Photocredit: Laurie Ausley, GraytonStatePark.org
Grayton Beach State Park epitomizes all that is wonderful about 30A. Consistently a gold medal national park winner, Grayton Beach is known for its breathtakingly-beautiful pristine beaches, coastal dune lakes, forests and access to the Gulf of Mexico. Residents and visitors alike describe their enjoyment of the heavily wooded shoreline and variety of birds and wildlife. The unique geography of the narrow peninsula lying between the Gulf and Choctawhatchee Bay offers unlimited access to the ocean and has become a favorite vacation spot for those lucky enough to have discovered it.
Photocredit: Taylor Lyn, GraytonStatePark.org
The beach offers a picturesque setting for swimming, sunbathing and surf fishing. Visitors are regularly treated to dazzling sunrises, sunsets and silver moonlit evenings. The southern portion of the park is protected from development, allowing all visitors to experience the Gulf and the lake in its natural state.
Grayton Beach State Park offers a 4.5 long biking / hiking trail (9 miles round trip.) Bicycling is a favored mode of transportation along 30A. The park is right between Seaside, Grayton Beach and WaterColor; these communities are all with a ½ mile of each other and are easily accessible by bicycle. The towns are picturesque; with many art galleries, specialty shops and bikes. Boardwalks and water features are prevalent; shopping is upscale and arts are on display everywhere, including blown-glass cattail lighting on bridges.
Photocredit: Lori Ceier, GraytonStatePark.org
Coastal dune lakes are only found in a few locations in the world, and Western Lake is one of them. The lake is connected to the sea through an inflow/outflow channel. However, the outflow does not exchange water all of the time; the actions of the sand, wind and tides close off the outflow at times, allowing more freshwater to build up from rainfall and ground seepage. Once the water becomes high enough to force the channel to open up, which permits more tidal action to occur. Western Lake encompasses 214 acres, making it one of the largest dune lakes in the world. The result of this unique waterway and brackish water is one of the highest occurrences of rare wildlife species in the state, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.
Photocredit: Robert MacRae, GraytonBeachPark.org
Grayton Beach State Park maintains a boat launch ramp on Western Lake; canoe rentals are available. Incredibly, both fresh and salt water fish are caught. The most common fish are red fish, speckled and white trout, bass and bream. The water is stained dark due to tannins but is actually quite clean.
The most common watercraft on the lake are canoes and kayaks. Yoloing, a popular type of stand-up paddle board sport, is a common sight here. Sailors and ocean-going boats can access public marinas on Choctawhatchee Bay at Horseshoe Bayou approximately 15 miles from Western Lake. Charter fishing can be arranged with numerous captains along the Emerald coast.
Bald eagles are seen often here, as are owls, egrets and osprey. A variety of shorebirds can be viewed from the self-guided nature trail system, as well as the varied ecological systems. The extensive trail system criss-crosses the area, where visitors may see gopher tortoise, many bird species, alligators, deer quail and turkey, among other wildlife. The Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse is an important part of the ecosystem here. Nearing extinction a few years ago, conservation has helped them make a comeback. Here is a great video about this unique local species.
Grayton Beach is an ideal spot to enjoy Florida beaches and wildlife. Come and relax on the beach and experience the uniqueness of this area. To many already, Grayton Beach is paradise. Visit Grayton Beach and you will have memories to treasure that last a lifetime!