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Sweet job!

may 2010

Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe really loves work He helps you love it, too, on page 88


m ay 2 0 1 0

Spirit’s Northwest Florida Beaches Adventure Quiz 1) As a kid, what was your favorite after-school activity?

6) Finish the sentence: “I am most skilled in…”

A) Building popsicle-stick houses B) Playing Battleship C) Digging in the sandbox D) Skateboarding

A) Pedaling B) Diving C) Shoveling D) Balancing

2) Pick the best movie:

7) What’s your favorite cocktail?

A) The Truman Show B) Titanic C) Oyster Farmer D) Blue Crush

3) Which job sounds like the mos A) Architect B) Char ter captain C) Fisherman D) Swimming instructor

A) Yellow Bicycle B) Scuba Steve C) Prairie Oyster D) White Sands

t fun?

4) Which term do you know the mos A) New urbanism B) Landing craft air cushion C) Culling board D) Yolo

5) Which accessory would you pack A) Water bottle B) Underwater flashlight C) Pearl necklace D) Waterproof camera

8) Which phrase might you use mos A) “It’s like riding a bike.” B) “You’re in deep water.” C) “Aw, shucks.” D) “Life’s a beach.”

t about?

9) Pick your favorite song by title


10) Your first choice for footwear


A) “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” B) “Under Pressure” C) “Fishin’ in the Dark” D) “Surfin’ USA”



A) Tennis shoes B) Flippers C) Rubber boots D) Nothing

If you answered mostly A, your adventure begins on page 72. If you answered mostly B, your adventure begins on page 74. If you answered mostly C, your adventure begins on page 76. If you answered mostly D, your adventure begins on page 78.


Northwest Florida Beaches The emerald green water and white dunes will reel you in, but these SPF-necessary adventures will keep you anchored all summer long. B y L a u r e n pa r a j o n 70 | Spirit

photography by tk


photography by photography byStephen StephenAlvarez/get Alvarez/get t y timages y images


Spirit | 71

A d v e n t u r e I n N o r t h w e s t F l o r i d a B e a c h e s

Take a dip in Alys Beach’s Caliza Pool. The main pool is one of the largest and most beautiful saltwater pools in the world. Rent a cottage through Seaside Cottage Rental Agency for $200$2,000/night, including homes with overlooking towers and gulf-front locations. Rummage through the best of New Urbanisminfluenced artwork at World Six Gallery in Rosemary Beach.

72 | Spirit

I F YO U A N S W E R E D M O S T LY A , YO U A R E A :

Scenic Cycler When Robert Davis founded Seaside in 1981 near Destin, he created a town and a movement. New Urbanism seeks to bring shops and offices back into residential neighborhoods, minimizing the need for cars. Check out a string of these innovative towns along Scenic Highway 30A from the most appropriate perch: a bicycle seat. Rent a beach cruiser at Seaside Bike Shop ($30/day, and explore the New England-influenced town that played a starring role in The Truman Show. Pedaling along the brickpaved streets and sand paths, you’ll pass one- to three-story cottages ranging from sea foam green to bright canary yellow. “The wraparound porches, overlooking towers, and white picket fences make

Seaside the Martha’s Vineyard of the South,” says Braulio Casas of Casas Architecture in Seaside. Cruise about eight miles east down 30A—a 19-mile two-lane road that hugs the coastline between Destin and Panama City—and you’ll feel like you’re in Greece, only the white pyramid sign reads “Alys Beach.” The stark town stands out with its Caribbean- and Mediterranean-inspired all-white stucco cottages. A few pedal pushes east take you to the last stop, Spanish-styled Rosemary Beach. “You can tell it was directly influenced by St. Augustine, Florida,” Casas says. “What’s Augustinian about it are the overhanging porches and the way walls define the courtyards and the streets.”

photography courtesy of jon ervin (biking), by John Muggenborg/muggphoto (bike lock)

Design Stars

A d v e n t u r e I n N o r t h w e s t F l o r i d a B e a c h e s

Catch an aerial view of Panama City Beach on a Panhandle Helicopter tour ($35/person, twoperson minimum). Jump off a replica of a 17th-century sailing ship at the Shipwreck Island Waterpark. Surface for a meal at the Treasure Ship, a 200-foot-long replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind.

74 | Spirit

I F YO U A N S W E R E D M O S T LY B , YO U A R E A :

Scuba Scout White sand beaches, blue water, and luxury hotels get much of the attention at Panama City, but what’s lurking beneath the surface deserves a closer look: a ship graveyard called the “Wreck Capital of the South.” Certified scuba divers can book a four-hour wreck excursion ($80/ person, not including equipment) through Panama City Beach Dive Charters to get a face mask full of the spectacle. Four sunken ships stand out. Seventyfive feet under the surface of the Gulf lies Black Bart, a 185-foot oil field supply ship sitting upright and fully intact. The ship was named for Capt. Charles A. Bartholomew, the Navy’s former Supervisor of Salvage. At 72 feet lies an upside-down decommissioned Navy Landing Craft Air

Cushion. And 100 feet down, two upright twin tugboats—meant to lie side by side—lie on top of each other after storms tossed them around. Although some of the ships sank the old-fashioned way—by accident—many of them were dumped in the Gulf on purpose to create artificial reefs. Wildlife love the place as much as scuba divers. “By sinking these retired vessels, the local reef program has created new habitat that otherwise would have been barren sand,” says Pat Green, dive boat captain at Panama City. “Now sponges attach to the steel, providing homes and food for smaller fish. Bigger fish arrive to eat the small fish. Before you know it, it’s a huge habitat.”

photography by Stephen Frink/Jupiterimages, john muggenbor/muggphoto (coral)

Ship Stops

Apalach Pearls Head to Café Momi downtown and order Fried Heaven, a plate of fried Apalachicola oysters, shrimp, and softshell crab. Buy photos of oysters and tongers in action at Richard Bickel Photography, a studio in Apalachicola. Rest your weary muscles in the Jacuzzi suite at Coombs House Inn, an Apalachicola bed and breakfast built in 1905.

76 | Spirit

I F YO U A N S W E R E D M O S T LY C , YO U A R E A N :

Oyster Hunter Monday through Friday, Kendall Schoelles lowers 12-foot wooden tongs from the side of his rickety six-person wooden boat to the bottom of an oyster bar in Apalachicola Bay, like a chef tossing the world’s biggest seafood salad. The main ingredient: oysters. The iron- and calcium-rich mollusks are the claim to fame in Apalachicola, located about 60 miles southeast of Panama City. You can fish for your own on a half-day excursion with Black Pearl Charters ($350). Even first-timers won’t find the job too hard, according to Schoelles, an oysterman for 20-plus years, born and raised in “Apalach.” You only need a strong grip and a little hand-eye coordination. “Just open the tongs as wide as you can, like

scissors,” he says. “When you hit the bottom, dig down and push the tongs closed. Then pull it out of the water and dump your oysters onto the culling board.” Then Schoelles takes over. He chips away at the mollusk clumps, measures the shells, and throws back the ones that fall short of the 3-inch minimum. He’s looking for “cup oysters,” the bigger of the two common shapes. (The skinnier type goes by the name “scissor blade oysters.”) Discarded oysters provide a breeding ground for future harvests. When you’re on the boat, you can shuck an oyster with a pocketknife and taste what the hype is all about—raw. At least you won’t have to pack a lunch.

photography courtesy of the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce (top), by john muggenborg/muggphoto (bot tom)

A d v e n t u r e I n N o r t h w e s t F l o r i d a B e a c h e s

A d v e n t u r e I n N o r t h w e s t F l o r i d a B e a c h e s

Refuel after a paddleboard session with fried crabcakes at the Red Bar, a Grayton Beach local favorite. Swap your paddleboard for a kiteboard with a one-hour lesson ($60/ person) in Panama City Beach. Board a Jet Ski to get another look at marine wildlife on a Dolphin Excursion ($100/person) in Destin.

78 | Spirit

I F YO U A N S W E R E D M O S T LY D , YO U A R E A :

Paddle Pusher The best way to see the area’s 26 miles of Blue Wave-certified beaches—meaning they meet strict criteria for water quality, habitat conservation, and education—is atop a stand-up paddle board. Learn how to ride one with a one-hour private lesson ($60) or grab your friends for a group lesson ($35/hour) through YOLO Board. Stand-up paddleboarding combines surfing (you’re on a board) and kayaking (you have a paddle). “It’s the water sport for people who didn’t think they could do water sports,” says Jeff Archer, co-owner of YOLO Board and boarding instructor. Meaning you don’t need bulging biceps to row from the seated position or buns of steel to ride a wave. Just stand up, keep your balance on your 12-foot polyethyl-

ene beginner YOLO board, paddle left, then right, and enjoy the view. Getting to that point requires some training. The lesson begins by practicing balancing and paddling on dry land under the watchful eye of an instructor. Then you’ll shove off into Choctawhatchee Bay off Sandestin Resort in Destin. You’ll paddle along the coast and explore Jolee Island, a 5-acre nature park studded with pines and magnolias. Back on your board, take in the view. Watch grouper and speckled trout swim alongside you, while herons and egrets flap by at eye-level. “One time I saw dolphins teaching their babies how to feed,” Archer says. “That’s what did it for me.”

photography by Jake Meyer (yolo boarder), john muggenborg/muggphoto (sunscreen)

Board Members

A d v e n t u r e I n N o r t h w e s t F l o r i d a B e a c h e s

10 8





331 71



Choctawhatchee Bay


YOLO Board Seaside



Alys Beach Rosemary Beach

Santa Sandestin Rosa Seascape Grayton Seagrove Seacrest Miramar Allen Dune Watercolor Inlet Beach Blue Panama City WaterSound Mountain Beach


l Airpo Northwest Florida Beaches Internationa 231

65 Panama City

Panama City Dive Charters

22 Apalachicola State Forest



Mexico Beach


Gulf of Mexico

Black Pearl Charters

10 miles

Coastal Cuts 1) Power Down. Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport was constructed to achieve net environmental benefits like the preservation of 9,600 acres of environmentally pristine lands. 2) Country Time. Tim McGraw mentions Apalachicola in the song “Southern Voice.” 3) Precious Water. Coastal sand dune lakes like those in South Walton County exist in only four places in the world. 4) Screen Scene. Seaside founders Robert and Darryl Davis make a cameo in The Truman Show.

80 | Spirit

Apalachicola Bay

Lay of the Land GET THERE Fly In Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport ( is about 30 miles from Seaside, 80 miles from Apalachicola, 50 miles from Destin, and about 20 miles from downtown Panama City. Get Around Destin has a citywide transportation system, and Panama City Beach also has a trolley system for the town. There is no regional mass-transit system. Get Away You’ll need to rent a car to do the adventures. Pick one up at the airport.

D o T here May 29-31. Hear live music from Coconut Radio and other bands at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort’s Memorial Day Weekend Celebration in the Village of Baytowne Wharf. Don’t miss the fireworks on Sunday night. June 3-7. Trick-or-treat “pirate-style” during Fort Walton Beach’s Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival. June 12. Throw a mullet—a fish indigenous to the area—at the Mullet Toss at the Blue Parrot in St. George Island. The record toss is 156 feet. 850-927-2987

illustration by steve stankiewicz. photography by john muggenborg/muggphoto (magnet) .



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