Stretching east along Florida's Emerald Coast for 26 glorious miles, the Scenic 30A Highway is a haven for vacationers and luxury home seekers, offering a wide variety of luxury residential real estate, high-end neighborhoods, and an abundance of things to do and see. But more than anything else, the region is teeming with natural wonder.
The beaches and glassy-teal waters of the Gulf of Mexico are the main draws, with the 129 square mile Choctawhatchee Bay and several state parks further enhancing the area's coastal landscape. However, among 30A's most vital environmental marvels are its 15 named coastal dune lakes.
Globally, these unique treasures are rare and found in just a handful of locations, including Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, and Oregon. That said, the 26-mile stretch of 30A in Walton County boasts the most in a single place. These stream and rain-fed lakes connect with the Gulf of Mexico via a beach-bound two-way outfall. The shallow freshwater of the lakes—many 30A dune lakes are less than five feet deep—mixes with the Gulf's salty sea water, creating an intricate ecosystem that supports diverse wildlife and allows for numerous recreational opportunities. Let’s explore the coastal dune lakes of 30A, their locations, the activities they support, and the luxury housing developments nearby.
Fuller Lake, Morris Lake, and Campbell Lake
Overseen by the outstanding Florida State Parks service, 90-acre Campbell Lake and 75-acre Morris Lake are within the beautiful 1,640-acre Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, one of four state parks along 30A. Both bodies of water are open for recreational opportunities, including bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. These are among the most tranquil of 30A's coastal dune lakes.
Stalworth Lake, Allen Lake, and Oyster Lake
A portion of Stalworth Lake, the smallest of the three Dune Allen lakes, resides within the Topsail Preserve, though the largest segment sits above the gated, non-rental community of Stallworth Preserve. Serving as a picturesque buffer between the neighborhood and larger developments closer to 30A, this is one of the most secluded and breathtaking locations in the entire region.
The 20-acre Allen Lake is the heart of the Dune Allen community; its outfall is hidden underneath Scenic 30A and the adjacent Dune Allen beach. Allen Lake's popularity stems from the presence of Stinky's Fish Camp on its western shore. The local seafood institution is among the most popular of 30A's outstanding collection of waterfront dining experiences.
The third of Dune Allen's coastal dune lakes is the gorgeous 22-acre Oyster Lake. Wholly exposed to Scenic 30A Highway, Oyster Lake is a favorite in this quiet, upscale community, particularly for joggers, bikers, and pedestrians as they venture by on the 18.5-mile Timpoochee Trail. Neighborhoods situated around Santa Rosa Golf and Beach Club access the adjacent Lake Causeway Neighborhood Beach via a pedestrian bridge on the eastern edge of Oyster Lake. The lake is ideal for novice paddleboarders and birdwatching enthusiasts.
Including the sought-after neighborhoods of Draper Lake Coastal Village, Old Florida Beach, and the otherworldly The Retreat planned community, purchasing a home around Draper Lake represents the pinnacle of 30A ownership. The tranquil body of water offers resident-only kayaking, paddle boarding, and low-key fishing from private docks within a serene, natural amphitheater. Non-residents can enjoy the lake's northernmost section by birdwatching and snapping Instagram-worthy pics from a picturesque covered bridge along the Timpoochee Trail.
Big Redfish Lake and Little Redfish Lake
The 22-acre Big Redfish Lake supports several high-end developments around its active shoreline. Secluded single-family homes along Blue Lake Road occupy the lake's western and southern edges. The luxurious condo communities of Sanctuary at Redfish and Sanctuary By The Sea sit along the northern and eastern sides of the lake, respectively.
Lakeside houses include private docks and the capability to canoe, kayak, or paddle board directly to Blue Mountain Beach. Condo units provide shared access to Big Redfish Lake and stunning views of the Gulf's emerald waters.
Little Redfish Lake is a smaller, more intimate setting than its sibling to the west. The gated, ultra-exclusive enclave of Bannerman Beach features a handful of custom beachfront estates overlooking Little Redfish Lake's dune-framed outfall. Homes in the gated, equally luxe Red Lane neighborhood offer lake access via private dock. The public can access Little Redfish Lake through Grayton Beach State Park.
Alligator Lake features limited access via the Grayton Beach State Park cabins, where park visitors will find the calm, secluded waters a favorite spot for canoeing and paddle boarding, fishing, and exploring the lake's quarter mile of beachfront shoreline.
Western Lake is the second largest 30A dune lake and embodies the area's natural grandeur. The centerpiece of the 2,200-acre Grayton Beach State Park, the lake can be approached as three distinct segments:
To the north and east of Scenic 30A, the lake borders Grayton Beach State Park and is accessible via the park's Western Lake Loop Trail. Also, adjacent to the Watercolor neighborhood, residents and visitors can access the lake via the Watercolor Boathouse or venture across a narrow via a 500-foot-long pedestrian bridge.
The main section of Western Lake sits just south of 30A. This area is a primary playground for outdoor enthusiasts and those who appreciate the tranquility of nature. Except for the Grayton Beach State Park Campground, this part of the lake remains undeveloped. The lake is accessible from the campground, a non-motorized boat ramp, and two parking areas from Main Park Road, the second of which allows access to the park's Gulf-front beach. Activities and recreational opportunities on and off the water include biking, birdwatching, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, paddleboarding, and swimming.
The far western segment of Western Lake is partially developed, featuring the gated LakePlace at Grayton Beach and numerous cottages and bespoke beachfront homes in Grayton Beach's Emerald Coast neighborhood. If you're intrigued by the idea of waking up to the breathtaking vistas of Western Lake, the Gulf of Mexico, or both, this is the premier place to do so.
Eastern Lake, Deer Lake, Camp Creek Lake, and Lake Powell
The first three lakes—Eastern, Deer, and Camp Creek—are also the last of the 30A dune lakes in Walton County.
Located in the Seagrove Beach community, the 60-acre Eastern Lake is segmented into two distinct areas by Scenic 30A. The northern half is largely undeveloped, with visitors able to access the lake's namesake campgrounds from Point Washington State Forest. The famous 30A eatery Old Florida Fish House is just off the main highway. The southern half of Eastern Lake is among the most developed dune lakes, including the gated luxury enclave of Lakewood Pointe Estates. In all, more than 100 homes or homesites are located directly on the lake.
The centerpiece of the 1,920-acre Deer Lake State Park, Deer Lake is a memorizing natural habitat featuring a landscape of dunes, sandhills, scrub, marshland, and beach. Visitors can access portions of the park, lake, and beach from a quarter-mile-long boardwalk and partake in birdwatching, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and swimming in and around the lake area.
Bisected by 30A, the 70-acre Camp Creek Lake is a popular recreational and real estate destination for those in love with all this celebrated region has to offer. Tucked between the communities of Watersound and Seacrest Beach, Camp Creek Lake is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by a strip of beach and dunes, providing residents and visitors with a convergence of lake, land, and sea. Watersound's lakefront neighborhoods make the most of this stunning location with waterfront boardwalks and pedestrian bridges that cross the lake and its Gulf-bound outfall.
At 800 acres, Lake Powell is the largest of the 30A coastal dune lakes and the largest such lake in North America. Though only 30 acres of the lake are physically located in Walton County just east of the Rosemary Beach and Inlet Beach communities, it remains a favorite of both Walton and Bay County residents as it allows motorized boats and watercraft. The vast coastal dune lake is also accessible from Camp Helen State Park, where beachcombing, hiking, salt and freshwater fishing, and swimming are all favorite pursuits.