For the second summer in a row, I was fortunate enough to spend nearly a month on Okaloosa Island. The Island is in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. It is only a small strip of land stretching along the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the far end of it is actually part of Eglin Air Force Base. But, the end closest to the highway is lined with condominiums and homes. A lot of the condos are older units built before 1980.
Both times we have stayed on the Island in the Summer, and again last Thanksgiving, we stayed in one of these condo units.
To say that Okaloosa is beautiful is an understatement. It is one of the most lovely, peaceful places I have ever been. Unlike Panama City Beach, which is noisy and crowded with tourists on noisy rental scooters, Okaloosa is quaint and quiet. If you want more excitement, cross the Bridge to Destin, Florida and you have got all the tourist areas and shopping you could ever dream of. But on little Okaloosa you have what I love most about the beach. The sand is the color and texture of sugar. The water has so many shades of green and aqua that you can not describe it simply. It isn't called the Emerald Coast for nothing. Then, there are the dolphins who swim up and down the shore every morning, splashing, playing and just enjoying themselves as they hunt for breakfast.
The water is crystal clear and warm. The skies are the bluest of blue and you are frequently greeted by the most incredible sunrises with clouds in shades of white, pink, blue and lavender. Tiny fish swim around your feet if you stand still in the water. At night small children with bright flashlights hunt "ghost crabs" and squeal with delight when they catch a glimpse of one.
On the bay side, children catch dozens of hermit crabs to play with in the sand. You can even buy nets and catch blue crabs to steam for your dinner. And speaking of dinner, The Old Bay Steamer on Santa Rosa Boulevard on Okaloosa Island has some of the best steamed seafood I have ever eaten! It seems like everything you could possible want is available within minutes of this tiny paradise. I can't continue on without mentioning one of our favorite places to eat. The Big City American Bistro has a Sunday Brunch for only $15.95 that is so expansive and delicious that we never miss it! They have $5.95 lunches during the week and their food is always superb! Their wait staff, including our favorite waitress Casey, are attentive, kind and professional.
Driving to the Gulf Coast is easy, but they also have a wonderful Northwest Florida Airport available now too.
If you are looking for a wonderful place to relax in the Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring, I can tell you honestly that you will never find a better location. Prices during the high season average about $225 a night Gulf Front, but in the Fall (and it is incredible there in the Fall) prices go down to about $110 a night for a two bedroom condo on the Gulf Front! Try it. I can promise you you won't be disappointed!