a slice of paradise
If you could sum up Scenic 30A in one word, it would be “special”. .
Scenic 30A is unlike any other place you’ve ever been. To locals, it is our very own unicorn, but it isn’t just the small town charm and picturesque surroundings that makes it that way.
South Walton's is one of just a few locations in the world, alongside Oregon, Australia, New Zealand, and Madagascar, that are lucky enough to boast the unusual natural wonders of coastal dune lakes. Coastal dune lakes are rare geographical occurrences in which large permanent bodies of water exist within two miles of the coastline. The lakes are freshwater, but because they interchange water with the Gulf of Mexico, it creates a brackish (mix of fresh and salt waters) environment, making for a very delicate and remarkable ecosystem that is home to many endangered species of both flora and fauna. South Walton has 15 coastal dune lakes that exist within the 26 miles of coastline along Scenic 30A, and each lake has a completely different chemistry, varying from totally fresh to significantly saline. If you’re lucky, you will get to witness an “outfall,” when the dark waters of a lake breach into the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico! It is quite the sight to see! We at Adventure 30A are happy to offer visitors the opportunity of eco-touring via paddle board or kayak throughout our protected coastal dune lakes.
Of course we are also known for our sugar-white sand beaches and emerald waters. Our sand is quartz that traveled from the Appalachian Mountains via the Apalachicola River at the end of the last Ice Age, about 20,000 years ago, and deposited on our shorelines. Our bare sandy sea floor is what makes our waters so gorgeous and pristine, but it is not a suitable environment for corals to grow. The South Walton Artificial Reef Association has begun installing artificial reefs along the coastline to provide habitat for marine life and to facilitate snorkeling. These reefs are close enough to the shore that they can be reached by paddle board, kayak, or simply by swimming, and are located in Miramar Beach, Topsail Hill, Grayton Beach, and Inlet Beach. As if it wasn’t cool enough, they installed the structures in the shapes of a dolphin, sea turtle, cobia, and a sea horse!
In addition to the unparalleled natural beauty of Scenic 30A, we also pride ourselves in the pleasure of our diverse architectural beauty. Each beachside community has its own unique vibe and structure. Grayton Beach is a little Key West laid-back hippie-style, while Alys Beach gives off a Mediterranean mood. Rosemary has an Old World European Village ambiance, while Seaside is idyllic, just as it was in The Truman Show.
In the spirit of keeping everything eccentric, 30A is home to myriad artists, chefs, musicians, silversmiths, designers, and all kinds of other creatives and idea-makers. You won’t find any fast food chains or corporate clothing stores on 30A; only mom-and-pop shops and offbeat boutiques. Be sure to take a cruise or bike ride down 30A to enjoy the contrasting atmospheres and visuals and to support our local artisans and entrepreneurs.