South Walton has 15 rare, unique coastal dune lakes along its 26 miles of coastline. Only a few places in the world have them.
They are (moving from west to east): Fuller Lake, Morris Lake, Campbell Lake, Stallworth Lake, Allen Lake, Oyster Lake, Draper Lake, Big Redfish Lake, Little Redfish Lake, Alligator Lake, Western Lake, Eastern Lake, Deer Lake, Camp Creek Lake and Lake Powell, adjacent to Camp Helen and Inlet Beach.
South Walton’s coastal dune lakes are said to be as much as 10,000 years old and were formed by winds that redistributed sand and created the shallow basins (with most lakes averaging only about 5 feet deep).
These lakes are very unique in that the mostly fresh water and sit within just a few feet of the Gulf’s salt water, separated only by a natural berm of sand. Following a heavy rain or other inflow, the sand berms are suddenly breached, causing a flood of fresh water to pour openly into the Gulf. This event is known as an “outfall,” and it’s a time when salty seawater can also flood back into the dune lake, until the levels stabilize. The result is a rare brackish ecosystem that’s home to both fresh and salt water species.
Almost all lakes and rivers contain some form of tannic water. But here on 30A, the crystal clear green waters of the Gulf make the contrast with the tea-colored lakes all the more stark. It is common for people to make the mistake of thinking the water is “dirty” and maybe even harmful, especially when the lakes break open into the Gulf. Tannic water isn’t harmful.
Brackish water is a mixture of saltwater and freshwater, and while most of the coastal dune lakes are brackish, that’s not what gives the lakes their color,