I’ll start this Top Ten post with a disclaimer: I am a beach snob.
I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but it’s all my daddy’s fault. I grew up with a travel-loving father who, through the years, has taken me to most corners of the United States, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach (where the above photo was taken), Malibu and the pièces de résistance: Maui and Diamond Head, Oahu.
Can I just say that visiting Hawaii pretty much spoils you for any beach, anywhere, ever?
I also lived in Biloxi, Ms. and Pensacola, Fla. for a combined total of four years and found neither place anything to write home about. So when various people have announced Destin vacations or Destin condo purchases through the years, I’ve been totally nonplussed.
Well, the life of a writer can be interesting, and lately I’ve been doing a little freelance copywriting for a new site about Destin destinations (Destin DESTINations…heh…I love saying that). Check it out: DestinFlorida.org.
Because I am one who is willing to admit when she’s wrong, I have to say it: I think I was wrong about Destin.
And I kinda think I’d like to go there now. Here are ten things I learned that helped change my mind.
1. It’s not just for rednecks. I know a few of my friends are simmering-mad at me now, but hear me out. Whenever I visited the beach during those years living along the Gulf Coast, it was usually in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Now, granted, that was 15 years ago, and perhaps things have improved from the days we knew it as the Redneck Riviera. But we experienced a few too many funny encounters with intoxicated Larry-the-Cable-Guy look-alikes, one of whom we saw crying to the arresting officer that he was, and I quote, “Gonna go call my momma!” to try to get himself bailed out of jail for public drunkenness. So yes, I admit—I painted the entire Gulf Coast with the same camouflage-and-rebel-flag infused paintbrush. And I shouldn’t have.
2. The water really is emerald green. That has been one amusing aspect of writing about Destin: every single website refers to the “emerald-green Gulf waters” or “Florida’s Emerald Coast.” I keep waiting to see some writer get creative and use another word for “emerald”. Call it jade, verdant, Kermit-the-frog’s backside, something, anything but emerald! But even I ended up using that adjective, because…well…it describes it so well. It’s sparkly and green, like a jewel. And then the lovely green fades into aquamarine, then brilliant sapphire blue and it’s beautiful.
3. The sand really is sugar-white. I look at pictures of it and I want to flop down in the middle of the beach and make sand angels. It’s simply gorgeous.
4. Some of the resorts have truly spectacular views, with that gorgeous green water contrasted against the cool blue sky, as far as the eye can see. I mean, really—the photos practically made me drool.
5. There’s an impressive assortment of restaurants to choose from in the Destin area, including many cool local places that I’d love to try. Fresh seafood, anyone?
6. Nearly all of those restaurants offer Key lime pie for dessert. Not much in life is better than a sweet, creamy, tangy slice of lime-infused heaven. I could hit a different restaurant every night, try all the Key lime pies and come back here to tell you which had the best one. It would be a thankless job, no doubt, but I’m certain I could handle it. (Snort!)
7. You can go on dolphin-watching day cruises. Despite my travel-filled life, I have never ever been at sea with dolphins frolicking around my boat. But I’ve always wanted to experience that. Dolphins are just precious creatures—how amazing it would be to see them playing in their natural habitat.
8. There are several state parks/nature preserves along the Destin area, where one can enjoy a non-touristy, unspoiled beach experience. That sounds heavenly to me.
9. I now know of at least one restaurant where I could have a fancy-schmancy special dinner with my husband, directly on that white-sand-emerald-water beach, with linens and crystal and china, and food cooked by a highly-trained chef. That sounds like the kind of date that dreams are made of, doesn’t it? Unless, of course, they set you up 20 feet away from an old fat guy in a Speedo, or a soccer mom wrangling six kids, either of which might kinda kill the romantic vibe. But surely they wouldn’t do that, would they?
10. Destin has been rated the number one beach in America by USA Today readers and selected for the sixth year in a row as the Best Beach in the South by readers of Southern Living.
‘Nuff said, don’t you think?
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