Coastal Dune Lakes - Paddling

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About

Summary

Paddle among one of the most picturesque lakes in northwest Florida, the Coastal Dune Lakes. Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, sandy lakes are nestled among sea grass-covered knolls. 15 lakes stretch along the 26 miles of coastline from Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to Rosemary Beach and are perfect spots to kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.

Written by

Alexa Lampasona

Distance

0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

83.6 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Each of the Coastal Dune Lakes vary in size, but all are easy to paddle for beginners. Depending on the wind, stand-up paddling can be more difficult than kayaking or canoeing

Time To Complete

2 hours

Can be out for as long or little as you want! The lakes are small in size but close by.

Seasonality

Spring and Summer

Dog Friendly

No

Dogs are not allowed in the water.

Fees Permits

No

Unless in one of the state parks.

Topographical Map

Map of Coastal Dune Lakes

Land Website

Coastal Dune Lakes

Review

Intro

Paddle among one of the most picturesque lakes in northwest Florida, the Coastal Dune Lakes. Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, sandy lakes are nestled among sea grass-covered knolls. 15 lakes stretch along the 26 miles of coastline from Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to Rosemary Beach and are perfect spots to kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.

What Makes It Great

The Coastal Dune Lakes are a rare geological phenomenon, where a mix of fresh and saltwater merge in the lakes’ calm waters. The lakes are located just beyond the towering sand dunes that line the Gulf of Mexico, and during heavy storms, water from the Gulf creates connections, known as outfalls, that swap salt water and organisms with the lakes’ fresh water. These rare lakes are found only in select locations, besides northwest Florida, including the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Oregon and South Carolina. The waters are dark brown in color, but are safe to swim in - the color comes from the tannin produced by nearby trees.

Three of the larger lakes are located furthest west at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park: Fuller Lake, Morris Lake, and Campbell Lake. Visitors to the park can rent canoes and paddle on the park’s most popular lake, Campbell Lake.

The middle section of the Coastal Dune Lakes is home to Grayton Beach and Seaside, two quirky communities that offer plenty to do after you get off the water. The largest lake sits in between these communities; Western Lake. It is located in Grayton Beach State Park, and offers 100 acres of water as smooth and flat as glass. Paddle to the secluded inlets and keep an eye out for egrets, osprey, gulls and tortoises.

Who is Going to Love It

Each of the Coastal Dune Lakes vary in size, but all are easy to paddle for beginners. Depending on the wind, stand-up paddling can be more difficult than kayaking or canoeing. For those looking for solitude in nature, the Coastal Dune Lakes are teeming with wildlife, as the waters are a combination of salt and freshwater. Explore the shores and shallow waters to find ideal spots for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddling.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Because of the transitional flow from the Gulf to the Coastal Lakes, the water levels can change dramatically, so check before you paddle. Most lakes average about five feet in depth. Frequent rain will mean the lakes will have higher water levels.

Parking can be a little tricky, since some of the land surrounding the lakes is private property. Your best bet is to park along Highway 30A, where parking is permitted, unless there is a sign saying otherwise. Public access to the dunes is available at several points. View a map of access points here. 

Location

Coastal Dune Lakes

Scenic Highway 30A
Santa Rosa, FL, 32459
30.481267, -87.162532

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