I love this name Ecosploring that I borrowed from Visit South Walton! It really embodies what exploring in Destin and the wider Gulf Coast is all about. There’s a lot of Gulf Coast to cover – approximately 200 miles of beautiful white sand with blue-green waters. These miles offer a variety of eco-friendly touring options. Some are obvious, but let me guide you through those and uncover a few others.


Ecosploring on the Gulf Coast

South Walton Ecosploring

Since we I’m using their term, let’s start with some wonderful options in South Walton. In addition to our stunning Gulf waters that beckon ecosploring. South Walton is home to rare Coastal Dunes lakes. Most noteworthy are the fresh water lakes are nearly adjacent to the Gulf and provide the perfect for your paddle board or kayak. One great spot in particular that is home to three of these lakes is Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Here, you can hike, fish, birdwatch and more among the lakes, old-growth long leaf pines, sand pine scrub and variety of wetlands.

Fortunately, this stretch of coast has preserved many areas for states parks. St. Andrews Sate Park in Panama City is one of the best places to see all manner of coastal creatures. Catch a ride to Shell Island, an approximately 7-mile long undeveloped barrier island running east to west between the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrew’s Bay.  Ferry tours extend in the Fall to October 31! Lookout for sea turtles and dolphins!

Sea Turtle

Sea Turtle

Pensacola Ecosploring

Sound like we love exploring water? Travelling west on the Gulf Coast. I must mention the Fort Pickens State Park Aquatic Preserve. Located on the west end of Pensacola Beach towards Perdido Key, this preserve occupies 34,000 acres. Hard to believe, but much is still undeveloped around the beach! Thank goodness it is, so we can ecosplore.  With the nearby Gulf Islands National Seashore facility, many recreational possibilities exist including fishing, swimming, diving, boating and sight-seeing. We even have an underwater archaeological preserve within the preserve. The USS Massachusetts provides excellent diving and fishing opportunities. So, suit up!

Continuing with the state parks, Big Lagoon State Park in Perdido Key offers many opportunities for nature study. There are a wide variety of birds, especially in fall migrations. Remember to kayak and see by water. There is a kayak/canoe launch. Also have, like a few other Florida State Parks, Geo-Seeking with several geocaches located throughout the park. This is a fun way to discover nature with a little eco-friendly help from technology.


Alabama Ecosploring

All this and we still haven’t started in Alabama. Here, explore some of the more secluded waterways via boat with coastal eco tours. Watch for and learn about our wildlife in their natural habitat. You will most definitely see herons, bald eagles, pelicans, osprey and even dolphins. Kayak dolphin tours are tremendously fun, too. And, for the bird lovers, be sure to make plans to attend the 14th Annual John L. Borom Alabama Coastal BirdFest.

So much to do. While most of these activities are available year-round, October is just the perfect month to visit and spend time ecosploring! The weather is phenomenal and the beaches are less crowded giving our wildlife more opportunities to emerge and be seen.

When you are planning your trip to discover these treasures, be sure to stay at A Garden Cottage, Frangista Beach. Furthermore, any more questions about Ecosploring in Destin and the wider Gulf Coast, just ask.