See What’s Under the Sea
On the surface, South Walton is sugar-white sand beaches and turquoise water, but you may not know that some of its most beautiful sights are concealed beneath the waves. Some of the most forward-thinking and beautiful attractions in the world are right here on the Gulf of Mexico's floor.
The South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA), a local nonprofit building artificial reefs to increase habitats for marine life, has completed four snorkel reefs in South Walton. In addition to a turtle-shaped reef offshore near Grayton Beach State Park, they've placed a seahorse-shaped reef off Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, a grouper-shaped reef off of Inlet Beach and a dolphin-shaped reef in Miramar Beach.
On top of the four snorkel reefs, SWARA has plans for nine more diving reefs, further from shore and more appropriate for SCUBA diving. Whether you just want to get your feet wet (so to speak) or you're a certified scuba diver, you'll see spectacular sights that also contribute to making the ocean a better habitat for marine life.
Plus, in June of 2018, SWARA and the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County launched the Underwater Museum of Art – the first of its kind in the United States. Seven artists were selected to create underwater sculptures for the first installment, intended to enhance ecological, creative, cultural, economic and educational opportunities for guests and locals alike. Even before it launched, UMA already garnered national attention from publications like Smithsonian.com.
The sculptures reside in fifty to sixty feet of water off Grayton Beach, where they serve both as art and as a habitat for marine life. Who said beauty can't be functional?
And with all this underwater activity happening just off the beach, you'll want to be sure to brush up on your beach safety. Maybe most relevant is the beach flag system, which quickly communicates current water conditions.
If you didn't think you could possibly pack more exploring into a South Walton trip, you've got some reconsidering to do this summer. Grab a snorkel and grab a friend, because we're going exploring under the sea!