As Rare As Our Sand

Dune lakes are found in very few places in the world.

These are lakes that create an opening to the Gulf of Mexico in times of high water levels which causes the fresh and salt water to mix and create some of the most distinct ecosystems in the world, harboring many different marine species. The Beaches of South Walton are home to 15 of the most unique and rare coastal dune lakes and all of them are within a 26 mile stretch!

DuneLakesSoWalThese rare dune lake systems can only be found along the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar and in the United States they are found along the Oregon, South Carolina and Northwest Florida coast lines. Because the ecosystems are so rare and they provide such a unique habitat for different plants and animals they are considered wetlands and are therefore protected by the state.

DuneLakesNicStoltzfusWhat makes these lakes so unique is called the outfall. Depending on the tide this is where a channel forms between the lake and the Gulf. Salt water can flow from the Gulf into the fresh water of the lake or from the lake to the Gulf. The water in the lakes is dark brown or tea-colored with natural tannins from leaves falling into the lake, and is not harmful. These outfalls and lakes are favorite recreation areas for visitors and residents. These lakes provide an excellent scenic escape for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

These dune lakes are so incredible that Eric and Elam Stoltzfus has spent the past year or two making a documentary on them. If you want to know more, check out http://www.coastaldunelakes.org/It’s finally finished and is being shown on public access stations in Florida and Alabama this month with it going nationally in July.

For more information about Destin and SoWal county area dune lakes, please visit www.FloridaStateParks.org

If you’d like to check them out for yourself and see what activities are allowed there, the info is here.

If you wish to volunteer in the preservation of these beautiful natural wonders please contact the following:

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) continues to use volunteers to monitor water quality in the dune lakes as well as Choctawhatchee Bay and throughout the Basin watershed. To volunteer for the CBA, contact them through their website at


Walton County Coastal Dune Lake Advisory Board (850) 951-0551

The Coastal Dune Lakes Advisory Board is comprised of county residents and employees of the Walton County Planning Department to ensure the health and environmental integrity of the county’s coastal dune lakes.


Florida Lakewatch: Florida’s Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program

Florida Lakewatch is a volunteer citizen lake monitoring program that facilitates “hands-on” citizen participation in the management of Florida lakes, rivers and coastal sites through monthly monitoring activities. (University of Florida IFAS, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences)


Sea Oats Motel and Management Company proudly supports any effort to keep our emerald coast pristine and beautiful. Come stay with us here in Destin and go exploring some of the most beautiful lakes anywhere in the world. The best part is these lakes are just an outfall away from our beautiful beaches.