What is Sowal (So-Wall)? The Florida panhandle beach communities of South Walton County on the Emerald Coast are between Destin and Panama City Beach – from east to west: Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, Alys Beach, WaterSound Beach, Camp Creek, Seagrove Beach, Seaside, WaterColor, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Dune Allen, Sandestin, Miramar Beach, Seascape. Directly east is Carillon Beach and Panama City Beach, and directly west is Destin. Point Washington, south of the bay north of Hwy 98, and Freeport north of the bay round out SoWal.
Where is SoWal? Maps & Directions to Beaches Of South Walton – http://www.SoWal.com/map
Why is the sand so white and smooth? The Beaches Of South Walton are made of clear quartz sand eroded and washed down rivers from the Appalachian Mountains. Quartz, a hard, durable mineral, survives transport by fast-moving streams, while softer minerals break down and dissolve, or remain suspended in the water. Sedimentary particles available for deposition along the Gulf Coast are pure white quartz.
A sand dune today was once, thousands of years ago, a mountain top near the Georgia-South Carolina border. Swept into the Gulf of Mexico, powerful currents pushed the quartz sand westward. The stunning white beaches extend from Cape San Blas in the east, to the Gulf Islands National Seashore of Mississippi to the west.
Are dogs allowed on the beach? Walton County does not allow pets on the beach, except for residents with a permit. Dogs must be leashed and only allowed during certain hours. More info at http://clerkofcourts.co.walton.fl.us.
Are tents and other items allowed on the beach? The Walton County Tourist Development Council has a “Leave No Trace” campaign in an effort to prevent items from being left on South Walton Beaches overnight. The TDC’s goal is to create a cleaner beach that would be free of items that interfere with beach maintenance, emergency vehicles and sea turtle nesting. Under County Ordinance 2003-07, items such as tents, umbrellas, chairs or toys that are left on the beach for more than 24 hours, will be discarded.
Are fires allowed on the beach? Yes, you must get a permit and pay a fee, and of course clean it all up! Call SoWal Fire District at 850-267-1298 to obtain a permit and learn about guidelines for having a bonfire on the beach – http://www.swfd.org.
Can I drive on the beach? Before Scenic 30A was completed, many folks hopped in their jeep and drove to the next town down the beach. In later years, some beach driving areas were retained partly because of tradition, but mostly because there is nowhere else in Walton County other than the beach where you can launch a boat with direct access to fishing in the gulf. These days, driving is allowed only on a small stretch on Grayton Beach and Inlet Beach only if you have a valid beach-driving permit. For permit information go to http://SoWal.com/beach-rules.
Are fireworks allowed? Florida allows limited fireworks for sale or use. Prohibited: Firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, daygo bombs, and any fireworks containing explosive or flammable compounds.
How do you catch fish and what kind? South Walton has great fishing in the gulf, bay, lakes, and river. Check out the SoWal Fishing Guide – http://SoWal.com/sowal-fishing-guide
Do I need a fishing license? Unless you are on a commercial boat covered by a charter license, you most likely need a license. You can get one by phone or on the net – http://myfwc.com/license.
What about jellyfish? We have a few different types of jellyfish in South Walton. Although they are not a big threat, a sting can be painful. Purple flags on the beaches often signify the presence of jellyfish. What about sharks? There are plenty of sharks on our coast but most are harmless and there are few close encounters.
Where can I rent a bike, kayak, or beach chairs and umbrellas, etc.? There are quite a few rental companies on Scenic 30A. Check out our Business Directory at http://SoWal.com/business
Are golf carts allowed? Golf carts are not allowed on the bike path or roads unless properly equipped in South Walton. Some private developments, neighborhoods, and resorts allow them. Street legal carts are allowed in low-speed areas.
What are lake outflows and why is the water brown? The coastal dune lakes of South walton periodically open and close to the gulf allowing an exchange of fresh and salt water. This is a fascinating ecosystem where fresh and saltwater species coexist. the lakes provide an excellent protected environment for species to breed and mature. The water from the lakes is tea-colored because of natural tannins from leaves and other vegetation. For more info on coastal dune lakes go to http://SoWal.com/coastal-dune-lakes-of-south-walton-county
Where are hospital and medical clinics? Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast is at the intersection of Mack Bayou Road and Highway 98 just east of San Destin. There are several medical clinics, check out the Business Directory. http://SoWal.com/business
What is the quickest/best route from…? Maps & Driving directions – http://SoWal.com/map
Why so few high-rise buildings? Structures over four stories (50 feet) are prohibited in South Walton east of Sandestin. The few tall buildings you see were built before the ban.
Can I have a wedding or party on the beach? Groups of 50 or more on the beach require a permit.
What state parks are in the area? Florida State Parks in SoWal – http://www.SoWal.com/parks
How long is the bike trail on Scenic 30A? The Scenic 30A Bike Trail (officially, The Timpoochee Trail) stretches about 17 miles from one end of Scenic 30A to the other from Inlet Beach in the east to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in the west. In addition there are paved paths on some of the north-south roads and great off-road biking trails through the state parks and forests.
Can you recommend a photographer, builder, accountant, etc.? Please check our MarketPlace Directory – http://SoWal.com/business, and the SoWal Business Forum for recommendations – http://www.SoWal.com/bb.