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Have you decided on what you’re going to do this summer? After all, the bright and sunny season is the perfect time for family reunions, corporate retreats, family gatherings, and enjoying the world outside.

If you’re thinking about where to go, consider the beautiful town of Destin, Florida. The city is known for great fishing, seafood restaurants offering fresh catch, and relaxing views of the Gulf of Mexico. When it gets too hot, you can cool off in its sparkling emerald green water and lounge around its white sandy shores.

Destin’s list of attractions doesn’t end there. Vacationers and tourists also get to enjoy various activities like dolphin cruises, parasailing, visiting theme parks, different watersports, and more.

If this slice of heaven sounds like what you’ve been searching for, book a vacation rental through Destin Dreamers. We are a local real estate company offering several gorgeous listings from four-bedroom rentals to nine-bedroom houses that can accommodate 12 to 38 guests.

Take a look at some of our featured listings:

Dolphin Dreams

A popular luxury house is Dolphin Dreams! This Destin luxury vacation home is a spacious three-floor house that can accommodate up to 22 guests. It has 7 bedrooms with king-sized beds and a bunk room with 4 queen-sized beds.Dolphin Dreams Luxury House

The house can host a wine party or a game night with its wet bars on all floors. This home also comes with wine coolers, an ice machine, and a patio with lounge chairs and large couches. In addition, there’s a gaming room with an air hockey table, ping-pong table, cornhole setup, and more so you and your guests will never run out of things to do.

Dolphin Dreams’ list of amenities also include a hot tub, a swimming pool, an outside kitchen with grill, and tanning decks — perfect for pool parties and outdoor barbeques! You’ll love coming home to Dolphin Dreams after exploring Destin or engaging in its many activities.

Book your next vacation at Dolphin Dreams.

Silver Beach Retreat

Have you ever dreamed of living right next to the beach? This summer, you can live the dream by renting the Silver Beach Retreat, a luxury vacation rental that sits right by the shores of Destin. If you want to be treated to gorgeous views of the water, all you have to do is look out the windows or step out onto the deck for a breathtaking look of the ocean.

Silver Beach RetreatSilver Beach Retreat has 4 story’s, 4 bedrooms, and 4.5 baths — perfect for groups of 12. There are 2 master suites with king beds, a suite with a queen bed, a bunk room, and a parking garage.

Enjoy a newly remodeled kitchen, a walk-in pantry, and new top-of-the-line appliances. This home comes with enough seating areas, a large-screen TV, and an outdoor patio that overlooks the ocean. There’s a grill that you can use and an eating area so you can enjoy your meals by the sea.

Come stay at the Silver Beach Retreat.

Destination Dolphin

Another Destin luxury vacation home offered by Destin Dreamers is the Destination Dolphin. Just minutes away from the beach, numerous restaurants, and outdoor malls, the house is a beautiful and luxurious vacation home that’s perfect for all your events.

Destination DolphinDestination Dolphin is a three-floor house large enough to accommodate a maximum of 21 guests with its six available bedrooms. Complete with living amenities like a flat-screen television, private balcony, swimming pool, bath tub, laundry room, and walk-in shower, you’ll have everything you need to provide you and your guests with an enjoyable vacation experience. It also comes equipped with comfortable couches, kitchen appliances, silverware, dishes, and kitchen utensils.

Live large by stepping into Destination Dolphin’s private heated pool or enjoy shooting hoops in the backyard. This vacation rental gives you plenty of things to do whether you want to spend the day indoors or prefer to explore the surrounding area by shopping, dining, and enjoying its seaside location.

 

Sapphire Shores

Half a block away from the beach is one of Destin Dreamers’ most luxurious and spacious homes. Sapphire Shores is a resort-style home that’s ideal for hosting events with up to 38 people. This 11-bedroom home stands out with its many amenities like the game room, bar area, heated pool, and outdoor kitchen. To make getting around easier, this rental also comes with a golf cart that you can zip around town in.

Most of the rooms have private bathrooms and walk-in showers. All bedrooms have flat-screen TVs. The game roomSaphire Shores lets you play table tennis, pool, and arcade games. When you get to the top floor of Sapphire Shores, enjoy a 360-degree view of the city and the gulf.

Though it stands 4-stories high, this vacation home has a convenient elevator for guests to use. The ground floor can sleep 20 people while the second floor can accommodate 6, and the third floor sleeps 12.

With palm trees bordering the property, a fire pit, and deck chairs surrounding the pool, Sapphire Shores is the embodiment of a tropical getaway. Come stay at Sapphire Shores.

 

Book Your Ultimate Summer Vacation With Destin Dreamers

Regardless of the event that you’re planning, make it a Destin corporate retreat, getaway, or reunion. Each Destin luxury vacation home has several amenities and creature comforts to make any stay memorable and truly relaxing. If you’re hosting an event or get-together, you can proudly lease our homes and give your guests the kind of experience that they’ll be hard-pressed to forget.

Renting a Destin luxury vacation home comes with many exciting features to make your vacation away from home extra special. Guests can look forward to luxurious swimming pools, gorgeous views, comfortable bedrooms, bar areas, game rooms, and so much more.

As if these spacious and luxurious homes weren’t enough, the charming town and beaches in the area will give you a wide variety of activities to choose from.

Destin Dreamers is a trusted, reliable builder and real estate management company in the area. For the best getaways, look through the destin luxury vacation properties we offer. If you own property in Destin or are looking to buy one, we can also help you with our real estate services.

If you read up on the history of our white sandy beaches, the Destin Chamber of commerce has a great summary of our sands as follows:

“The unique sand of the beaches in the Destin area is among the whitest and most homogeneous of the world.

Consisting of small quartz particles, this sand came from a process involving the Appalachian Mountains and the Apalachicola River 20,000 years ago. At the end of the last Ice Age when the world temperatures began warming and the ice caps began melting, large volumes of water were carried by the rivers to the world’s oceans. The Apalachicola River, rising in the Appalachians, carried water to the Gulf of Mexico and continues today.

This water carried the quartz particles from the rock that forms the Appalachian Mountains and deposited them in the Gulf of Mexico, just 125 miles to the east of what is now Destin. As the sea level began to rise, these quartz sands eventually formed a new shoreline. The sands today continually replenish and reach as far west as the Pensacola Pass, their final destination.”

As great of a summary as that is, there is so much more going on and if science is about observation and if it is correct that this happened 20,000 years ago, how is it still being replenished today?

A 1 hour drive North from Destin will take you upon many of our local treasures, the natural cold water springs located in and around Ponce De Leon, Florida. These tranquil springs, which include but are not limited to Ponce de Leon, Morrison, Vortex and Cypress Springs, are marvels to come and visit and explore. In fact, there are over 16 springs that tourists can come and visit within an hour and a half from Destin. With water temperatures ranging from 65-68 degrees, the water is typically too cold to see any alligators and just perfect for swimming on those hot Florida summer days. Notice the picture below of how these springs surround the Chactawhatchee River Basin just outside of Destin and all flow into our basin supplying the gulf with this incredible crystal clear water and….you guessed it, pure white sand.

So, what are springs?

Springs are portals where water in the earth’s aquifers, rises to the surface and escapes into our streams, lakes and coastal waters. There are two general types of springs in Florida, seeps (water-table springs) and karst springs (artesian springs). The springs in Northwest Florida are karst springs. Karst topography is a landscape created by groundwater dissolving into sedimentary rock such as limestone. This creates landforms such as shafts, tunnels, caves, and sinkholes. The Dougherty Karst Plain underlies our area. (https://waltonoutdoors.com/springs/)

The fact that karst springs are predominately in the Northwest of Florida is very critical to my observations and understanding of where our sand is deriving from. A water table spring (Seeps) is simply an over abundance of water, whether due to rain, runoff or other natural causes which cause the water to rise equal to the land surface and flow out as gravity pushes this water to its closest exit point. Karst springs, however, often have a very high discharge rate, because they are often fed by underground drainage from a large catchment basin. Because the springs are usually the terminus of a cave drainage system at the place where a river cave reaches the Earth’s surface, it is often possible to enter the caves from karst springs for exploration. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karst_spring)

As aforementioned, these surrounding springs are all Kasrt Spings with incredible cave systems at depths over 300ft. Being that I am an avid scuba diving enthusiast, I have dove these cave systems many times and would like to offer some observations from those dives. Surrounding these cave systems you will notice an abundance of pure white sand and crystal clear water. As this sand is forced out from these cave systems it mixes with local vegetation and discolors the further you get from Destin traveling East or West.

So, are these caves resupplying our coastline?

That would require an incredible amount of pressure to do, correct? Well, in fact these caves are resupplying our coastline; let me explain. Diving down to the absolute furthest depth I was capable (app. 130ft), there were mounds of pure white sand out flowing from channels within the rocks that you could clearly observe in real time the sand flowing out of. Furthermore, and just as an example, Morrison Springs can produce up to 70,000,000 gallons of water per day. The pressure emitted from these cavities is so strong, when diving, you have to quite literally climb your way down the sides of the walls or risk being pushed back up through the entrance which, any dive enthusiast will explain to you the risk of ascending too quickly to the surface. This volume and velocity of water flowing through these underground cavities is removing sediment and debris along the way, crushing it and forcing it out and up to the surface which is then carried down these river systems to our Choctawhatchee river basin. Take a few hours to travel along our coastline and no matter which direction you travel, the sand gets more yellow or mixed with shells and less “fine” the further you travel from these springs. The fine quartz makeup within these cave system clearly were formed long ago but it is my understanding from personal observations that these springs are the “vein” for our coastline to be replenished of this incredible natural resource each year. Our family has traveled all over the world and seen many amazing beaches with incredible picturesque coral reefs and scenery but nowhere in all of our travels have we found sand so fine and soft that it feels as though you are walking through flour.

So come on down and visit our incredible beaches and stay in our amazing homes and see for yourself the natural wonder of our North American Coastline, our white sand. Next time you step on it and it squeaks as you walk softly across its surface, you will have a little better understanding of how it came to be here and how God made this all for our enjoyment.

God Bless and thank you for reading.

Crab Island, Destin Florida

Just the name itself is synonymous with mystery and excitement and beloved by all who have come here and graced its crystal clear waters and snorkeled along its sand bars. But what do we really know about Crab Island? Interesting when I researched the topic I found that there just wasn’t a lot of data or scientific studies that I could dive into that gave me flow charts, tidal current analysis or information that I could use to advance my own hypothesis or credit another individual for scientific observations that could help us understand this very complex natural phenomenon and how to protect it for future generations. So, in the hunt for knowledge, I decided to research it myself and give past, present and future insight to the subject for those of you who may be interested while also making the general public aware of how today’s activities and marine improvements will likely impact this natural marvel we have all come to love in the coming decades.

History:

Going back as far as the first records of the island, the locals here referred to the island as “Bird Island”. Why, you may ask? Well, simply put because it was dry land that many different species of native birds frequented throughout the day and rested upon in the evenings. The island was well established with vegetation, sea grasses, sea oats and even tidal pools which many fish undoubtedly used for ambushing incoming and outgoing schools of fish as well as possible spawning grounds for many different species.

But as wonderful as the island was, it was just a landmark for the local fishing fleets looking to navigate through the treacherous East Pass out to the rich hunting grounds of the Gulf Coast. In a haste to create a sustainable and navigatable channel for the ever growing number of fishing charters, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to step in and embark on a 36 year old endeavor to dredge and secure the canal for commercial activity.

According to a 1992 report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the East Pass of Destin was first dredged in 1931 to remove sand and make it safer to navigate. The pass was dredged a total of 22 times between April 1931 and December 1967, when construction on the jetties started.

According to the report, during the 1950s vessel traffic through East Pass ranged from 4,000 to 6,000 trips per year. And despite regular dredging, “East Pass was considered to be generally unsatisfactory for navigation. Shoaling was rapid, and channel depths reverted to 7 to 8 feet shortly after each dredging.” So to “enhance navigation and reduce the annual maintenance,” a proposal to build jetties to protect the mouth of the pass was birthed in 1963. (thedestinlog)

The Jetties are comprised of over 61,000 tons of cover stone and 24,000 tons of blanket material brought down by barge from Kentucky.

Have the jetties served their purpose?

“It made (traversing in and out of the the pass) more doable,“ said retired charter boat Capt. Kelly Windes. “It’s not perfect but there were times that you absolutely could not come and go before the jetties.”

The jetties have “definitely made it safer,” Windes said, who fished for more than four decades out of Destin.

However, Windes did say there are days “you still can’t come and go, because of lack of dredging because it’s too shallow.”

“It was suppose to give us a deep channel,” Gentry said. “But I don’t remember it making a big difference for us. (thedestinlog)

So what affects have these “improvements” made on the marine environment and how has that altered the state of the island as we know it today?

This is one of the earliest aerial photos of the East Pass, post construction of the bridge but prior to further dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers. You can clearly see the current and how the ebbs and flows have shifted the sands in such a way that it would be conducive for an island to exist on the north side of the pass at this time. Although it is difficult to see, the island is in fact dry with the currents surrounding the island and not conflicting with its topography.

 

Dredging Takes its Toll

Interestingly, when researching the history of Crab Island, all accounts seem to point to Hurricane Eloise as the leading cause to the islands disappearance. Not to undermine the significance of that event, which I will get to later, I do disagree that this is the “leading” cause to its deterioration. In fact, the evidence speaks a different truth. Notice from the photo above how the dredging of the East Pass by the Army Corps of Engineers has started to drastically alter the Ebbs and Flow of the current. The Ebb and Flow (also called ebb flood and flood drain) are two phases of the tide or any similar movement of water.

The ebb is the outgoing phase, when the tide drains away from the shore; and the flow is the incoming phase when water rises again. Each phase of the construction of the Jetty’s and corresponding dredging takes a huge toll on the way these flows navigate the channel thus altering the current and therefore whatever sand or non permanent structure could impede its natural inclination; which is to find the quickest path from point A to point B. To give an illustration, take a water hose and turn it on, unobstructed. Notice that the pressure is manageable with the flow of water expelled not very abrasive at all. However, put your thumb over 3/4 of the end of the hose and the pressure increases making the outbound water abrasive and forceful. The same can be said with these canals and how these Jetty’s are “funneling” the water to a narrower opening building up the pressure and volume needing to ebb and flow through it. But to understand the ebb and flow, maybe we should look at what volume of water is needing to navigate this little opening.

The Choctawhatchee Bay is NOT a little body of water. It is a significant body of water encompassing nearly 13,856 km2 (5,350 mi2) and spans portions of northwest Florida and southern Alabama. It connects to Santa Rosa Sound in Fort Walton Beach, Florida to the west and to St. Andrews Bay in Bay County to the east, via the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the East Pass in Destin is the ONLY outlet of the Bay flowing directly into the Gulf of Mexico.

Now imagine that volume of water being forced through a tiny pinhole (Destin’s East Pass) multiple times a day and what long term impact that could have on the surrounding islands, sand bars and habitats.

 

What prevents marine erosion and what are the contributing causes?

Sea Grass and other terrestrial plants play a significant role in the marine topography around a coastline and is heavily protected by The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Beaches Programs, within the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection. However, theres a couple natural and unnatural factors at play here that contribute to erosion as it pertains to Crab Island.

Because freshwater inflow and poor flushing heavily influence Choctawhatchee Bay, the bay exhibits extremes of fresh water, which are marine conditions that may contribute naturally to declines and expansions of seagrass beds. While it appears that the bay has supported varying amounts of seagrass in the last 50 yr, seagrass areas have declined in several locations since the 1950s.

The health of the bay and its seagrass beds is being threatened by increased development in the Choctawhatchee Bay watershed. Increasing numbers of people desire to be
on or near the water, whether for living, recreation, or both. As environmentally attractive and sensitive lands are more heavily used, stress on the resources, including sensitive habitats such as seagrass beds, is increasing.

The lack of protection of these terrestrial plants as it relates to Crab Island has further compounded the situation. I will admit, as will most natives to the area, that I have been out to Crab Island countless times digging my feet into its sand and swimming within its tranquil water. But, that has had a significant negative impact on its deterioration as the growing number of tourists desire to do the same. These grass beds are being uprooted and the infrastructure that is desperately trying to remain intact is slowly being destroyed. Simply put, if the grass beds deteriorate, the island will cease to exist. But what proof do I have of this?

 

Disaster Strikes the Emerald Coast: Bird Island Lost

On September 23rd, 1975 Hurricane Eloise struck Destin.

According to weather.gov thousands of trees were toppled and utility lines were knocked down across the area. 85-90% of the buildings between Fort Walton Beach and Panama City, FL (on the Gulf side of Highway 98) were severely damaged or destroyed. At least 150 buildings were destroyed or un-repairable, 75 motel foundations were destroyed and 400 other buildings were damaged in that area.

Storm surge was extensive along the coast with observations of storm tide (storm surge + tide) as high as 10.6 feet in Destin, FL with higher values further to the east of the track of Eloise. Eloise severely damaged several piers across the panhandle, including the destruction of the relatively newly built Okaloosa Island Pier. Beaches were destroyed and dunes were undermined. 30-70 feet of sand dune width was eroded during Eloise. Storm surge washed away structures and streets across northwest Florida as can be seen in the before and after photos below. More than 30 boats moored in Destin, FL were destroyed or sunk with some reportedly “stacked like toys” according to the NOAA Assessment.

This natural disaster was the tipping point for what little sea grass and sea beds remained that clung on to their decades of growth preventing any massive shift of sand caused by human interaction. This was the catalyst that pushed a few decades worth of erosion, caused by the East Pass expansion efforts, to take place immediately and for the powers at be to predictably blame the Hurricane as the root cause for the erosion. But, this was just the tip of the iceberg.  I do not believe this was the root cause of the erosion as I have aforementioned in my research above.

 

Crab Island Today

Looking at the completion of our city’s master plan for the development of the East Pass Channel, the Getty’s and further preventative measures taken around Norriego Point, you can now finally see the huge impact it has played on what remains of Crab Island. Notice how the forced volume of water is starting to shift the island; even displacing it to the East in what appears to be a new island in the beginning stages of development.

Now consider how crowded Crab Island is year after year and what impact that is having on its sea grass growth and you can quickly see that this beloved natural attraction, that is an icon of Destin, may only be a memory in the not too distant future.