The smell of the ocean, a fresh breeze on faces in the late May sunshine, sand between the toes - all the encouragement needed to plot a great escape.
And the temptation to break free of lockdown shackles, to blow off two months of cobwebs, proved too great for many families as they descended on Helen's Bay over the Bank Holiday weekend. Given an inch, there's always a danger of people taking a little bit more.
The beach along the north Down coastline regularly attracts families, dog walkers, cyclists, joggers and, despite government warnings that things are not yet back to normal, numbers were high.
There were a few signs that this wasn't a normal Bank Holiday. A barrier blocked off the car park near the entrance to Crawfordsburn Park, but that didn't put off day-trippers as not a blade of grass was visible along the grass verges of the residential areas around the beauty spot.
A steady stream of cars veered off the main Belfast to Bangor road, child buggies were being unloaded along the narrow streets and the Bank Holiday by the beach was in full swing.
And that made social distancing all the more difficult as families navigated the tight avenues and trickled their way down to the seafront where a scene of Hawaiian shorts, buckets and spades was waiting.
While families did their best to stay in their own groups, there's only so much social distancing you can do when children are involved.
Sitting on a bench, you watch the inevitable. "Look at the wee sausage dog" is the call from one excited youngster, and off he scoots to say hello, to apologies from parents who move quickly to retrieve him.
To most it seems like a welcome breath of fresh air for body and spirit after two long months of staying apart.
And with restrictions eased slightly last week, there seems a much more relaxed approach, particularly in the sunshine by the sea.
Faces are happy and that's despite a crucial element of a day at the seaside being absent.
An elderly couple stroll by. "You're not missing your ice-cream?" the lady asks.
"Not at all," says the man alongside her. He, like so many around him, is just delighted to have a taste of the freedom we've all enjoyed on countless Bank Holidays in May in years before.
Five miles along the coast, Bangor tells a slightly different story. There are a few cars around, but there's no problem parking along the seafront. A few are strolling around but look lost as there's little to do. There's no huge influx of visitors from the train station.
A couple of ice-cream parlours are noticeable by respectful queues at their doors, but the town is empty. Shutters are down and it brings home the huge economic impact of Covid-19, particularly on days like a Bank Holiday in May when thousands would normally have flocked here.
The seagulls outnumber the people, but sadly for the cafes and restaurants they'd rather steal their food than pay for it, and even for them the pickings are slim.