found your site a couple month ago – it’s a never-ending source of travel inspiration!

  3. I have always been in-love with the beach. When I’m in the beach, I experience serenity and peace of mind. The sound of the ocean brings unexplained joy into my heart. 🙂

    1. Hey Walter – I know the feeling! I hope you live near a beach…or at least get the chance to be on one every now and then.

  4. This is a tough one! I love both…but in different ways. I absolutely love skiing, and for that you obviously need mountains. Just seeing the enormity of mountains and their presence is awe inspiring for me. Definitely something I appreciate since I grew up in the midwest. I lived in Colorado as a ski bum for a month while I was in college and I was tempted to drop out and continue my ski bumming adventures (in hindsight, maybe I should have 🙂

    As for the beach…I love it for every one of the reasons you mention above. The serenity, and peacefulness of the beach is something I very much enjoy. I certainly don’t plan on doing much more than relaxing, meditating, yoga and eating at some good restaurants during my upcoming Mexico trip. It will be great!
    .-= Nate´s last blog ..A Moment for Appreciation =-.

    1. A ski bum, huh? It’s never too late to return to that way of life my friend! Although, I guess you’re next trip will allow you to be a beach bum, which of course is not a bad thing whatsoever. I’m mastering that ‘skill’ much faster than the spanish language.

      And I love how you threw in ‘eating at good restaurants’ as an attraction for your upcoming trip…good local food definitely plays a major role in most of my adventures as well.

  5. I really like both!

    – Moutains = goes together with a nice cabin with a nice fire, and a great lake…

    – Beach = Sun tan, swimming…

    I could live 10 months per year in a place with a beach, and the rest somewhere with beautiful mountains and lakes! =)

    1. Hey Liz – I know, it’s not really a fair question! But 10 months by the beach and 2 in the mountains would not be a terrible lifestyle at all…I’d sign up for that plan!

  6. Earl,

    I have to say…. I fell in love with the whole scene in Big Sur, CA! The drive along the mountains/cliffs was extremely intense but the view was incredible. You could see how high you were, how further high the mountains go and then on the other side, I could see the blue-green water.

    I’d say the beach was my fav. except it’s either too windy or too hot 😉 Mountains are incredible to view though…. guess the scenery as a whole driving through CA was incredible.
    .-= Moon Hussain´s last blog ..Are You Embarrassed Of Saying “Passive Income” Out Loud? =-.

    1. Hey Moon – That brings back some memories of my first drive up along the coast of California. It is such a beautiful journey especially when you stop and explore along the way. It’s the best of both worlds – beaches and mountains!

  7. Haha! This post reminds me of my marriage! I’m a beach girl, 100%. Grew up in Costa Rica, went to school in Southern California. The beach is where my soul comes alive. Jeff is a mountaineer! An Alpinist… an ice climber… I’m pretty sure he melts in warm temps. We’ve had a decade of marriage, dancing around the issue of whether we should visit (or live at) the beach or the mountains.

    Admittedly, both are beautiful, but… when there is definitely a preference, it gets pretty tough. No easy answers, I’m afraid. 😉
    .-= Lisis´s last blog ..Remaining Calm in Stressful Situations =-.

    1. That’s really funny…I could see how that would make the decision tough. I guess you could just move to a place with beaches backed by mountains. You go for a stroll on the sand, he goes for a climb and you meet back for lunch – New Zealand comes to mind!

      1. Funny you should mention that, Gordie was just telling me (on Facebook) that we could move to New Zealand, to his commune, since I’m all up in arms about our “broken” systems in the States. Perhaps it’s a sign that we should head there next.

        I was also thinking maybe Bhutan, not for the beaches, obviously, but for the Happiness Factor. ‘Any thoughts on Bhutan?

        1. I actually had emails from two separate friends in my inbox this morning each telling me they were thinking about moving to NZ as well…weird!

          Bhutan…I’ve never been but am definitely curious about their idea of Gross National Happiness. The people I know who have visited have all been deeply affected by their time there. Typically, they enter the country skeptics and leave as believers!

    1. Hey Osborne – That’s a valid point, that the location isn’t as important as the actual moment in time. I definitely agree with that.

      And I’ve heard of some crazy excursions, but that volcano/helicopter/molten lava/bungee jump is by far the most insane! Dream vacation? Not sure about that, but I will say that after reading the page several times over, it did start to become more and more appealing…

        1. I would imagine that’s about as extreme as it gets for any adrenaline junkie. If you do take that trip, I hope you’d consider writing about it on this site – assuming you survive of course!

  8. Hi Earl,
    I love nature beauty. Mountains, beaches, cliffs, rivers, forests. Possibly with a great story about the formation of the place. I enjoy sunsets. For human creation, I’m drawn to archaeological sites and museums. Relating the remnants with the stories, history, and myths behind (Greece was a glorious place for this). Painting Museums, I love that too, even though not too much from the Picasso time forward. Since you mention the sheeps and cows, yes, I love the stretch of hills and valley full with cows and sheeps, like in NZ 🙂
    .-= Dina´s last blog ..Transatlantic cruises for backpackers: a way to see more and pay less =-.

    1. Hey Dina – It seems like there’s nothing that you don’t love! But that’s a great attitude to have…to feel connected with all of nature, cows and sheep included…

      1. I guess, I’m not so much into with bars, pubs, and drinking parties. I don’t like tourist traps that lacking content (but if it a trap with a real gem underneath, I’ll still do it).

        I used to love beach too the most, but that was because I lived so close to Bali. The Canadian Rockies and the Swiss Alps made me fell in love with snow capped mountains. I have to give New Zealand the credits for fabulous geological and volcanic formations, also the sheeps and cows 🙂
        .-= Dina´s last blog ..Transatlantic cruises for backpackers: a way to see more and pay less =-.

  9. With me it’s architecture that gets my heart racing. I just love wandering through old medieval cities, but just as much enjoy looking up at modern skyscrapers. It doesn’t need to be a city either – a small village with a castle or church will do just as well.
    On top of that I love travelling by train. Doesn’t matter where I go, as long as I am in a train.

    1. Hi Maria – Thanks for sharing! I love wandering around old cities as well as every building seems to tell its own unique story. But I like how you mentioned modern skyscrapers…if you really have a look and contemplate how such a structure comes into existence, it is truly mind-boggling…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.