Wildlife on 30A

Rivard

One of the most beautiful sights you'll see along South Walton's Scenic 30A is the simple natural beauty that abounds around every bend and permeates open spaces everywhere. It can be breath-taking. To truly understand why this coastal community has such varied and abundant wildlife, you need to zoom out a few hundred miles. Here the massive infrastructure of military protected forests that surround this bright little stretch of beach from Pensacola to Panama City starts to present itself. There is more biodiversity, a number of species living together, in this forest than there is in the entire continental United States. Let that sink in as we now start to explore the wildlife of 30A.

With 26 miles of beaches, quiet coastal communities, and state parks galore, South Walton is the ideal canvas for nature's perfect pallet of creatures. The best time to catch them in their most harmonious moments is first thing in the morning. From almost anywhere, if you wake before the sun, you'll find nature waiting - this goes double for the Emerald Coast. Rise up and go for a walk, and you are sure to be greeted by a chorus of birds and a bevy of woodland creatures. To be a real naturalist, however, one needs to seek out nature in its purest form, to find spectacular creatures you need to travel to the right location.

Why are they so cute? Deer and rabbits just kind of bring one a calm sense of innocence. Rust-colored foxes are cunning and move purposely through the green brush. On the far west side of 30A, there is a park named after a large sail-like dune that rises high above the soft beach. Here, in Topsail State Park, there are miles of biking and hiking trails, secluded estuaries, ponds, and brilliant gold and green forests. This is the best place to happen upon a doe and her fawn. Sea breezes gently kiss the dune grasses, and if you walk quietly, you will quickly see the abundant beauty of this place.

Reptiles of all shape, size, and stripe can are found along these shores. From large gopher tortoises and small alligators to tiny intricately clad forest lizards, Grayton Beach State Park borders Western Lake and is teaming with cold-blooded critters. Take a stand up paddleboard out in the Gulf, between the first and second sand bar, and you will be amazed at fish racing beneath your oar. If you are lucky, you may even see a sea turtle gliding along with the current. Within this park lies one of the most enchanting paths, through a tunnel of trees, along the dunes by the lake and up a boulevard of tall pine trees, be present and silent, and you will see nature's magic.

Home to a handful of very rare coastal dune lakes - the beaches along 30A, all of the beaches are a waterfowl mecca. Bird lovers and watchers should be warned to pop a couple of aspirin before they get here because they most certainly will be "craning" their necks to see the abundant number of birds here. Look high in the tree canopy for a large bush-like nest at least 30 feet off the ground, you'll see Osprey. This apex predator is often found close to its mate, diving into bodies of water and rarely coming out without a fish. Sand Pipers are another plentiful group. They walk the beach tirelessly, feasting on tiny crustaceans, usually in groups of 3 or 4, and have a kind of nervous energy that feels very human in a way. The most regal of birds is the Blue Heron. Standing at about 4ft high on average, this long-beaked beast isn't easily raddled and often times will stay and hunt for fish even as you casually walk by. When it finally takes flight, it is a sight to behold, silently stretching its massive wings as it flies away effortlessly.

So there you have it, full disclosure it's virtually impossible to escape the natural beauty of 30A in South Walton. This community has seen fit to preserving the untouched wild spaces just as they are. It may not have a balance sheet, but there is a priceless ROI to the outside spaces of 30A. When you are ready to experience it firsthand, Rivard by Ocean Reef Vacation Rentals offers a plethora of beach bungalows from which to start your adventure.

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