When visiting a seaside town, you can’t help but encounter nature and wildlife. From slipping into a wetsuit and strapping on a tank to dive deep or hiking area trails, you are bound to catch a glimpse of the beauty and grace to be found in the Rosemary Beach community and the surrounding area. Check out some of these Rosemary Beach activities and attractions and connect to nature during your stay.
The best way to see some land-based nature and wildlife near the Rosemary Beach community is to go hiking. There are plenty of trails and state parks to wander and discover. Camp Helen State Park and Deer Lake State Park are the closest. Catch a glimpse of bald eagles, osprey, and Cooper’s hawks and many other migratory birds, as well as black bear, coyotes, and deer just to name a few.
Normally if there’s a gator on the beach you want to walk briskly in the other direction before being noticed. At Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s in Destin, there’s plenty of space between you and the more than 100 gators. On the property of Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill, the park is open from 11 a.m. to just before closing (hours vary by season). There is no admission, and you can walk around, ask questions, and even attend an alligator show free of charge. You can feed the gators, get your picture taken holding a live gator, or browse through the Crocodilia Discovery Zone – an area with many exhibits and displays from a life-size (not live) alligator to a 3D underwater scene of an alligator habitat. Guests seven-years-old and older can also book a private, behind the scenes experience with a professional gator handler.
Coffeen Nature Preserve
This 210-acre parcel of protected land is full flora and fauna, as well as history, but you’ll need a reservation before heading out on this nature adventure. Tour four hiking trails as well as a World War II era missile launch facility. On the trail you’ll learn about the area’s nature and wildlife. On the facility tour you’ll learn about the JB-2 launches and explore bunkers that are still intact over 60 years later.
Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge
Help Florida wildlife get back on its feet – or wings, or flippers – with a visit to the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit that works to educate the public, as well as rescue, rehabilitate, and conserve the state’s wildlife and natural resources. They work with organizations like local law enforcement, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect, treat, and release native species and rescue thousands of animals every year. They also take the lead for the Federal Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which assists with all marine-mammal strandings from mid-Walton County to the Alabama state line. The education and outreach center is open to the public Wednesday-Saturday from 9-3 and Sunday from 11-3.
Bear Creek Feline Center
Another 501(c)3 non-profit, the Bear Creek Feline Center, gives new permanent homes to displaced bobcats, Florida panthers, African servals, jaguarundi, and Siberian lynx. The center is operated 24/7 by licensed staff members, but if you’d like to book a guided tour, you will need to call or email to make arrangements beforehand. The center is currently home to 21 big cats of five different species. The center also became licensed by the State of Florida Department of Education as a vocational rehabilitation/on the job training center in 2010.
Snorkel and SCUBA Tours
Tap one of the many companies in the Rosemary Beach community and the surrounding area for tours that extend your nature and wildlife viewing below the waters. Bottlenose dolphins, sharks, manatees, rays, sea turtles and much more can be seen. Ask about daytime or sunset tours.
Whales who spent the rest of the year further north migrate south for the winter and can be spotted during the winter months (typically December through March). Many companies in the area offer whale watching tours, lending you the opportunity to see familiar species like humpback, orca/killer whale, sperm, and blue whale, as well as lesser-known species like the North Atlantic right whale, Bryde’s, and short-filled pilot whale.
Florida is one of just two states in the U.S. and five total places around the world where coastal dune lakes are a natural geographic feature. These typically shallow and irregularly shaped permanent bodies of water are brackish and dark colored due to the mix of both salt and freshwater sources. Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle board for some fun on the water. Purchase a combo freshwater/saltwater fishing license, or just relax on the shoreline.
Nature and Wildlife Journey to Florida
The perfect end to a day experiencing the many natural Rosemary Beach activities happens in one of our luxurious vacation rentals. Enjoy the privacy of one of our luxury condos. Choose from a cozy studio for your solo trip, all the way up to a sprawling 7-bedroom for a large group or the entire family.