One of my truest and greatest joys is time spent on the Gulf of Mexico in the Panhandle of Florida.
Unofficially called the Emerald Coast, the gorgeous, vibrant green waters and the sugar-white beaches stretch about a hundred miles through five counties. Ever since my husband and I discovered this area nearly ten years ago, we have hastened to return again and again. There is only one other place that pulls at my heart this way.
Unlike Tampa’s and Orlando’s crowded theme parks or the frazzle that I imagine to be the city of Miami, the Emerald Coast suits us to a T – especially since we visit in mid-winter – before the Florida heat and throngs of Spring Breakers and summer tourists descend upon the area. Except for the year-round residents and ‘snow birds’ (those lucky retirees that spend their winters there), a visit in the cooler months offers perfect beauty, seclusion, and peace and quiet. Temperatures tend to average in the mid-upper 60’s at this time of year, but the warm 70’s are not uncommon and if you are lucky, you might even see 80!
Magnificent sunrises and sunsets, abundant coastal wildlife (both of which I look forward to sharing with you later), skin-loving humidity (ok, hair not so much), deliciously fresh, salty sea breezes, and a surf that can be wild and moody or dead calm, are some of the reasons I’m so pulled to this place. When I gaze into my “crystal ball”, I think I can see the faint outline of a future here. Here’s hoping.
The Emerald Coast is a treat for the senses and a balm for a weary soul.
This side of Heaven, it just doesn’t get much better.