Florida's Wildest Beaches
Adapted fromFlorida Beaches by Parke Puterbaugh and Alan Bisbort
Grayton Beach State Recreation Area preserves a world-class beach and coastal environment that ranks high on the list of those who critique beaches (including our own beach-bum selves). A visit to Grayton Beach makes one appreciate just how vast and extensive the dune fields of Florida really are when left in their natural state. Barrier dunes of pure quartzite sand roll back from the beach for some distance, giving way to salt marsh, slash pine flatlands, and scrub-hickory hammock. It is this varied landscape, incorporating not only the beach but the different environments behind it, that makes Grayton Beach such an exceptional experience.
The Dunes Recover
The formerly extensive dunes are now in a cycle of recovery from hurricanes in 1995 and 1998. Hurricane Opal sheered off about half of the frontal dunes' 30-foot height in places, but sand fencing and replanting programs have accelerated their restoration. The park is also dotted with lily ponds, marshes, and Western Lake, one of the brackish coastal lakes in the area that breaches its boundary with the gulf several times a year. Grayton's mile-long beachfront runs contiguously with those of Seaside and Grayton Beach, the communities that flank it. The park offers 37 campsites with full hookups on Western Lake. Camping at Grayton Beach is particularly pleasurable after the worst of summer's heat and bugs have died down. The clear, aquamarine water remains swimmable through October and sometimes beyond.
Grayton Beach State Recreation Area
357 Main Park Road
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32549
Location: 20 miles east of Destin, between Seaside and Grayton Beach on Scenic CR 30A. There is a small per-vehicle entrance fee. There are nightly camping fees (with and without hookups) throughout the year.
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset.
Facilities: Restrooms, picnic tables, and showers.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication