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A Real Jewel - Emerald Coast
(2015 - Winter Issue)

Writer: Steve Winston

Pop quiz: How did the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast get its name?

Well, it’s because of the 38 kilometres of sugar-white sand beaches, which are actually made up of very fine quartz that was somehow transported south from the Appalachians millions of years ago. These sugar-white grains of sand reflect sunlight back through the surf, giving the water an emerald-green colour. Hence, the region’s nickname. 

This is a “country” slice of Florida, resplendent with natural beauty and interesting surprises, without the hordes of tourists.

Annual Visitors

From April through November, when you leave the beach, you’re not the last visitor that day. A few hours later, in fact, the beaches bustle with activity.

This is sea turtle nesting season. And the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau and Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council offer Nighttime Educational Beach Walks for the whole family.

Shop, Dine and Dance

You can actually experience all three of the above at the 60 shops, restaurants and nightspots in HarborWalk Village. Destin Commons is a charming, open-air shopping centre with a “village” ambience—and more than 90 specialty stores and restaurants. Downtown Fort Walton Beach also has a number of interesting locally owned shops and boutiques.

Once you’re done shopping at HarborWalk Village, enjoy dinner at the newest restaurant, 10, which serves local specialties in three distinct dining environments. Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer features fresh local seafood and delicious shellfish platters.

Later, dance off those calories at the Club Bimini at AJ’s, rated one of the top 100 nightclubs in America in one poll.


The Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast is the unheralded Florida, a place blessed with soothing sounds, vivid colours, down-home hospitality and unique experiences.

So dip your toes in that sugar-white sand and let the emerald surf wash away your cares. And breathe . . .

Travel Planner

Plan your next getaway to the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast at emeraldcoastfl.com.

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