Grayton Beach State Park was a stop I was looking forward to with the natural sand dunes and beautiful emerald waters of the Northwest Florida coastline. What I was not expecting to find was a quaint local town, great cabins, and the tranquility that was present as soon as I set foot on the beach.
Grayton Beach State Park is in the Florida Northwest region near the small town of Seaside about midway between Panama City Beach and Destin Florida. It is a perfect place to get away from it all and enjoy Florida's nature.
As we approached this area of town, we had no plans of where to stay. We actually decided to go first into the park and explore and worry about hotel later. Then we saw that the state park had cabins. Being the middle of summer, we figured there was not a chance that we'd be able to stay without prior reservations, but we asked the ranger at the gate when we pulled into the park. And there was one vacancy! We felt so lucky and went to the cabin to unload our stuff. Then went directly back to the station to reserve as many nights as was available. The cabin was amazing. Full kitchen, full bath, 2 bedrooms, nice family room with a fireplace, and a back screened porch. And it was a short walk to the beach and trails!
Plans for next visit is to reserve a full week at the cabins and to rent or bring bikes.
As you can see by the images, the beach is absolutely gorgeous. It has a natural beauty and tranquility that is representative of this whole area.
Birds - Common Loon
Walking on the beach in the evening we came across this Loon sitting on the beach. We were worried that maybe it was injured because as I walked by it, it didn't move. We called the ranger to ask about it and he told us it was not un-common to see these loons sitting along the beach. So I sat down next to it and just enjoyed the tranquil moment of being at one with nature in this peaceful place.
We found abundant sealife on the shores of Grayton Beach. Shelling along the beaches in Florida, I have found plenty of olives, empty shells. This was the first time I reached for the shells and found live snails inhabiting them. I put them back to continue to flourish in this beautiful coastline.
Baby Ghost Crabs
These were all over the beach in the evening.
Blue Button Jellyfish
Some say they feel a sting or get skin irritations after handling these, but they didn't seem to bother me.
The Hobbit Hole Trail
Park at the beach parking lot and head up the trail. This trail takes you onto the sand dunes (yes, one area of dunes you are allowed on), and into what truly looks like a hobbit hole! The sand live oaks form an alcove at the top of the dunes where the opening invites you into a nice shaded area. In the summer heat, this area was a nice place to stop and cool down and enjoy the true nature of Florida.
From the opening area, there is a path that takes you through the oaks and scrubs, and then out to an area that gives you the most beautiful view of both the coast and Western Lake which is a rare coastal dune lake. I was mesmerized by the view and spent some time in that spot enjoying the peace and beauty in front of me.
The end of the trail takes you into the Slash Pines and this part got a little confusing as we seemed to get off path a few times. My tips for this trail is to bring lots of ice cold water to stay hydrated as most of the trail is not shaded and the sand emanates the heat. Plan enough time to stop and enjoy the trail at the hobbit hole and at the top of the dunes.