Destin and South Walton have received multiple accolades over the years, and many boast that they are “the most beautiful beaches in the world.” Our Ocean Reef Resorts guests already know this since they have created magical memories during family beach vacations at our distinctive rental properties for generations.
Some of the best “homes away from home” at the beach are located along Scenic 30A in South Walton. This gorgeous route is dotted with enchanting picturesque coastal villages that were creatively designed in recent years. Grayton Beach is one such village, but its origins go back to 1890 and was based upon not only the natural beauty of the area but also for great fishing. Grayton Beach State Park wraps around three sides of this historic village center and has just been named as the “Best Beach in the United States” by Stephen Leatherman, also famously known as “Dr. Beach.” Dr. Beach has a doctorate in marine science, is an expert on coastal environments, and is a professor at Florida International University. He has been completing nationwide studies of beaches for thirty years to rank them for excellence using a wide variety of criteria related to their aesthetic appeal. This year Grayton Beach State Park was rated Number One! This park also receives a 4.8 Star for Excellence on Google with almost 2,000 reviews. Visitor comments include descriptions like: “Literally my favorite place on earth”; “Awesome”; “Perfect beach”; “Excellent park”; “White sand beach that goes on for miles”; “Sheer beauty”; “Idyllic”; “Gorgeous with soft white sand with crystal clear water”; and “This park is a hidden gem!”
Grayton Beach State Park encompasses almost 2,000 acres, including the beautiful beach, sugary dunes, pristine wetlands, an exotic 100-acre coastal dune lake, and preserved forests. If you have ever traveled down Scenic 30A, you have most assuredly caught a panoramic view of this heavenly place since the county highway crosses Western Lake on a narrow isthmus connecting Grayton Beach to WaterColor. On one side of the lake are the rolling sugary dunes next to the beach, and on the other is the forested shoreline. Coastal Dune Lakes are found hardly anywhere else on the planet and harbor an abundant array of wildlife, indigenous plants, and fish. They have creek-like tributaries next to dunes that intermittently connect with salted water. These “creeks” actually flow in two opposite directions depending upon which way the tide is going. This creates an exotic mixture of artisan spring and salted waters. Seagulls, Great Blue Herons, Snowy White Egrets, Osprey Hawks, and American Bald Eagles can be seen soaring above or fishing along the shore. Both freshwater fish like Large Mouth Bass, Bream, Speckled Trout, and Redfish can be caught on the lake along with Gulf fish on the surfside. Many folks bring a kayak, paddleboard, canoe, or a small engine trolling motorboat to fish on the lake, and a launch is available on site. Check-in advance to get a fishing license. The Ranger’s Station also rents most of these watercraft, and many just paddle around the lake to explore the natural beauty.
The forest includes two nature trails – one that goes through a Live Oak canopy that resembles a tunnel and then dramatically opens out onto the beach. The other meanders each way 4.5 miles through the forest for hiking or trail biking. Besides the sensational scenery, adventurers may spot White-Tailed Deer, Gray Foxes, Rabbits, Squirrels, and an occasional Black Bear.
The star of the show, of course, is the number one best U.S. beach! The sands are composed of 99.9% pure white quartz, which was shaved off of Appalachian Mountain tops eons ago during the last Ice Age. The quartz crystal was pulverized into a white powdery form by 11,000 years of wave action. Sunlight reflects tiny natural microscopic plankton floating in the gulf above the bright bottom, which creates a dazzling jewel-toned glow that is visually stunning. The brilliant beach is so bright that sunglasses are more than just a fashion desire, they are a true necessity. The sand also reflects heat off the beach, making it cool to the touch, and unlike most other places, it does not burn your feet. Many locals often leave their flip flops near the beach access since it is often easier to traverse the cool sand barefoot. The sugar white sand is so pure that it squeaks when you rub the bottom of your foot across its surface! There is a large parking lot at the beach access point with bathroom facilities, showers, and a handicapped-accessible ramp to the shoreline. Grayton Beach State Park is open 365 days per year from 8 AM till sunset when the gates close. Entry fees are $5 per vehicle with up to eight occupants. Single occupant’s vehicles are charged $4, and pedestrians and bicyclists are charged $2.
Read more: The Highest Sand Quality in the World
Ocean Reef Resorts has scores of outstanding private vacation rental homes, and almost all of them are within walking distance from Grayton Beach State Park. Quite a few are beachfront properties with their own shore access adjacent to the state park. One of the most popular destinations is located in the charming historic old Grayton Beach village center, which borders the sugary shore and has a small fishing dock on the coastal dune lake. Two popular restaurants with beach bars and a unique gallery of decorative arts are also a part of the village scene. We have other gracious homes available just two minutes away towards the west at Gulf Trace at Grayton Beach. The state park wraps around this lovely residential enclave that overlooks a wide expanse of shimmering dunes towards the west and features spectacular sunsets year-round. The neighborhood’s beach borders the southern side, and another precious coastal dune lake is on the east side.
Enjoy planning a magical experience at the Best U.S. Beach by taking a look at our 30A vacation rentals that come in all shapes and sizes with the ability to custom suit your needs. Our state of the art user-friendly website includes detailed descriptions of each one along with multiple images, satellite location views, seasonal rental rates, and calendar dates available to make reservations. Get ready for a glimpse of Heaven!