Believe it or not, there is a strange breed of people who never lie down at the beach. Maybe they aren't tired, or forgot to bring a book, or have an aversion to nostril sand, but they hardly ever touch their towels. Instead, the beach is their launching pad for adventure -- for swimming pier to pier, running miles through the whitewater, snorkeling, and digging for volleyballs. If you can relate, here's some innovative new gear worth lugging along.
-- Roy M. Wallack
Vincere Sand Socks: Split-toed Lycra sock with 3mm neoprene bottom that is designed to protect feet from the abrasion of hot sand or rocky water lines
Likes: The thin neoprene provides good protection while maintaining ground feel. Ideal for volleyball and newly popular sports like sand soccer. Won't come off even in rough surf due to Velcro ankle cuff. Thin enough to wear in a sandal or shoe.
Price: $24.99. (877) 846-2373; www.sandsocks.net.
Finis Rapid Monofin: Two-footed, mermaid-like fin that provides strikingly powerful thrust and speed for pool and ocean diving/snorkeling use.
Likes: Great for both training and recreation, it makes your body up to three times as fast (up to 8 mph) as conventional paired fins because it uses the largest leg muscles, instead of just the calves and ankles. In the pool, it helps competitive swimmers develop a powerful dolphin-like motion from the hips, not the knees, that lengthens the stroke and enhances ankle flexibility. Its ability to help you cover lots of ground and dive deeper on one breath makes it great for snorkeling giant coral reefs.
Dislikes: Mainly psychological; having both feet together initially gave me the illusion of being tied up. But the speed helps you get over it.
Price: $89.99 (smaller, female-oriented Wave model with a softer blade is $49.99). (888) 333-4647; www.finisinc.com.
AquaLung Sport Nautilus travel snorkel: Space-saving, roll-up snorkel.
Likes: You feel like a magician. Pull the clear silicone snorkel out of the 3 1/2 -inch diameter plastic shell and it instantly springs into a full-sized, fully functional snorkel, complete with regulator-quality mouthpiece. Rolls up quickly, like a tiny sleeping bag, and stuffs easily back into the shell. Includes a built-in button loop to attach it to a goggle strap.
Dislikes: If you misplace the shell, you've just got an expensive snorkel.
Price: $39. (800) 775-3483; aqualungsport.com.
Body Glove New Genre swim mask: Mask designed for competing in the rapidly-growing open-water swimming scene (now 600-plus races nationwide).
Likes: Lightweight, stylish and comfortable. Nice features, including a curved, wide-view lens with an anti-fog UV shield and hidden buckles for easy strap adjustment.
Dislikes: The silicone skirt surrounding the lenses may not be watertight if you have very deep-set eyes (like me). It worked perfectly leak-free for my son, though.
Price: $24.99. (800) 500-8292; destinationwater.com.
Wallack is the author of "Run for Life: The Anti-Aging, Anti-Injury, Super-Fitness Plan to Keep You Running to 100."