I knew I had “beat the heat” the moment my feet touched the white sand of Perdido Key State Park. Farther inland the air was sticky with humidity, the pavement hot to the touch even through my flip flops. By contrast, on the beach the coastal breeze ruffled my hair and the emerald waves of the Gulf of Mexico lapped at my toes, immediately cooling me down. With 1.4 miles of beach, I had plenty of room to stretch out!
Plopping down on our beach chairs, my cousin and I took out our books, relaxing.
Though I tried to read, I was too distracted by the wildlife passing within a few feet of me. First, the crabs appeared. Scuttling in and out of deep holes they dug with their own pincers, they raced across the ground until momentarily halting on a good food source. As they placed the food in their mouths, I watched their black eyes dart rapidly back and forth in search of predators. If I so much as shifted my weight, they would disappear, only returning after a few minutes of silence.
The birds provided another form of constant entertainment. All I had to do was gaze straight out at the flat expanse of the Gulf to see Least and Sandwich Terns, patrolling the shoreline for tiny fish, periodically rising up into the air before plunging down to the water in an acrobatic splash. One brown pelican also hit the water nearby, resting on the surface to swallow its meal before flapping giant wings and regaining the air once more.
The beach itself provided a trove of natural treasure to discover. We combed the piles of shells looking for interesting shapes and colors, spying a tiny sand-dollar and the bleached remnants of a starfish. Though there are a specific species that make the shells their homes, the delicate sizes, shapes, and hues are infinitely varied, and I never tired of looking for novel elements in their temporary home on the sand.
In addition to the park’s natural landscape, its amenities make all beach stays here pleasant. Boardwalks provide easy access to the water across the dunes, while bathrooms and freshwater showers are available to rinse off after a dip in the Gulf. For those who need a break from the sun, covered picnic shelters offer amazing places to have a bite to eat while taking in the scenery.
See all the Firsthand Florida Fun blog posts here.
About Erika: Erika Z. is a writer, birder and photographer living and working along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Her love of the outdoors and sense of adventure leads her to explore Florida’s state parks, state trails and historic sites in her free time.