MORE THAN JUST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES.
Beyond the stunning Gulf waters, 30A is a lot of things, including a few unbelievably unique state parks. These pristine and protected parcels of pure natural Florida are ready and waiting for you and your crew to come over and play.
A few things to know before we show you where to go:
DUNES. The sand dunes of Florida are unique and made of trillions of tiny pieces of quartz, sand particles small enough to be lifted by wind, but big enough that they don’t stay airborne for long. Over time, they pile up to form hills and create intriguing patterns that form on the surface of the sand. Although walking on the dunes is prohibited, take advantage of some of the boardwalks in state parks, that meander just a few feet above the beautiful formations. Heavenly.
COASTAL DUNE LAKES. The coastal dunes system along 30A is connected to a series of coastal dune lakes. Unique and quite rare, their mostly freshwater content sits within just a few feet of the Gulf’s salt water. Following heavy rain, the sand berms are suddenly breached, causing a flood of fresh water to pour openly into the Gulf. This event is known as an “outfall,” when salty seawater can also flood back into the dune lake until the levels stabilize. The result is a rare brackish ecosystem that’s home to both fresh and saltwater species.
PEDALING, PADDLING. Renting stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and bicycles is by far the best and easiest way to see the beauty of the parks. Grayton Beach State Park offers rentals, right there, on the spot. Vacayzen will even deliver to wherever you plan to start your 30A adventure.
Oversee by Vacayzen As a guest at one of our 30A vacation rentals, you have access to our incredible beach concierge company. Let Oversee by Vacayzen put together your bike/kayak/SUP rental bundle with bikes in various sizes, including kid bikes and extras like cargo trailers and pull-behinds.
FEES. Thank you for helping support the overall facilities. Providing you with clean public restrooms is just a part of where your money goes. Your small donations even support a wide variety of eco-tourism activities available throughout South Walton County.
THIRSTY? Well, a 30A activity has a way of sneaking up on ya. I don’t give much advice, but this can make your day quite pleasant: Try not to become dehydrated, and then play catch-up with trying to rehydrate. Stay hydrated all day long with a handy daypack filled with plenty of refreshments. Or carry a small hydration backpack with a full water bladder. Super easy and efficient. I put mine, full of water, in the freezer the night before.
UNWIND. After a day or a weekend of state park antics, you need a great place to replenish. Of course, an Oversee home is ideal for just layin’ around. And replenishing. The super-comfy accommodations of one of our luxury beach sanctuaries, especially one with a pool, will be greatly appreciated by your group. Tip: Get more than one inflatable pool mattress!
AN OLD MANSION, INSIDE A STATE PARK, INSIDE A STATE FOREST.
Point Washington State Forest Choctawhatchee Bay, flanked by grassy bayous and pine forests, shares a corner of its magnificence with over 15,000 acres of unspoiled Florida: Point Washington State Forest. A few minutes from the beach, its unspoiled beauty includes a diversity of dolphins, alligators, wild boars, bears, and raccoons, to name a few. The very natural state makes it popular with outdoor lovers and sportsmen, and features almost 20 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and trail runners.
Eden Gardens State Park Within Point Washington State Forest also rests 163 stunning acres of Eden Gardens State Park, home of the Wesley House. The renovated two-story 1897 mansion was once home to lumber baron William Henry Wesley. Today, the house is open to tours led by experienced guides that bring its history to life.
Deer Lake State Park A ¼-mile boardwalk offers spectacular views of one of the most dynamic dune ecosystems found on the Gulf Coast, one of 11 natural communities found in the park. The beach access leads to picture-perfect picnics, and gulf swimming and fishing. Also, a trailhead leads to two smaller trails: The Orange Trail is a mile loop that gives you views of pines, deer moss and other fauna. The Blue Trail is a half-mile trail that takes you to the scenic overlook of the northern part of Deer Lake.
Grayton Beach State Park This place has one of those perfect, white-sand, emerald-water beaches. It’s huge. This place has a nine-mile round-trip trail that leads through sand dunes, scrub oaks, twisted magnolias, and provides many opportunities for selfies. This place has a coastal dune lake. Western Lake offers fishing, paddling, and lots of beautiful backdrops. This place has dreamy, seaside campsites, just feet from beaches that are consistently ranked among the most beautiful and pristine in the country. This place!
A STONES THROW FROM 30A.
Camp Helen State Park The park is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and by Lake Powell, the largest coastal dune lake along the Emerald Coast. Have a blast swimming, beachcombing, hiking, studying, and fishing both its freshwater and saltwater. From 1945 until 1987, Camp Helen was a company resort for the employees of an Alabama textile mill known as Avondale Mills. Some of those buildings have now been restored.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park A birdwatching and hiking paradise, Topsail Hill offers 3 miles of pristine beaches. Its dunes are purported to rise like a ship’s sails over the soft sand beaches. Its freshwater dune lake teems with aquatic wildlife as visitors marvel at old-growth pine forests, sandy scrubland, dunes and wetlands. 13 imperiled species find refuge here, like the Choctawhatchee beach mouse and otherworldly-looking pitcher plants.
A POINT WASHINGTON BONUS. AND ANOTHER.
Old-growth Longleaf pine forest, which provides a demonstration of how the southern forests used to appear, includes the world’s largest population of Curtiss’ sandgrass. Plus, on Point Washington’s southern boundary of the forest lies Eastern Lake, a rare coastal dune lake. The view across the lake (the background is the gulf!) is one of the most scenic spots in the forest. Oversee has four beautiful homes on the lake.