We had THE BEST time!! I had never been to Okaloosa Island (in the Ft. Walton/Destin area), but now I hope to return there many times.
Our condo was lovely. We had 2 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths, a big open floor plan, and a huge balcony with a view of the ocean and the pool area. Joe and I had a bedroom and full bath to ourselves, as did my parents. The girls slept in a little alcove area with bunk beds, and my brother slept on a mattress in the living room.
There were several pools, with two big areas for kids. One area had a slide, which was definitely Summer's favorite. I bet she went down that thing 80 times while we were there. Since we went in May before all the kids are out of school, there was never too many people out there, and they got to play and have so much fun without a huge crowd. They also both wore floaties/swimmies (what the heck IS the correct term for those?) for the first time. Camryn totally mastered swimming with floaties on right away. She loved it and smiled and laughed as she swam around the pool with us. Summer did good too and could swim and float with them on, but refused to swim where she couldn't touch. Can you tell which one is the cautious child?
The beach was right in front of our condo. We were out there for hours almost every day, swimming, wave boarding, playing in the sand, and searching for shells. Every one of us, including Summer and Camryn now, LOVE the beach, so we were in heaven. The first 3 or 4 days we were there, the sand and water were totally clear of any sign of shells. We assumed that it was just not a good area to find them. Even one of those mornings when my dad walked the beach at 6AM, he didn't see any.
One morning we woke up and my dad had already been out walking the beach. He had shells. The lifeguard had told him that they were starting to wash up now because the water had calmed down. We all got ready and headed down. There were shells everywhere! I got in the water a few feet deep and found some amazing ones. Joe and my brother did as well. We had a great collection already, and then the next day Joe and I and my dad went out really early with nets and got even more. We got really lucky. I have been to different beaches and never found more than a few shells.
One morning we decided to rent ocean kayaks from the lifeguard stand. You could take them out for an hour, and we were told that you could kayak out to the sand bar and get out and find huge shells and sand dollars. Joe and I went in one kayak, and my mom and brother went in the other. I have kayaked many times in a gentle creek, but never in the ocean. It's pretty different to look around and see no end in sight! It was fun for the first few minutes, but then I started to feel really sick. It didn't help that once we got out a bit, we could no longer see the light green area where the sand bar was. We basically went around in circles for 30 minutes until I had to get Joe to take me back to shore. I felt so horrible. My dad got in with him and used up the rest of my time.
Another day we went to the Gulfarium, which was right next to our condo. They have dolphin and sea lion shows, along with other small ocean animal exhibits. It was great! With exception of the many large groups of kids on field trips.
We had a few cloudy days when we first got there along with a couple rain showers, but all in all the weather was fantastic. No oil in sight, which was a huge concern leading up to our trip. My hair hated the humidity, but that is my only complaint!
The drive there and back wasn't too horrible. It took us about 11 hours. We did find out that Summer gets carsick. She threw up twice on the way down (Camryn threw up once), and then on the way home she threw up about 8 times. Luckily by then she had mastered the puking in a bag technique, so we only had to clean up one mess. Let's just say, I'm hoping she grows out of that.
We all had an amazing time and no one was ready to leave. Normally on a vacation by the last day I am ready to go back home, but not this time. I could have stayed another month for sure. Joe wants to move down there!
This is definitely long enough and I know all you really want to see is PICTURES, so I will put them up next!