Our next trip was going to be more of a mellow, relaxing trip. I had a couple of books to read and truly wanted to do nothing! It was summer time after all, the idea of laying on the white sandy beach having the tranquil sounds of the waves and the occasional seagull fly overhead was where I wanted to be for this vacation.
Destin is located in the northwest area of Florida known as the Panhandle. It is known to have one of the most beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Destin has several state parks along the coastline that protects a wide variety of wildlife and native plants. After a little research, we packed our bags, jumped in the car and began our drive to Destin.
Being that I live on the coast of Texas, I am familiar with beaches and the inner coastal beauty of the water, sun and sand. Texas beaches, for the most part, are beige sands with a tint of gray tones and tend to stick to your skin, not what I was dreaming of on this trip. The water is always active with waves regularly rolling into shore and the water is not clear enough to see the fish. Occasionally you may come across a sand dollars which I thought of as good luck. For this trip, I wanted a more sugary white sand beach with clear blue water.
I had no idea how beautiful the fluffy white coastline of Destin was until now. The sand was so white that if the blue water weren’t in the background, you would think it was snow. The deep green seagrass along the dunes intensifies the bright whiteness of the beach. I couldn’t wait to get to our hotel and unload the luggage so that I could play!
We made reservations at the Henderson Salamander Beach Resort which is located next to the Henderson State Park. This luxurious seaside resort is a gorgeous property with coastal architecture on 200-acres of pristine nature preserve that comes with a private beach, four restaurants, two pools, fitness center, and a children’s activity zone.
Once we checked in and changed into our swimsuits, we headed down to the unspoiled sugar-white beach. I felt like I was walking in white powdered sugar as the sand squeaked between my toes. The water was sparkling and so crystal clear you could easily see schools of fish swimming by. After splashing around in the water, we strolled the coast in search for those unique items from the sea that washed ashore. I collected coral, sea weed, various shells and sea glass.
The following day, as the sun rose early in the morning, we got up and took a walk along with beach with a hot cup of coffee in hand searching the beach for distinct shells. After our walk, we spread out our blanket, lathered up with sunscreen and got into comfortable positions to absorb the sun, enjoy the view of the water and relax to the sounds of the rolling waves. Mother earth has truly blessed us! Taking in the sounds of the waves, admiring nature and inhaling the fresh air is the energy I needed to recharge on this trip. Now it was time to dive into my book and let my mind escape from the hustle and bustle…
On our first evening in Destin, we retreated to a nice seating area around a “camp fire” to enjoy the breeze from the coast with a glass of wine in hand and light jazz music playing in the background as we reflected on our first day at the beach… It was a tremendously peaceful day!
On our third day in Destin, we discovered the most delicious pancakes ever at The Pancakery. Every table was taken. We ordered the French Toast and the Eggs Florentine, both of which were intensely delicious.
After breakfast, we headed to the center of town to discover HarborWalk Village.
At HarborWalk Village you can find just about anything and everything from waterfront shopping, paddle board and kayak rentals, pontoon and jet ski rentals, parasailing, glass bottom boat tours, fishing guides, dolphin cruises, live music and entertainment, and a great variety of restaurants. We browsed few stores, people watched, and booked our snorkeling trip with SeaQuest Snorkeling.
Families can easily find plenty to do in this area to keep everyone happy and entertained while on vacation. After picking up a few knick-knacks, we headed back to the resort to chillax at our private beach.
With my wide brim sun hat, sunglasses, blanket and kindle in a beach bag, we scurried down to the waterfront. This time we decided to use the Resort’s lounge chairs and umbrella for a small rental fee. I thought that was a nice touch by the resort and very convenient for those who didn’t bring their own.
For the rest of the afternoon, we laid on the beach and occasionally took a dip in the water to cool off. It was nice not having an agenda!
For tonight’s dinner, we made reservations at the Tuscany Bistro and met the owner Guglielmo Ianni. Tuscany Bistro is known for their Northern Italian cuisine and fresh fish cooked with an Italian flare. We started out with the House Salad which was plenty for the two of us. For our entrees we ordered the Lobster Ravioli and the Baked “Whole Snapper”… OMG… The Ravioli was very flavorful and had plenty of lobster meat. The Baked Snapper was mouth-watering, fresh and perfectly cooked. Omar and Mr. Ianni hit it off with stories about cooking and traveling the world. It looks like we made a new friend in Destin!
One of Destin’s most popular breakfast destinations is called the Donut Hole Bakery. If you don’t get there early, you will be waiting in line for quite a long time. As you enter this small restaurant, your eyes are glazed with all the fresh baked donuts and other goodies in the counter display. After waiting a short time, we were seated and served with a champion breakfast which consisted of the Gulf Coast Omelette and Eggs, Hash Browns with Biscuits and Gravy… Yummy! We also ordered a dozen of donuts to go which were received with the utmost excitement by our Valet and Concierge staff at the resort.
Today was the day for our snorkeling tour with SeaQuest Snorkeling.
We both had snorkeled before, and so we were very excited to see what creatures were in the waters of Destin. As most snorkeling tour groups, you join other snorkelers on a pontoon boat with a guide. Typically, the boat captain will provide you with some information about the area and the water as well as offering specialty drinks. As we voyaged out to our snorkeling spot, we passed Crab Island Water Park, a big inflatable obstacle course along with floating bars and food vendors. The water is waist deep, and people with boats can also dock here and socialize while in the water. Today the weather was a bit cloudy with sprinkling rain, so it didn’t make for a good day to snorkel.
As luck would have it, we happened to be in Destin during the Gulfarium Sea Turtle C.A.R.E. Program which releases rescued Leatherback Sea Turtles back into the ocean. The C.A.R.E. Program promotes rehabilitation and release of stranded or injured sea turtles. I have a big heart for sea turtles as I once participated in a rescue and release expedition for Diamondback Terrapin Turtles which are similar to sea turtles except they can live on either land or in the sea. An announcement had been made in the local newspaper about the schedule of the release of the Leatherback Sea Turtles, so we gathered along with many other visitors to watch as the aquarists released these gorgeous creatures back into the ocean. It was a joyful moment to see these happy turtles go home into the ocean.
Tonight we wanted to have dinner at the harbor where we could sit outside and admire the luxurious boats. When we visited the HarborWalk Village, we discovered the Boshamps Boat House. We learned later on from the Concierge staff at the Resort that Boshamps is favorite among the locals. Besides having great food it also had beautiful outdoor seating area overlooking the pier. As the sun was starting to set, the sky was tinted with orange and blue, and the water was calm. Our delicious meal consisted of the Original Snapper and the Oysters Bienville.
Upon returning to Henderson Salamander Resort, we ended our vacation with a couple of specialty drinks from the bar. We will miss the long stretch of fine sugar-sandy beaches, the salty sea breeze, the swim in the calm waters and all the excellent activities. I hope all my shells and collectibles I gathered from the beach make it home so that I can put them in a glass jar with the sand to remind me of this dreamy, beautiful place, Destin, Florida!