Just a few weeks ago, I was hosted on a trip to Florida’s Emerald Coast to check out the activities, food, beaches, some lodging and more. It was a quick weekend trip that was packed full of good food and good fun.
We started our morning at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park with a tour through the facility. From the front, it doesn’t seem all that big, but once inside, you see jus how large it is. It spans very deep and is actually on the Gulf!
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is dedicated to educating, entertaining, and inspiring our guests to respect and preserve wildlife by providing unique and memorable experiences for visitors of all ages to connect with marine life.
They have dolphin shows (both of whom happened to be pregnant at the time). They had more mild shows because of this, but they were very educational. Did you know that a dolphin comes out tail first when it’s born and it’s fin is all floppy and hardens as the dolphin is born? This was very surprising to me. Oh, and they have belly buttons, too!
In addition to shows, there are exhibits where you can see other gulf/sea animals that are in need of rehabilitation or can’t be released back into the wild. I’m still convinced this little guy was trying to eat me.
From the observation deck, even on a cloudy day, you can see just how white the sand is and how green the water appears to be.
One of favorites is “Floater” a sea turtle that was injured with by a boat. When her shell grew back, a bubble formed and she is unable to submerge. Because of her inability to get away from predators as well as boats, she now calls the Gulfarium her permanent home.
The sea lions put on quite the amusing show as well with dancing and handstands. And they finished off the show with a great skill they had been practicing for many months.
There are a ton of animals and sea life to be seen at the Gulfarium making it a great stop for adults and kids alike.
Bote took us on a Paddle Board or Bote board trip in the harbor. It was great talking with the owner and founder of the Paddleboard company as well as paddling around the harbor and getting some exercise. I was able to put some of my old water skiing skills to use, but they definitely aren’t necessary.
You can sit, kneel or stand on the board while paddling to find your comfort zone. And, believe it or not, we all managed to stay on our boards and nobody fell in the water. We went on a 2 mile trip and it took us about 1 hour to complete. It was nice to be out on the calm water, getting exercise and getting familiar with the harbor area. There are a ton of good restaurants all within a very short distance of each other.
While Bote doesn’t do paddle boarding trips for the public, many of the rental companies use Bote boards for their rentals at the Emerald Coast and even in many surrounding areas. And, yes, they have life jackets if you want to wear them, bring them and/or use them.
After the workout we got paddle boarding, it was time to head to the spa for a massage. The Spa Emerald Grande Spa was a great place to relax, get a massage or facial or other skin treatment or even a manicure and pedicure. When it was over, they had spacious showers and a sauna to fully relax and get cleaned up to head out to a nice dinner. Of course, they also had nice squishy robes and smoothies to enjoy while patiently waiting for our turns.
Before the day was over, we had one more outing planned; a sunset cruise with Southern Star Dolphin Cruise. The weather was a little wet and overcast, but our voyage still went on. We found the playful dolphins in the choppy water where the harbor met the bay and the gulf.
photo via: momspotted
Apparently, dolphins like to play in the rough waters, but it’s not so nice on the boat and the people on the boat. We were able to see plenty of dolphins while riding around in the water. However, for somebody that gets motion sickness, I’d recommend taking something first to combat it. I guess I’m more a fan of watching the dolphins at the Gulfarium, however, there were plenty of people that were having a great time on the boat. I imagine on a sunny day the sunset would be spectacular, too.
Once you’ve had fun and worked up an appetite, check out these great places to eat at the Emerald Coast.
Have to been to Florida’s Emerald Coast? What was your favorite activity?
Want to check out these activities? Feel free to contact them for pricing and other information:
1010 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
383 Harbor Blvd
Destin, FL 32541
10 Harbor Blvd
Destin, FL 32541
This article was made possible by the Okaloosa County CVB and the Emerald Coast (Destin and Ft Walton). Thank you to the businesses that allowed us to get to know know the Emerald Coast better. The trip was complimentary as part of press and all opinions above are mine alone.