Blog post courtesy of Craig Duran of The Duran Group
DISCOVER SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
The fine, sugar white sand found on the beaches of Northwest Florida makes for some of the prettiest beaches anywhere in the world. Located on the warms waters of the Gulf of Mexico, there are three distinctly different destinations along this beautiful 100-mile stretch offering a little bit of something for everyone.
The areas around Destin, Scenic Highway 30-A, and Panama City Beach offer a variety of experience, but ALL of them take a back seat to those stunning, beautiful beaches.
DESTIN | SAN DESTIN | FORT WALTON BEACH
“The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” started as just that...a small fishing village but has now become a popular tourist destination and is home to some of the best saltwater fishing in the United States.
There are only about 12,800 permanent residents in the City of Destin but recent reports from the Frlodia Department of Environmental Protection estimates that nearly 3.6 million people visit the area annually, illustrating just how popular Destin has become. The 100 Fathom (600 feet of depth) Curve of the Gulf of Mexico comes closest here than anywhere else in the state making it ideal to get to deep water fast.
But you don’t have to fish to enjoy Destin. There is fantastic golf throughout northwest Florida. Kelly Plantation, designed by Fred Couples and Regatta Bay, designed by Arnold Palmer’s lead architect, Robert C. Walker, are both outstanding tests surrounded by gorgeous, bayfront residential communities. Emerald Bay and the golf courses of San Destin are also great courses where you can live or enjoy a vacation home.
Then there’s the food.
Delectable fresh fish is easy to find. Locals know that the food and views don’t get much better than at HarborDocks, located right on the Destin Harbor. And the chef at Sushimoto is a real artist, rivaling Los Angeles quality sushi...uni is even occasionally on the menu.
The Back Porch Seafood and Oyster House has been a staple since 1974, situated right on the beach while Joe’s Crab Shack is another great option for fresh seafood.
Destin offers even more. There is shopping, deep sea fishing charter boats, water sports, and annual events but it all comes back to the beaches. The combination of that sugar white sand and emerald green water makes this little fishing village a not so hidden gem along the “Emerald Coast.”
Nestled right between Destin and Panama City Beach, there is a little two lane road offering a unique blend of old Florida and modern luxury. Coastal dune lakes are rare and only found in a handful of locations around the world. Australia, New Zealand, and Madagascar are a few...and 30A.
The different lakes and sand dunes blend with the beautiful water and beaches to offer a visually stunning experience. The small-town beach life has been preserved, for the most part, by much lower allowable density and a four-story building height restriction.
Highlighted by the award-winning communities of Watercolor, Seaside (The Truman Show), Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach, it is not unusual to see or hear of celebrities, national political figures or heads of business who have ventured to the area to stick their toes in the sand.
When you aren’t at the beach, you will see as many bikes on bike paths as cars on the road as people meander in and out of their favorite cafe, boutique or wine bar. 30-A is undoubtedly for the discerning, offering the services and amenities you would expect at any luxury destination.
The Havana Beach Bar and Grill at The Pearl in Rosemary Beach is a great place for happy hour or you can take in the sunset at Bud and Alley’s, another favorite of locals and tourists alike.
Cafe Thirty-A has been a can’t miss for over 20 years while Cuvee’ 30A is fast becoming another go-to restaurant for drinks or dinner. There is always a wait at Stinky’s Fish Camp, and Chef Nikhil’s Roux 30a is another excellent choice for great food.
The Red Bar in Grayton Beach is another must visit. It’s eclectic decor, outstanding food live music, and great cocktails make for a memorable stay every time.
The laid back, small town, artsy feel is palatable everywhere along 30A and why so many people come to get lost in this special place. You can enjoy stand up paddle boards on beautiful lakes, fantastic food, casual strolls on the beach or just kick back, relax and do nothing.
But it’s always back to the beach in this part of the world. The sand is indeed sugar white and soft on your feet while the water is as gorgeous and clear as the Caribbean or South Pacific.
PANAMA CITY BEACH
Just east of Highway 30-A is a small beach town that is on the move. Long perceived as an afterthought to Destin and the 30A experience, this little beach town has grown up in the last decade offering tremendous value when compared to its neighbors to the west.
Real estate is a fraction of the cost, and short terms rental revenues have been soaring recently landing Panama City Beach as “The #1 Place to Invest” by Rented.com out of 125 other markets.
The publicly traded Simon Group opened Pier Park in 2008, a 100+ acre lifestyle center directly across the street from the Gulf of Mexico and one of PCB’s two sister piers. Until then, there has been no real central commercial district, but that changed overnight.
Featuring new restaurants, shopping and entertainment next to a public park and amphitheater, Pier Park exploded the market making it a true destination for the first time.
In addition to the new Pier Park, Panama City Beach offers a wide array of activities found in both Destin and 30-A. The Greg Norman designed Shark’s Tooth is a challenging track while the Hombre hosted the second stage of PGA Q-school for years.
Locals and visitors love the new, gulf front Runaway Bay or a long time favorite, Firefly for drinks and dining while looking forward to the brand new Blue Marlin, located right on Grand Lagoon.
You can take kids for a ride on an actual pirate ship or hop on the “Sea Screamer” for a fast ride on the Gulf of Mexico. Dolphin sightseeing and deep sea fishing tours area are available along with all of the favorite water sports like parasailing, wave runners, and banana boats.
Three are surf shops everywhere and plenty of putt-putt golf and go cart tracks, so families have plenty of options when not enjoying beach time. Dining options range from upscale for date night to breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets making it easy to feed the family when on vacation.
NORTHWEST FLORIDA BEACHES
Food, fun, relaxation...there is something for everyone. You can find this in a lot of places in the world, but you will be hard-pressed to find a more stunning combination of sugar white sand and emerald green, warm water anywhere. See for yourself!