The Austin shore: beachy fun in Centex
360 WAKEBOARD CLUB It should come as no surprise that our status as Third Coast has earned Austin the distinction of having its very own wakeboard club. The group meets every first Wednesday of the month at Ski Shores. Check their Web site for the full lowdown. www.360wakeboard.com
CARLOS'N CHARLIE'S Known as much for its welcoming, laid-back party atmosphere, sense of humor, and "Take It to the Top" 'ritas as it is for its frogs, C'nC's is Lake Travis' hopping night spot and live music venue. 5973 Hi-Line Rd., 512/266-1683. www.cncaustin.com
COPACABANA Habana owners Ron and Yasbei Flores didn't take any shortcuts when developing this little coffee shop that sits in front of the Great Outdoors Nursery and shares its lush landscaping. Get your fresh juice, mocha, or pastry and meander out the side door to experience the calm of a few soothing water fountains or learn about English thyme or Japanese maple trees. 2810 S. Congress, 512/462-2473.
FIVE OCEANS Can't afford that summer vay-cay to the Italian coast or Australia's Great Barrier Reef? Well, at least you can look like you went. From sunscreen and totes to bikinis and gifts, Five Oceans bring you men's, women's, and children's fashions and accessories from around the world. But, it supports the local scene as well. If runway items don't float your boat, the selection of vintage beach wear is sure to please. 1101 Music Ln., 512/447-3483. www.shopfiveoceans.com
HABANA How tropical can you get? How about savoring weekend breakfasts and guava milkshakes under a thatched-roof? Or scarfing an edifying platter of black beans and rice to the sounds of the Caribbean? The landscaping, a cooperative effort with neighbor the Great Outdoors Nursery, enhances this restaurant's island theme. A team of local artists created Habana's full-building mural, which shows hunky men lusting for bare beauties and said beauties dreaming of ... cervezas! Owners Ron and Yasbei Flores are from Spain and Cuba, respectively, and Yasbei's parents are two of the cooks. The couple plans to open a a Sixth Street location in the future. 2728 S. Congress, 512/443-4252.
HEADHUNTERS TIKI BAR Amidst all the bamboo, totem poles, and tribal tropical artifacts, you might expect to encounter crusty old salts like Jean Lafitte or Trader Vic, but in this very Austin version of a tiki bar, you're more likely to strike up a conversation with a local punk god or the bartender, Wendy, who writes for Rank and Revue, the Red River music zine. The music here isn't typical Tiki, either. The tunes run hot and cool, more along the lines of metal to hip-hop. The drinks, however, do go well with the decor. How's about a bowl of melon cordial, peach schnapps, Barcardi Limon, Barcardi 151, and real coconut, aka a "Virgin Sacrifice"? 720 Red River, 512/236-0188.
HIPPIE HOLLOW Slather the sunscreen all over everything, and we mean everything, because at Austin's only "nude beach," it's all about full disclosure. If you're curious, but not quite ready to drop trou, check out Hippie Hollow's page on the Travis County site for a virtual tour (sorry, G-rated!). Aside from its notoriety as Austin's "buff"-er zone, the Hollow is also known as party central for annual gay and lesbian Splash events. Even the BBC has noted Splash as the "ultimate gay excuse for a party." It's BYOB (glass prohibited) and clothing-optional, so it shouldn't be hard to imagine what happens each May and September when these primarily queer seasonal celebrations get heated. Comanche Trail, www.co.travis.tx.us/tnr/parks/hippe_hollow.asp
HULA HUT Two deck bars and plenty of outside seating make the Hula Hut a choice spot for in-town lakeside summertime 'ritas. The meals are sized to please, and the fish tacos make it all the more seaworthy. A "Hu La La," or a rummy fish bowl of liquor for two, brings tides of warmth and may satiate you 'till the next round. 3825 Lake Austin Blvd., 512/476-4852.
JUST ADD WATER Sip your complimentary bottle of S.Pellegrino from the "water bar" while selecting that perfect bathing suit from the vast array at the Arboretum's Just Add Water. Literally thousands of women's suits are available in all styles, colors, and most importantly, sizes (not all women are size 2!). Would you prefer a pink-and-black polka-dotted Tankini or a floral-print bikini? Why not mix and match two-piece separates? Or simply go for the traditional one-piece, including the slimming Miracle Suit by Vix. No summer outfit is complete without off-the-beach outerwear such as sandals, board shorts, and sun dresses. 10000 Research, #124, 512/346-2682.
KON TIKI THE FUN BOAT This July 4th on Lake Austin, the Kon Tiki, steered by Captain Richard MacDonald, is hoping for a victory in the "water war," aka the Boat Parade. When not in strict competition, the Kon Tiki is the luau-themed party boat with the bamboo roof cruising Lake Austin. Once you get your sea legs, it's great for an out-of-the-ordinary graduation or bachelor/ette party. It's BYOB, and catering can be arranged, cooked by the captain himself. Times are as flexible as a rubbery piece of calamari. Just call up and ask. Those who just want to take in the scenes on Lake Austin for a few hours can hop aboard for a sunset cruise, which leaves an hour before sunset, or set up an afternoon swimming excursion. Lake Austin Boulelvard and Enfield Road at Walsh Boat Landing, 512/217-0155. www.kontikithefunboat.com
LONESTAR BOAT CLUB For those who'd love to water ski if they could just afford it, check out this club. Wakeboards, water-skis, ski ropes, inner tubes, kneeboards, lifejackets and ski or pontoon boats, and the all-important maintenance and cleaning are yours for a $175 monthly fee, gasoline not included. Members are guaranteed access to a boat at least four times per month. Available slots include full weekdays and seven-hour periods on the weekends. Members can sign up as many times as they like beyond that, but only in four-slot increments. Paradise Cove Marina, 17141 Rocky Ridge Rd/, 512/784-7497. www.lonestarboatclub.com
LUCY'S BOATYARD Right next door to its cousin the Hula Hut (both restaurants are part of the Comida Deluxe dynasty), the Boatyard boasts a real fireplace and nautical decor to keep your motliest of crews shipshape while they enjoy delicious seafood and a great view of the lake. 3825 Lake Austin Boulevard, 512/651-0505.
THE PIER ON LAKE AUSTIN Watching underground liquor hit the lake must have been half the party when the building was bumpin' during Prohibition. According to their Web site, The Pier took over in 1958, and Austinites have been legally imbibing, enjoying live music and dining on American platters ever since. Sand volleyball leagues are organized through Club Monkey, a sport and social club for adults. Every Thursday welcomes Jazz Night May through August. Mondays and Tuesdays in June host teen and kid nights, respectively. 1703 River Hills Rd., 512/327-4562. www.pierlakeaustin.com
SCHLITTERBAHN Not only is this the biggest water park in the world, but it's also the home to the Boogie Bahn, the first-ever surfing ride. While the Bahn amps up the flow to 110,000 gallons per minute when the pros come to town, the usual 55,000 gallons will do beginners and Boogie addicts alike just right. So, whether you've got the power to walk on water or are just getting your sea-legs, this red diamond attraction is insanely fun, a little bit scary, and totally radical. 305 W. Austin St., 830/625-2351. www.schlitterbahn.com
SKI SHORES WATERFRONT CAFE Live music! Movies! The official meet-up spot for the 360 Wakeboard Club! What else did you expect from our very own trip "down the shore"? Well, to complete that coastal Jersey vibe, how's about a hot, fresh pizza made with luv? 2905 Pierce, 512/346-5915. www.skishores.com
SURFRIDER FOUNDATION Living in the center of the state, it's easy to forget that Texas is blessed with a ribbon of precious coastline. For Austinites who come from parts not so landlocked, the only thing missing in our dear city is a beach. The Surfrider Foundation quenches the thirst for surf with two Texas chapters. The added bonus of the national nonprofit is that it keeps surfers and their admirers in touch with environmental issues. Meridith Kohut, a surfer and photojournalism senior at UT, is our local chapter's volunteer coordinator. She says that this particular group chooses to stay politically active. According to Kohut, they "were involved in the recent lobbying efforts to protect the Texas Open Beaches Act, to keep the entire Texas beachline open to the public" and to stem the tide of developers who wish to privatize much of the Texas coast. www.surfrider.org/centraltexas
TEXAS SKI RANCH TSR is a bitchin' way to beat the heat. With a cable system to pull you and your wakeboard, wakeskate, kneeboard, or water-skis along the water at breakneck speed, boats seem an unneccessary afterthought. But, for you old-fashioned adrenaline junkies, there's a private (meaning just your ride, just your wake) boat lake, too. 6700 I-35 N., 830/627-2843. www.texasskiranch.com
TREASURE ISLAND PIRATE BAR Ahoy mateys! Climb aboard for the nightly voyage at Treasure Island, with décor to walk the plank for. Booty is bountiful, in terms of rump shakin' on the dance floor and booze, which can be had from the ship-shaped bar. Every night features a DJ spinning tunes (hip-hop to Top 40) from his lookout tower. Watch out for live sea creatures in the tank behind the bar and their curious renderings all over the walls. Arrrrrrr! 413 E. Sixth, 512/476-4466.
TYLER'S Locally owned Tyler's on the Drag is stocked with surf-wear essentials. Find sunglasses, a towel, and a bathing suit for the day-time and casual beach wear for the afterhours from brands like Billabong and Roxy. Check out their enormous back wall of sandals and sneakers. 701 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/327-9888.
VOLENTE BEACH The recently incorporated Village of Volente is within a half-hour drive of Austin proper. Within the tiny lakeside town resides the area's only "beach," per se. It's free to dock your boat, should you choose to travel by "sea." On Saturday nights during the summer, they show movies for the entire family. The big attraction is, however, the Volente's enormous water rides, developed and designed by Cental Texas' own Schlitterbahn, including the Texas Twister and Sidewinder. After the slippery slides "wet" your appetite for fun, spread out a towel and take a nap atop the powdery sand brought in several times each week from Florida. 16107 Wharf Cove (FM 2769), 512/258-5109. www.volentebeach.com