What Makes 30a So Idyllic?
Scenic Highway 30a is a 28.5 mile road that is hidden along Florida’s breath-taking Emerald Coast. Located in South Walton (SoWal) County, this highway connects over 11 quaint beach communities such as Rosemary Beach, WaterColor, Grayton Beach and Seaside.
Grayton Beach is one of the oldest local beach communities along 30a, dating back to the 1920s. The first marked growth of tourism to 30a started around 1979 when an architect named Robert Davis inherited 80-acres of beach-front property from his grandfather. His grandfather, J.S. Smolian, originally purchased this land with the dreams of bringing his family to the Gulf Coast. Davis and his wife were architectural planners who had a passion for bringing “New Urbanism” into the area, and came to develop the walking community of Seaside, Florida. Once Seaside set the bar, other towns slowly emerged along the rest of 30a. The western end, to this day, tends to be a bit less developed and more of a “local,” quiet side of 30a. On the other hand, the eastern end has more of a booming “resort” feel.
Rest-assured that 30a will always hold the intimate charm of sleepy beach communities, and will be protected from the over-development of nearby beaches such as Panama City Beach and Destin, because of the State of Florida’s ownership of close to 40% of the South Walton County land. Our four state parks, along with the Point Washington State Forest, assures that visitors and locals will always be able to enjoy the pristine nature and native wildlife.
We are lucky to have so many of nature’s wonders down here along the Gulf Coast. Northwest Florida has some of the purest, whitest sand anywhere in the state! The sand is made up of quartz crystals that were produced by the weathering of the Appalachian mountains from tens of thousands of years ago, and was washed down the Apalachicola River to our stretch of the Gulf of Mexico. Beyond the sand, we can talk about the water! The water along this special coast of the Florida panhandle is some of the most beautiful in the world. The color is partly due to the purity, and therefore, clarity, of the water that allows such incredible visibility and light penetration. The other factors include the shallowness of the water along the shoreline and the very high reflective-properties when the sun hits the white sand. Instead of the crystal-clear blue color of the deeper waters, the shoreline waters are viewed as an emerald-green color. In South Walton, we are also home to 15 coastal dune lakes. These lakes are geographical phenomenons are incredibly rare and are also only found globally in Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand and Oregon. On occasion, if the water levels of these lakes are too high due to rain, the lake “opens” and pours down a temporary waterway into the the Gulf. This opens the possibility of saltwater animals and plants to enter the lakes as well. Once the exchange between the Gulf and the dune lake reaches a natural equilibrium, the connection naturally closes again.
Come visit! Experience what it is like to drive or bike down this beautiful strip of land. The Timpoochee Trail is the 18-mile trail that parallels the entire length of Scenic Hwy 30a, stretching from Santa Rosa Beach to Inlet Beach. The natural beauty and the ever-growing attractions will keep families visiting this area for many years to come. Once you turn off Hwy 98, roll down your windows and breathe deeply – You’re in paradise!