Ahhhh, the joys of summer… fun in the sun and sand between the toes. North Florida’s Emerald Coast along the Gulf of Mexico is a beautiful stretch of beach on Hwy 98 from Pensacola to Panama City Beach. It’s a 3 hour drive from New Orleans, LA or a 2 hour drive from Tallahassee, FL.

This coastline is known for its gorgeous emerald green waters and sugar fine sand as soft as powdered sugar. It’s a perfect getaway for beachgoers, bird watchers, fishermen and recreation enthusiasts.

These are just a small handful of beaches we visited.

Navarre Beach Pier – We walk the pier for an above water view of the gorgeous emerald green waters. It’s mid morning and there’s lots of fishing activity going on. We duck and sway away from the fishing lines. Yikes, watch out for those hooks! The fish are biting and there’s lots of energy and excitement. Unfortunately, with so many fishing lines dangling off the pier, sea turtles easily become hooked. If a turtle is caught, call 1-850-710-3239 and the Turtleman Foundation will come to the rescue! A UTV (utility terrain vehicle) will whisk by to aid in the release.

Navarre Beach is a great place to fill up our 5 gallon jugs with T’s new RV filter. We also do secondary filtering with a Brita filter to insure we are drinking the cleanest water possible.

Destin – on the north side of Destin Bridge is the popular Crab Island. This Island is actually not an island, but a sandbar accessible only by seacraft. It is unique in that its emerald green waters are shallow, and depending on the tide, water levels can rise from 1 to 4 feet.

It’s Thursday afternoon and there’s a HUGE gathering of boats anchored on Crab Island. Swimsuit clad sun worshippers stand hip deep in water, mingling in a spring break atmosphere. The aroma of BBQ from floating restaurants fills the air. Pontoon boats hawk inflatable dinosaurs, boiled peanuts and ice cream. It’s PAARTY time!

Since Crab Island is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the National Park Service has recently issued regulation to prohibit vending on these waters. Due to COVID, and the loss of business to the region, they have granted an exception allowing these floating vendors to remain open for one more year.

For those who prefer to suntan on land, Destin also has a nice public beach and restaurants off Scenic Hwy 98 E in a more family friendly environment. We take advantage of the nice outside showers before visiting friends. Thanks Danny for this recommendation!

CR-30A – This county road parallels Hwy 98 that has several exclusive beach communities. There’s an assortment of fancy: from mega beachfront mansions and Greek styled contemporary villas, to nice family 3 story homes and one story southern bungalows. Town centers are gathering spots for residents to dine, shop boutiques, listen to live music and people watch. Summer Saturday Farmer’s Market attracts many with organic produce and local tasty treats and crafts.

When we arrive on 30A, sidewalks and streets are flowing with bicycles and golf carts and traffic slows to a sluggish summer crawl. No rush here. Time slows down when on the Emerald Coast.

Eden Gardens State Park is minutes from CR-30A. The beautiful 1897 Wesley family home is situated a serene garden setting with the area’s oldest Live Oak trees. The family made their fortune from the lumber industry.

We visit the mansion, have a picnic lunch and relax. While painting, the fly-bee that was buzzing around me eventually got caught on my painter’s tape. Good riddance!

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