Some guests may have a pair of alligator shoes or boots. Others may have tried eating some chewy crisp alligator tail bites. However, you certainly don't expect to see a living alligator unless you come to Florida. They used to be on the brink of extinction, but conservation efforts enabled these reptilian creatures to make a huge comeback. Today there are almost 1, 500,000 of them all over Florida. Most of them are in the southern part of the state in places like the Everglades.
Here along the Emerald Coast, they are scarcely found in the vast wild nature preserves along Scenic 30A, but almost never in Destin or Miramar Beach. These "protected" towns are on the western edge of a peninsula that resembles an offshore island with the vast three to five-mile expanse of Choctawhatchee Bay to the north and open gulf to the south. That makes this place hard to get to for a gator. That's not to say you will not see them here since they have been spotted at the Regatta Bay Country Club on golf greens and at the Sandestin Resort. However, when seen here, they are quickly removed and relocated to a remote area. If you ever see one in the wild, it is strongly suggested that you stay 60-feet away from them. Be aware that they like to be in the open sunning near lagoons or lakes during the winter months and crawl around mating in May.
If you are visiting Destin or Miramar Beach are in the mood for a safe Alligator Adventure, we do have the place for you. It's called Gator Beach and don't worry, it's not the beautiful beach you like to frequent! Gator Beach is at the popular Fudpucker's Restaurant on Emerald Coast Parkway just east of Destin Commons. They bill themselves as the "World's Greatest Alligator Park" with over 100 of gators available to see and experience. Kids and Grandkids love having the opportunity to do so, and daily visits are free. A large raised deck in the back of the restaurant overlooks the gator pond where they all swim around below. Specially formulated food is available on site at the Gator Bait Shack so you may buy some there (our guests get it free), lower it down from a cane pole and watch them gobble it up. You may also have a chance to see the rare Pearl who is solid white and one of only 50 albino alligators known to be in existence. A new feature at Fudpucker's is the introduction of baby alligators that are about twelve inches long and able to carefully handled for fun photo ops. Gator Beach is open daily spring thru summer at 11:00 am, and you may watch them splash around, feed them, or have a photo taken with a baby gator at any time. During the fall and winter seasons, it is only open for special events.
Special VIP tickets are available for a private experience to help a professionally trained Gator Handler open up their "beach" in the morning. It starts at 9 am and usually lasts as long as two hours. Participants will actually be a member of the "Gator Team" and receive a name tag to wear as you safely learn to open the park for the day. You will be alongside a professional handler up close and in person feeding adult, young and baby alligators. You will get to watch Pearl being fed. A photo will be taken of you holding a baby gator so you may impress your friends with your bravery. You will also learn amazing facts about alligators for a real understanding of this part of nature. As a special "thank you" team members get a Gator Team Certificate, the Alligator Experience VIP badge and the photo of you with a baby reptilian as a special souvenir. Participants also receive a meal voucher for $5 toward any meal in the restaurant.
Fudpucker's features some decadent tasty gator samplings including: "Gator Tail ala Fud" as an appetizer with sweet chili pepper sauce; Seafood & Alligator Gumbo with Fish, Shrimp, Alligator and Gator Sausage, a rich roux-based sauce, Okra and Sassafras File and "Broiled SeaFud Combo" with Shrimp Scampi, Fish, Crab Balls, Alligator and of course Gator Gumbo!
Besides offering massive portions of down-home great cooking, Fudpucker's provides fun family time with The Fudnominals which is a local group of college kids that entertain with line dancing, games, limbo contests and incredible entertainment for children as well as adults. There is also a kid's playground and a Souvenir Shop on site.
This private VIP Team Gator Experience is limited to adults and children over seven years of age. Tickets are $70 for children and $85 for adults. Full refunds are granted if the event has to be canceled by management due to inclement weather. Refunds are granted less a $5 service fee if cancellation is received more than 48 hours away from the time of the event. More information is available at fudpucker.com or by calling 850-654-4200.
Meanwhile, take a look at here on user-friendly Ocean Reef Resorts website to pick your favorite new "BEACH home away from home." Multiple images, full verbal descriptions, aerial location views, seasonal rental rates, and calendar availability are shown for each of our Destin vacation rentals. Enjoy planning your trip and begin the creation of fun magical memories with your loved ones. See you later alligator!