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The Best Florida Beaches You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Fodor's Logo By Kayla Becker of Fodor's | Slide 1 of 9: The Best Florida Beaches You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

The Best Florida Beaches You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

The secret is out—South Walton’s 16 beach towns are Florida’s next hot spot.

Not far from Panama City Beach, and yet a world away, is Florida’s big secret. The one some locals don’t want you to discover. This cherished spot is South Walton, a coastal county with the whitest powdery sand and sparkliest emerald waters in all of Florida—and along it, 16 beach communities with their own personalities. Collectively, they offer what no other Florida beach does: a unique mix of Southern charm, unspoiled nature, and small, carefully crafted communities where you can walk or bike everywhere. Better known to locals as 30A for the Scenic Highway connecting most of the towns, the area has been a regional favorite since the towns were planned about 30 years ago. Now, direct flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, and New York between the two regional airports Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), have made it easier to access—and have opened the Gulf to a whole new world of travelers. Thankfully, South Walton should stay small, due to rules that prohibit buildings over four stories, or building on the 40 percent of land designated as nature reserves here. Big-name beaches on either side of South Walton—Destin and Panama City Beach—also draw the rowdier crowds away. The only question is: which town fits your beach vibe? From the luxurious Alys Beach to the bohemian Grayton Beach, here’s a guide to South Walton’s 16 communities, whether you want to relax in one town or hop through a few.

© Visit South Walton Florida

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