After some initial confusion brought on by an inexperienced hotel clerk, M & I found our way to Paradise Beach. Thankfully, the local driver we used during our stay, K, was able to explain everything (10 min drive south of the French Quarter, then a 5 min boat ride to a tiny barrier island).
Boat ride to beach island:
The Indian Ocean side beach was lovely, with small waves, refreshingly cool water, white sandy clean beaches. On the leeward side, the water was perfectly calm — which seemed to attract those “swimmers” fearful of the waves.
Indian Ocean/Bay of Bengal:
Aside from beautiful sand & surf, this was a unique beach experience. There were only half dozen or so other western (mainly French) tourists. Less than 30% of all the people on the beach were female. The Indian ladies modestly wore their saris or jeans & T-shirts to go “swimming”; not one Indian lady had a western style suit. On the opposite end of the spectrum, most of the men just striped down to their underwear to “swim” — some had western style board shorts or speedos, but the vast majority were in their skivvies. (I carefully avoided taking any photos of THAT!) A few –seemingly true gentlemen — wore their own jeans & tshirts as they went into the water with their girlfriends. Very gallant!
I’m using swim in quotes, because I didn’t see anyone actually swim. Or even float. People mostly stood around, knee- or chest-deep in the water. The life guards (ahem) were dressed like traffic cops (epaulets, belts, etc) and mostly walked up and down the beach with whistles and bull horns — and inexplicably, waving a big stick! They also seemed pretty old (perhaps beach duty is a plum pre-retirement gig?). I had no faith that they knew how to rescue swimmers – or that they could do so effectively in their get ups. Also, there was none of the traditional lifeguard apparatus in hand – no row boat, rescue board, life buoy…. Their main goal seemed to be to shout at “swimmers” to keep them standing very near to shore.