Courtesy of 30A.comEd Rolen of Rolen Studio kiteboarding along Grayton Beach.
For those who prefer a little more action in their daily diet (instead of just beach bummin’ it all day), South Walton offers plenty of activities that will get the adrenaline pumping. Here’s our list of the Top 5 activities for all of you thrill-seekers along 30A.
Kiteboarding combines aspects of wake boarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and gymnastics into one extreme sport that is not for the faint of heart. The kiteboarder straps their feet into a board and uses their arms to control cables attached to a large kite, allowing them to catch wind and make incredibly jumps high into the air.
“I think one of the most compelling aspects of kiteboarding is your ability to be completely in tune with your environment,” said local Ed Rolen of Rolen Studio.
“Engaging in the surf conditions, being pulled around under your own volition and being immersed in the amazing beach environment we have along 30A makes this sport something I try to do as much as possible.”
Where to find it: You can often find Ed sailing through the surf and sky along Grayton Beach.
Around 30A, freshwater springs have formed some deep-water caves that are perfect for the thrill-seeking cave diver. To access most of these caves, divers need the use of scuba gear, so certification and experience are absolutely necessary to ensure safety. For those with the proper credentials, these caves are filled with crystal-clear water and a view of nature that only the daring get to behold. For those without certification, area springs offer guided courses and lessons.
Where to find it: Morrison Springs, a free public park, boasts three underwater caverns, including one about 300 feet deep. Definitely hire a guide or instructor to accompany you. Vortex Springs, a private park, also offers equipment rental and scuba lessons on site.Photo By Perdido Key Parasail
Parasailing involves a parachute towed behind a boat, sending the rider about 500 feet into the air. Feel the rush of the wind and enjoy the quiet peacefulness of the sky as you sail over the emerald waters around 30A. No experience necessary for this adrenaline rush.
Want to see our beaches in a way you’ve never seen them before? Fly through the sky and catch a glimpse of South Walton from a pelican’s-eye view on a Parasailing adventure! Hop on an inflatable banana boat to hitch a ride out to the parasailing boat and enjoy your time in the air.
Throw together a rainy day and the vast amount of nature trails and back roads in the area and you have perfect conditions for off-roading! The 15,400-acre Point Washington State Forest is criss-crossed with dirt-and sand trails, popular with both off-roading motorists and bicyclists.
“After a really heavy rain, splashing through the muddy trails of Point Washington Forest is simultaneous relaxing and exhilarating.”
-Mike Ragsdale, The 30A Company
Where to find it? Find more information and maps of the Point Washington State Forest trails here. The Longleaf Pine Trail system, which has 3.5-, 8-, and 10-mile loops, is great for off-road mountain biking as well.
Although 30A’s Gulf waters are often as smooth as glass, on many days of the year, the waves are ideal for surfing (particularly when there’s a tropical storm brewing somewhere down in the tropics). Professionals and amateur surfers alike patiently bide their time, waiting for red flag beach conditions or a tropical surge that might create the perfect moment. Everyone starts off as a beginner, but kids visiting the beach this summer have a really cool opportunity to get some surf experience at 30A Surf and Stand-up Paddleboard camp!
“Surfing is very different from all other board sports due to the fact that everything around you is moving and the ocean can be very unpredictable,” said Chef Phil McDonald of Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar.
“The feeling you get from catching a really great wave is something I can’t quite describe. You are so focused on that exact moment and nothing else matters. I guess the best description of feeling while surfing would be freedom.”
Where to find it: Anywhere along the Gulf is a good place to start. If you haven’t been on a board and want to learn, 30A Surf Camp‘s experienced instructors can get anyone riding the waves in just a few hours on the water. Book a day for you and the kids with 30A Surf and SUP Camp now!
Author Jordyn Knott (who reportedly had the “best summer ever” interning at The 30A Company) contributed to this article. Knott lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, until she can get back to the beach. Check out her blog at happilychic.com.