Texans flock to the panhandle of Florida for many reasons: It’s drivable (but beware of the sneaky Louisiana speed traps), it’s got some of the most beautiful white sand beaches and clear blue water you’ll find in the world and there are 15 unique beach communities along 30A with easy access to the beach and varying price ranges.
Sandestin is the very first of the 30A line-up, just down the road from Destin and around the corner from the popular towns of Seaside and Watercolor. Sandestin is a coastal village, which the locals call “campus,” with everything you need — from a grocery (put in your online order at Publix ahead of your arrival), to plenty of restaurants, trails and really anything you need to vacay all day.
Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort comprises the bulk of this seaside town. Here, you’ll find loads of choices for accommodation, from hotels to condos to homes. Check out Osprey Pointe for a spacious condo option. Just inside the gates of the community, Osprey Pointe has five buildings, each with four floors of condos, overlooking the bay on one side and a pool on the other.
With the 3-bedroom option, you’ll enjoy an open floor plan with full kitchen, living room, washer/dryer and a spacious patio. The master bedroom is large and in charge with a cavernous ensuite bathroom; there’s a room with two single beds and its own bathroom and another bedroom with a queen which uses the third guest bathroom.
Bonus: As a Sandestin® Golf and Beach Resort guest, you will receive complimentary unlimited health club access for adults and a 4-hour bicycle rental daily for two. Also included are 1-hour of kayaking (seasonal), 1-hour of boogie board (seasonal), and 1-hour of tennis courts each day per unit (after the hours of 11 am). Also, registered guests are entitled to resort transportation to/from designated stops. Download the app for the resort tram schedule and live map.
Enjoy time at Sandestin’s Marina Bar & Grill for a chill vibe, mostly outdoor seating overlooking the yacht-filled marina. Locals line up along the popular bar and reservations are recommended. Settle in with a La Crema chardonnay and order up hearty apps like Nachos or Grouper Fish Dip. Entrees include a relaxed menu such as a Fried Grouper Sandwich, Hamburger or a daily special, such as Tomato Bisque Soup with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. You’ll really soak up the community’s coastal living here.
Whether you stay at Sandestin’s posh Hotel Effie or not, you can enjoy a full day of vacay here. Book a treatment at the bougie Spa Lilliana. Indulge in the Spa Lilliana Massage (60/90 min; $170/225) for a truly customized massage treatment. Whether you’re looking for aromatherapy relaxation or a therapeutic sports massage, there’s a table for you. Make time to relax and read in their quiet room with loungers you won’t want to leave.
Sipping and Supping
But when you do leave, head up to the top floor to enjoy a drink at Ara, which offers a brightly designed indoor bar and outdoor rooftop pool (said to be the best spot in Sandestin on a gorgeous bluebird day). From specialty cocktails to frozen strawberry margaritas or a bloody mary, you’ll soak in the reason you escaped to Florida.
When you’re ready for a delicious dinner, head back downstairs to the first floor’s Ovide restaurant, with all the charm and class Sandestin exudes. Settle in with a bottle of bold red (Es Okay from Mendocino County is a delight) while you enjoy a sharable starter such as the flavorful Burrata (small, but mighty), Chargrilled Octopus or Roasted Gulf Oysters (make sure you get your fill of Gulf seafood while you can). For your main, enjoy each savory bite of the Lobster Risotto, a creamy mix of Maine lobster with pecorino, or a Pan Roasted Snapper nestled on a Thai chili emulsion. The sharable sides, which you might want to try one of each, include a healthy Grilled Broccolini or Wild Mushrooms, or an indulgent bowl of Rice Grits with smocked ham.
Across the Emerald Coast Parkway from Sandestin Resort sits the Hilton Sandestin right on the beach. With two outdoor pools, an indoor pool and hot tubs both in and out, this pool deck that leads on to the pure white sand beach is all you need for a day of beach bummin’. Reserve a beach set-up with chairs and an umbrella (or grab a chaise lounge on the pool deck overlooking the beach) for a sunny day escape. Wander up to Barefoot’s Grill midday and get your fill of fried grouper tacos, a burger with fries or leaner salad for swimsuit season.
Serenity by the Sea Spa
As a lavish add-on to your day, book a service at the world-class Serenity by the Sea Spa, steps away from the beach. Take your pick from a massive menu of treatment choices and build several extra hours into your experience to enjoy their amenities of steam room, dry sauna and indoor jacuzzi. (Make sure you push the waterfall button!) There are two relaxation lounges — one bright and airy (and a bit loud) and another tucked away in a dark corner, perfect for reading a juicy novel in peace. To crank up the craic (an Irish term for fun), order lunch to be delivered: a Wood-fired Margherita Pizza, a Cobb Salad or Burrata, paired with a low sugar Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc. (Because we’re there for our health!)
Yet More Sandestin Suggestions
Another Broken Egg Cafe
Sunset Bay Cafe
Kayak/Boogie Board/Paddle Board
Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille
Sunset Bay Cafe
The Drunken Goat Saloon
The Village Door
Explore the village of Baytowne Wharf
Bicycle ride (Call 850-267-6363 to arrange for bike pickup/dropoff)
Snack for the sweet-tooth at Moo La-La Ice Cream & Desserts or Tony Larue’s
Why not sign up now for our newsletter to get the best of Texas in your inbox?
Cover photo courtesy Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career in 2002 with Austin Woman Magazine and now writes their “The Texas Traveler” section. She can be seen as a contributor on TV shows across Texas, offering travel tips.