Western Lake at Grayton Beach

Before we moved to Grayton Beach, I had only visited the area for food and shopping.  I was completely unfamiliar with the beach and my now favorite thing about Grayton, Western Lake.  I had also never heard of a coastal dune lake.  Coastal dune lakes are beautiful and rare ecosystems.  They are only found in a few places in the world, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Oregon, and Florida.  There are 15 coastal dune lakes in the 26 miles of Walton County that stretch along the Gulf of Mexico.  Here is a map from the 30A website:Coastal-Dune-Lakes-of-South-Walton-and-30A

The lake waters are fed by streams, groundwater seepage, rain, and storm surges.  The connection to the Gulf is called an outfall and has a natural flood protection system that is beautiful and amazing to watch as it periodically opens and closes.  Following heavy rains, like we’ve had lately, the outfall opens itself up and the lake drains into the Gulf.  The salty sea water of the Gulf and the semi fresh water of the lake merge to form an ecosystem that is home to both fresh and saltwater species.

The lake water is typically brown in color, like tea or coffee, due to the tannins released from the trees and other decaying vegetation that are in the water.  The water isn’t dirty or dangerous.  I’ve had multiple visitors ask me if the water is safe for my boys to be playing in! We’ve been playing in it for almost a year now and have been as healthy as ever!lake

I’ve had a few people from home text or message me about the lake and the beach here at Grayton.  We think we have the best of both worlds-the calm and shallow water of the lake and the beautiful waves of the Gulf! It’s really the absolute best place for children and young families!

Western Lake to the left and the Gulf in the distance
More of the lake with a thin strip of sand separating it from the Gulf
We often take the boys out to the boardwalk late in the afternoon to run and play
They like to talk to the tourists and visitors who walk by
Looking back to where the lake curves around towards 30A and Watercolor

Another fun thing about Grayton is that locals are able to apply for a beach permit every spring.  It works like a lottery system and the permit is active for one year.  It’s so awesome that they can drive right up to the water’s edge! No dragging coolers or beach chairs or whiney children….sigh….Fishing charters drive right out to the Gulf, back up, and drop the boats.  I love to walk early in the morning and see them dotted across the horizon as they leave for the day.

I decided to write a blog post about this a few days ago, so in between rain storms on Wednesday, I grabbed my camera and the little boys and I walked over to the boardwalk that curves around the lake into the sand at the Gulf.  I took several pictures and I’m so excited that I took them yesterday because sometime over night or early this morning, the water pushed through the sand barrier between the Gulf and the Western Lake and the outfall opened up and the lake drained! Those of you who follow me on Instagram have seen where I’ve shared pictures of the pier covered in water over the last week.  It’s not covered anymore! Over the next few days, the tannin tinted lake water will continue to flush out into the Gulf and the lake will become crystal clear as the salty sea water washes back in. Sometimes the outline of the lake changes almost daily. There may be a sandbar in the middle one day that’s completely dry and the next day it will be covered with water.

The sandbar is once again visible
Henry and Massey love to walk through the lake to the other side
Looking out towards the western side of the lake from the boardwalk
You can see the opening of the outfall in the distance

DSC_0269If you’re interested in learning more about coastal dune lakes, you can find several videos to watch from this link:

Or read more here:






Adventures in Seaside

Today is the first day of summer break. What 14 year old boy doesn’t want to be awakened at 8:00 and told, “Come on, Wimma. We are walking (2 miles) to Seaside and you are going with us!?!” I know one that doesn’t…but he went anyway! The idyllic town of Seaside has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve loved it ever since I first set foot there back in high school.  No matter how many times I visit, I never tire of the picturesque houses, gorgeous streets, unique shops, and delicious restaurants.  The temperature this morning was in the mid-70’s, so rare for a late May morning in Florida.  I loaded the little ones in the stroller, twisted the arm of the biggest boy, and we were on our way! The new pedestrian/bike bridges over Western Lake are so nice! The boys especially like pressing the button to warn cars that we are crossing 30A!


Our first stop in Seaside was Natchez Park. I didn’t know this tranquil spot existed until right after we moved down here in August.  It’s tucked into a back corner and is so quiet and there is also SHADE!!!  My favorite part of the park is the giant sundial.  IMG_9063


The boys love climbing on the ziggurat and playing King of the Triangle!IMG_9062IMG_9064

We often bring dump trucks and sand toys and they will sit and play for as long as I let them. We decided to load back up into the stroller and head over to the grassy area in front of the Chapel.


After running and playing and moving lots of gravel, we walked on over to the playground/park. We held Henry’s birthday party there back in December.  There is a play structure, a basketball court, a tether ball area, swings, and monkey bars.  It’s also SHADED!!!  It’s adjacent to two of the pools, croquet lawn, volleyball area, and tennis courts.  There’s pretty much something for everyone there!


After playing for a while, we decided to stop by the Raw and Juicy Airstream for a Valencia Orange and a Pina Verde.  Their juices are freshly squeezed and will always hit the spot when you need to be replenished.  The Health Insurance shot has helped prevent a full blown sinus infection on more than one occasion for me! It’s highly recommended!


Massey enjoyed his juice from the comfort of his stroller because he fell and skinned his knee on the way to the Seaside Square. Poor fellow falls and skins his knee every few days.  Those little legs want to run a little faster than that little body can go.

Stay tuned for more Proctor Family Outings now that school is out and we aren’t tied down by nap times and school pick up times!