Where time seems to stand still.

There’s a gorgeous sameness about the beaches of the Emerald Coast—just one mile after another of soft quartz sand running alongside an aquamarine shoreline that appears aglow, lit from within. The communities that populate this realm, however, are a different matter altogether. All they have in common is their distinctiveness from one another.

mother and child walking on a dune lake in Dune Allen Beach

Time seems to stand still in this community at the far western end of 30A. Officially established in 1946, Dune Allen was one of the first communities in the area and was widely known as the “local’s beach.” Neighboring Blue Mountain Beach on 30A’s Western-most end is Dune Allen, a place where lakes and beaches unite. The three-and-a-half-mile stretch delivers scenic views of the Gulf and is home to three of the area’s coastal dune lakes. Coastal dune lakes are a geographical rarity—an ecosystem found in only a handful of places worldwide, including South Walton. Dune Allen alone is home to 3 of the area’s coastal dune lakes: Lake Allen, Stallworth Lake, and Oyster Lake. These waterways have the highest occurrences of rare wildlife species in the state. These rare brackish bodies of water have been around for nearly 10,000 years and are home to both saltwater and freshwater fish, including flounder, redfish, catfish, and trout. Both nature lovers and photographers alike will appreciate the wildlife and spectacular sunsets.

In addition, Topsail Hill State Preserve has access to wonderful trails and dunes for a day of hiking and sightseeing. With its 15 miles of hiking trails, it’s easy to spend a whole day exploring the area. Many of the boutiques, restaurants, and artisan markets offer a welcoming, come-as-you-are atmosphere, including Stinky’s Fish Camp (don’t be fooled by its name), Vue on 30A, Shunk Gulley, and Kith + Kin Coffee. If you’re a runner, Gulf Place marks the start and finish of the 30A Half Marathon + 5K. There’s plenty of entertainment to offer the kids and adults, day or night.

It’s perhaps the last beach on 30A that has remained mostly untouched since its beginnings in the 1940s. Visitors will notice the casual, laidback feel with a hidden gem of some of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the entire Emerald Coast. Dune Allen is also just a short car ride to Miramar Beach and Destin.