Lying within South Walton county, along its white sandy beaches, is a true treasure of 15 very rare Coastal Dune Lakes. These rare lakes are reportedly found only along the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar, and in the United States along the coasts of Oregon, South Carolina, and right here in Northwest Florida.
Our true Coastal Dune Lakes in South Walton county create an opening (outfall) to the Gulf of Mexico during periods of high water levels, causing fresh and salt water to mix. Depending on tides and winds, saltwater from the Gulf may enter the lake, along with saltwater plants and animals. The drainage of the lake and potential exchange with the Gulf continues until equilibrium is reached and the opening closes. Temporary estuaries and nursery grounds are formed when the fresh and saltwater mix. Each lake is different due to variable salt content, dependent upon frequency of outfall openings. Some visitors wonder whether the brown water in the outfalls is sanitary. The water in the lakes is dark brown or tea-colored with natural tannins from leaves and pine needles falling into the lake, and is not harmful. The outfalls and lakes are favorite recreational areas for visitors and residents.
Western Lake is my favorite Coastal Dune Lake
Western Lake stretches between Grayton Beach and Watercolor. At approximately 200 acres, it’s one of the larger coastal dune lakes with extensive marsh and connected wetlands. Small motorboats are allowed on the town side and you might see an occasional water skiier. Grayton Beach State Park surrounds Western Lake with a boat ramp offering launch point, canoe and kayak rentals, and a drop in point for your paddle board. In the town of Grayton Beach, the lake can be accessed at the beach, as well as at the public boat ramp just down from where the Red Bar once was on Hotz Avenue.
This lake is incredible for paddle boarding. Depending on the winds, with calm waters you can explore the marshy areas and see wildlife unique to our area. Being on a paddle board, kayak, or canoe gives you the most unique access out to the beach and Gulf of Mexico.
For more information and photos on each lake, check out this link… Coastal Dune Lake Guide