For my summer as a choir groupie, I had the choice of watching my friends from the Ateneo Chamber Singers compete in either Latvia or Spain. I always jump at the chance to scratch a new country off our scratch map, so we picked Latvia. My research led me to the resort town of Jurmala, which boasted an 11-kilometer stretch of white, sandy beach just 20 minutes from Riga. I thought: “Perfect!”
Okay, the Baltic coast isn’t quite the same as the Costa Blanca. And maybe I did feel a twinge of envy seeing my friends living it up on the blindingly sunny beaches of Spain. But I have no reason to regret our visit to Jurmala.
I found Jurmala quiet, lovely, and relaxed—a formula for the kind of vacation that doesn’t make you need another vacation just to recover from it. (When school holidays begin in August, maybe not so much.) Beautiful soft golden sand, plenty of space to share, liquid gold sunsets and cocktails on the beach? Meets my basic requirements for a beach. I’ll take it.
The most unique thing about Jurmala are its 19th-century wooden houses. From grand old mansions to weather-beaten cottages, they add a touch of old charm to the seaside atmosphere.
To attract its wealthy Russian neighbors, Jurmala is seeing an upswing in luxury boutique hotels and low-rise residential condominiums. Many of the old houses have also been turned into tourist accommodation.
But plenty of families still live here, especially outside the main town of Majori, and because of a strong local community, there’s much authenticity to be found.
In this relaxed little town, we enjoyed a wonderful three days of family time in the sun. These are the moments you treasure.