A couple weeks ago, we introduced you to Amanda Abbott, the surfing realtor. Her adventurous lifestyle in Northwest Florida has led her to find hidden local gems tucked away in places you’d least expect. And since we Southerners treat our guests with the utmost hospitality, we’re here to give you Amanda’s top local adventure must-do’s so you can enjoy nature, pump up the adrenaline and feel like a local. Our home is your home.
Amanda refers to herself as a ‘water baby’, growing up along the Gulf of Mexico and being immersed in the beach lifestyle from the start. She’s always ready to grab her favorite board and head to the beach when the surf looks favorable and explains how it can require patience. “There are surf apps that show if a swell is coming and estimates its size so I usually check that daily. I use Magic Seaweed, which features areas all over the world. I have Destin, Panama City Beach, Nicaragua and Hawaii all as my favorites,” says Amanda.
Being thorough is key, so after checking her favorite apps, Amanda jumps on her bike to check the surf for herself.
“Early morning is usually best before the wind chops it up,” she states. “When we get waves here, the surf community is definitely fired up and drops everything on the agenda for the day to get in the water. That’s what I love about surfing here – the stoke and camaraderie in the water.”
The Natural Springs
We got to travel with Amanda to one of her favorite springs, Cypress Springs, located just a quick drive north in Chipley, Florida. “My father bought some land on Holmes Creek a few years back. Holmes Creek is how you access the springs. I was impressed with how beautiful and quiet it was over there, and started exploring,” says Amanda.
Cypress Springs is one of the most well-known springs in the area and is easy to access from the public boat launch, being just a 20 minute paddle upstream.
Once there, you can relax in the sun on the center of the spring, take shelter in some shade under trees rooted in water, jump from the rope swing or free dive to underground caves. “I have been to many springs around here, and this is still one of my favorites. Best to go during the week as there are less crowds,” says Amanda.
When you’re not on the water, take time to enjoy the land. Northwest Florida is home to many dirt bike parks, so you can explore the beauty of our landscape. “I learned to dirt bike in Hawaii when I lived there. I had a crew of friends that would go every Saturday. I wanted to continue the fun here so I bought the same bike I was used to in Hawaii: a Honda CRF 150,” says Amanda.
One of her favorite spots is just north of Walton County at Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park, one of the largest off road parks in Northwest Florida. It covers over 600 acres of land, most of it beautiful pinewoods, and offers overnight camping as well.
If you can’t make it up the park to put the peddle to the medal, there’s other ways to get your adrenaline kick. “If you have a street legal bike and license, you can go all over the Eglin Reservation,” Amanda clues us in.
No matter how you explore along the Gulf of Mexico, one thing is for sure – do it like a local and stay near the adventure.