The attention to the preservation of the environment was impressive. The sand dunes are so protected that some are not allowed to be transversed. Water safety is a major concern and flags are flown at public beaches to alert swimmers to the conditions. Blue: optimal for swimmer safety, yellow and red indicates undertow and/or riptides (yellow - be cautious, red - don't go in the water at all). We were "wonderstruck" by the sand on the beaches. It is of pure white, fine grains of glistening particles comprised of Appalachian Quartz. As legend has it once packaged and sold as sugar by the natives to unsuspecting visitors, this extraordinary sand appears to the eye as glistening snow and when you walk it even crunches like snow.
During our time at the Emerald Coast we had a unique surprise in store. "Red Tide", a trick of nature that happens under special conditions such as unseasonable warm weather and strong winds announcing an upcoming storm. Spores in the water bloom in the warmth and are spread into the air by the winds coming from the East causing the air to become thick with their effects as they permeate the strong breezes. This causes tourist and locals alike to feel a slight smothering with each breath and some coughing. Nothing to be concerned about, they say, and will cease to be a problem after the storm clears the atmosphere. The Gulf itself showed signs of the action that was taking place with red/orange spots in the normally crystal clear water as the unusual rough waves hit the shore. Not knowing about the "Red Tide" made it difficult for us to comprehend what was happening, but after it was thoroughly explained by "people-in the-know"; we came to view it as a most phenomenal and marvelous, natural event. One we would not have wanted to miss.