If you ask me every year where I want to go on vacation almost every time I will choose to go to the mountains. It's not that I have anything against anywhere else, but when you're deep in the middle of summer in Oklahoma that usually means the heat has set in so you're seeing 95-100 degree temps on a regular basis. And what better way to beat the heat than to head to the mountains. Not only are they incredibly beautiful, but you get the added bonus of cool weather (for the most part).
This year we did a little something different and chose to spend our summer vacation down along the Gulf Coast in Florida near Destin. At first I thought we might be staying in Destin but we actually ended up in a condo down the road about 8-10 miles in the area of Santa Rosa Beach. I didn't know it at the time, but the 30A road looks to be pretty popular so I'm just now catching up on it. I was pretty happy that we weren't actually staying in Destin because I may have lost my sanity with the traffic along Highway 98 into town. It was tough enough coming in because it was the 4th of July weekend and it appeared half the nation had the same idea we did, so it was slow going getting onto peninsula initially. Once we arrived it was a blast from the get-go.
We spent a lot of time on the beach of course, and the first day the beaches were full of people and the water was full of some kind of sea moss so it stuck to you as you walked in or out. If you got out far enough, you were able to move into clearer waters where the water was warm and so enjoyable. The second day out the water was full of waves. I'm assuming storms further off the coast were pushing water in, but at any rate the turbulence moved all the plant life out and the waters were crystal clear. From further back the Gulf appeared to have a teal color and couldn't have been more visually appealing. The sand was so soft it was pretty much perfect to walk in, and it stuck to your feet pretty well too so thank goodness for the water hoses at the beach entrances.
Later we went on a Dolphin cruise with Flipper's Adventures in Destin. They took us out on a decently sized pontoon boat and provided free beer to the adults and soft drinks for the kids. We were happy because we not only saw dolphins, but we also saw a sea turtle swimming in the open waters which from what I understand is pretty rare. The ride lasted a couple of hours and they made sure we got to see dolphins even though it meant searching a little longer than normal.
Another highlight of the trip was eating Elmo's Grill in Santa Rosa Beach. Although a bit pricey (which all seafood seems to be that way) it was outstanding.
We also went back with Flipper's Adventures for a 3 hour snorkeling trip later in the week. Back on the same boat, they took us to a beach with a nearby reef where we all jumped off and snorkeled for a good hour on the first stop. It was so incredible swimming with the colorful fish, seeing the hermit crabs and getting a view of sea life I'd never experienced. After the first stop, we went to a second stop along a remote beach with abundant sea life and although it was for a shorter time we had a blast. We finished the trip up with another dolphin hunt, and came away with an even better view of the dolphins than we did in the first trip.
Before we left, we took a 6 mile hike around the Top-Sail wildlife refuge. It was hot, around 93 degrees and the humidity was in the upper 80's, but we made it and felt quite accomplished after it was done.
Overall, it's an area I'd definitely recommend visiting at least once especially with a family. I had a great time, and being a mountain guy that's quite an achievement. Here's a few of the shots I captured along the way while we were in the area. All of these photos are available as prints or canvas in the store.
Click an ad to support this site!