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Eco-Tourism in Destin: Exploring the Natural Beauty

March 8, 2024

Foot-shaped sign on sandy beach that says to only leave footprints

Destin and Miramar Beach, Florida, are renowned for their pristine beaches and turquoise waters, but they’re also a haven for eco-tourism enthusiasts seeking to connect with nature while treading lightly on the environment. In this blog post, we invite you to discover the eco-friendly side of the Florida Panhandle and explore the area’s natural beauty through sustainable activities, wildlife encounters, and a commitment to preserving the precious ecosystems that make this coastal paradise so unique.

Hiking Adventures
You might be surprised to find out that our beach town boasts a variety of easy-to-navigate scenic hiking trails that lead you through lush landscapes and showcase the area’s diverse flora and fauna. Try the Timpoochee Trail, which meanders along the shoreline, or explore the Henderson Beach State Park’s nature trails where you can discover the remnants of an old military bunker. For a full list of FL State Parks, click here.

If you’re up for a day trip, be mesmerized by the Marianna, FL Caverns tour where it’s a comfortable 65 degrees year-round.

Wildlife Tours
Spend some time on the water and book a dolphin cruise while you’re in town! We have gathered a list of our dolphin cruise recommendations in our boat cruises blog, and we’re positive they won’t disappoint. Boat tours allow your family to explore the area from the waterways, are great for all ages, and typically provide boats-eye-view of flipper and his friends.

While sea life normally is the main attraction in the Florida Panhandle, we can’t help but share a couple day trips where you can see some land creatures! First stop is up in Chipley, Florida, at the Seacrest Wolf Preserve. This one-of-a-kind experience is pretty cool, but please be sure to read up on their visitor rules and the age minimum before scheduling your adventure. Reservations are required, and you will get to pet (cannot take home) the wolves.

Next up is the Gulf Breeze Zoo in none other than Gulf Breeze. This day-trip excursion is amazing for both children and adults, and we’d encourage you to check into their animal encounters where you can pet a giraffe, snuggle with a sloth, and move slower than a Galapagos tortoise.

Watersport Expeditions
Exploring the emerald waters of Destin by kayak (local’s tip: rent a clear kayak!) or paddleboard is not only a peaceful experience but also an eco-friendly one. Paddle through serene coastal dune lakes or venture into the Choctawhatchee Bay, where you can observe marine life and birds in their natural habitat. To get up close and personal, you may want to consider a snorkeling tour or even go dive one of the man-built reefs in the Gulf (and check out the underwater art museum!)

Destin takes conservation seriously, with several protected areas and nature reserves that showcase the region’s biodiversity. In South Walton, dune lakes scatter our landscapes along with longleaf pine forestlands. Explore Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, home to rare coastal dune lakes and a rich array of wildlife. These areas provide opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and observing the unique ecosystems that thrive in the Florida Panhandle.

Hammock setup at the entrance of sandy beach dunes

As visitors, we have a responsibility to protect the natural beauty that makes our slice of paradise so enchanting. By choosing eco-friendly activities and respecting the delicate ecosystems, we can ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy the same wonders.

During the months of May through October, endangered sea turtles, including Green Sea Turtles and Loggerheads, build nests in the sand and need the help and consideration of human beachgoers to thrive and survive.

Specialized teams along the Emerald Coast work to protect these turtles, but there are also steps beachgoers can take to assist. An easy-to-remember term we often use is CLEAN, DARK, FLAT. How you can help:

  • prevent lights from illuminating the beach at night, using only red-filtered flashlights
  • do not disturb or handle sea turtles, their eggs, or their nests
  • fill in any holes dug on the beach
  • keep the beach clean by disposing of trash properly and removing personal items each night

"We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

As you plan your eco-tourism adventure in Destin, remember that the memories you create while exploring the area’s natural beauty are a testament to the importance of responsible travel. By immersing yourself in the wonders of this coastal paradise, you become a steward of its preservation. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your binoculars, and embark on an eco-friendly journey that celebrates the natural beauty of Destin, Florida; your adventure awaits, and the natural wonders of this exquisite destination are eager to be discovered.

With love from Breathe Easy Rentals

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