If you’re looking for a beachy atmosphere that feels like Old Florida, the closest you’ll come is Inlet Beach. This quiet neighborhood gets its ethos from the 13 miles of protected sand dunes and coast that fringe the neighborhood from the Gulf itself. Wind-swept dunes, dramatic neighborhood beach access walkovers, and calm, practically untouched beaches make Inlet Beach a holdout of historic Florida. The availability of ample parking makes it a must-stop for visitors to the South Walton Beach area. Showers and restrooms are available at the public beach access area, along with paved public parking–a boon for travel-weary beachgoers!
The homes spanning those 13 miles are typically old-world-Florida style, as well, many of them highly-stilted A-frames in cool coastal colors, brimming with Florida bungalow charm. Off the shore of Inlet Beach, you’ll encounter Cobia Reef, which offers some of the area’s best snorkeling. This partially man-made reef has become home to a huge variety of aquatic life, and it has infused the local marine ecosystem with life.
On the beach itself, if you walk down toward Camp Helen State Park, you’ll encounter the old pier, now in disrepair, that makes a popular photo backdrop among local photographers. Camp Helen State Park is a great place to learn about the social and ecological history of the area; centuries-old mounds and ceremonial middens indicate that the land was occupied as long as 4,000 years ago.
The state borders Lake Powell as well as the Gulf. Lake Powell is a protected dune lake (the largest in Florida!) that occasionally overflows to open into the Gulf itself, creating a stunning, swirling blend of brown lake water and crystal blue-green Gulf hues. Lake Powell itself is home to a stunning array of wildlife, and the best way to explore it is to rent a kayak or SUP and spend the day exploring.
As protected as it seems from time itself, Inlet Beach is also within easy access to a huge variety of local attractions, from a Florida coffee farm to spas, wineries, and four-diamond restaurants. Whether you’re here for the surf and waves, the fine dining and resort scene, or a bit of both, Inlet Beach offers a beautiful respite with easy access to the best that the South Walton Beach area has to offer.
– Stay for the sunset; you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view.
– Keep in mind that private property borders many parts of this neighborhood beach, and keep an eye out for no-trespassing signs. Locals are friendly and accommodating to respectful beachgoers, but it’s fair to remember that on your way to the beach, you’re basically right next door to someone’s back yard.