Florida’s Forgotten Coast Do you know the way to Beaches of South Walton?
When heading to Florida, thoughts of frolicking co-eds in Miami and Fort Lauderdale come to mind. Recently, we discovered an entirely new side to our 27th state. Twenty-five miles south of I-10, along Florida’s panhandle, former farming country now thrives as a vacation getaway.
Get to know Beaches of South Walton and discover an assortment of 14 eclectic beach communities. Your family will love the breathtaking sugar-white sands, brilliant emerald-green waters and smooth, protective sand dunes. This is the Gulf of Mexico Texans don’t typically experience.
Arrive in style
We flew into Fort Walton Beach and were greeted by Bob Derry from Destin Coach. Derry offers a wealth of knowledge about the area and takes extra steps to make sure guests are familiar with their surroundings. As you ride in his luxurious town car, take in the sea air and crystal-clear water.
If you recall the tranquil setting of the movie “The Truman Show,” you’ll recognize the colorful palette of cozy cottages used to create the setting. Yes, this Utopian-style community actually exists in Florida in the town of Seaside. Today, multiple communities reminiscent of early 18th and 19th century beach towns are available for pleasure.
Lodge in luxury
Surrounding Seaside is the WaterColor Resort, created in pastels so subtle, the entire resort practically blends into the beach. The brand new community of WaterSound, the 14th beach community, offers an exclusive escape from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. Beach-side bonfires are common as the sun sets and the sky turns from a symphony of pinks to molten gold.
There are 30 unique neighborhoods filled with condos, villas, town homes and hotel rooms, including the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort that has 1,800 options for travelers. Host to the PGA’s Boeing Championship, this resort certainly has something for everyone. Hop on a bicycle and explore scenic spots throughout the 2,400-acre resort (four hours of biking are included daily), or indulge in a Salt Glo body treatment at the Sandestin Salon &Day Spa.
There are plenty of opportunities to get up-close and personal with nature and wildlife by canoeing or kayaking. You can also explore the grassy coastal wetlands on a guided daybreak Waverunner tour. If your kids are in tow, drop them off at the KidZone for games or arts and crafts. And don’t miss Taylor, the talking parrot, who makes his home on the dock.
Consider the ecosystem
Beaches of South Walton is the only destination in the country to have all 26 miles of coastline certified as Blue Wave Beaches, an environmental seal of approval from the Clean Beaches Council. Criteria, such as water quality, safety services, habitat conservation, erosion management, public information and education, are all taken into account for this prestigious designation.
There are 25,000 acres of untouched property which are home to native wildlife. Stressing the importance of man’s relationship to nature and the landscape we inhabit is of utmost importance. The scenic setting and homes painted with colors of the sea, make the crystal beach even more enjoyable.
Destin Coach, (850) 240-7410
Beaches of South Walton, www.beachesofsouthwalton.com