Being an early bird has its advantages, especially if you wake up to an ocean view. Sunrises on the beach are amazing and wildlife abounds.
In the summer, the sun comes up pretty early here in Destin. That means before 6:00. For most, vacation is synonymous with rest and relaxation which equals sleeping late.
However, rest and relaxation translates differently for me.
Last week’s adventures reminded me why I love being an early bird. Mornings at Sandnsol are pure bliss. When I’m here, pre-dawn light nudges me awake, and I hop out of bed expectantly. After hot chocolate on the balcony Wednesday morning, I decide to head out to the jetty. Dolphins, rays, pelicans, or turtles, neat sea shells or sand dollars, you never know what awaits. Some of the best sights are things you don’t see; traffic, crowds, trash etc.
Parking at O’Steen Beach is a breeze when you arrive at 6:15 a.m. Only one other car is on the street. After a short walk, I reach the dunes and pass the deserted lifeguard stand.
Signs of Life
As the sun peaks above the sea oats, Sandhill cranes search the empty beach for their breakfast. It’s so peaceful this time of day, it’s hard to believe in a few short hours there will be hundreds of people here.
Further down the jetty, fishermen cast their lines. High on a perch, pelicans survey East Pass. Dozens of fishing boats head through the East Pass and out to open water.
Shortly after I reach the shores of the gulf, I see a family snorkeling in the rocks at the base of the jetty. After hunting for shells at the waters edge, I continue east along the shore.
A couple hours into the morning, something catches my eye. Just a few feet from shore, I see it gliding through the water. After videoing it for a few minutes, I decide I need to head back. Just then a wave carries the large majestic ray onto shore. It is struggling in the sand just feet in front of me. I grab my Nikon to get a few shots.
Crazy thoughts run through my mind. What if it can’t get back out on its own? I have to help, but what can I do? I doubt I can even get my arms around it, and how will I avoid a sting? No one is around, so it’s up to me!
Luckily, another wave washed up high enough for this amazing Spotted Eagle Ray to works its way back out into the water.
My walk back to the car is far less eventful, but still beautiful. Sandpipers and seagulls play and more cranes are strut their stuff. A father helps bait the hook for his son, and snorkel tours file into the east pass.
Excited to share my early bird adventures, I burst through the door at Sandnsol. My enthusiasm dies quickly when I realize everyone else is still fast asleep! Back to the balcony to listen to crashing waves until the sleepy-heads emerge.
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