Discovering Dune Allen Beach: South Walton's Hidden Gem - 30A

Discovering Dune Allen Beach: South Walton’s Hidden Gem

By: Mary Alayne B. Long | Posted Oct 17, 2023

Down on the far west end of Scenic Highway 30A you’ll find the quiet, tucked-away community of Dune Allen Beach. Often referred to as South Walton’s all-natural neighborhood this stretch of beach has been a favorite vacation spot for generations of families. The tranquil, easygoing atmosphere and the mix of Old Florida beach bungalows and thoughtfully curated new construction properties make it a prime spot for vacationers and locals alike. Once you visit Dune Allen Beach, you’ll be hooked in no time flat.

For starters, the public beach access points in this little neighborhood are numerous and welcoming. The Fort Panic Beach Access location at 5753 West County Highway 30A has some of the best parking in town. With a large parking lot, several street parking spots, and two dedicated handicap spots it provides easy access to the sandy white beach. It’s also wheelchair friendly all the way out onto the sand. This access point also provides showers and a bathhouse for your convenience.

The West Allen Loop Access located at 5605 West Highway 30A offers bicycle and low-speed vehicle (LSV/Golf Cart) parking only. Still, it’s a great uncrowded spot and is definitely worth the effort even if you choose to walk.

At 5173 West Highway 30A you’ll find the Lake Causeway Beach Access. There’s a nice-sized parking lot here but it’s gravel so depending on how folks park, some days it holds more cars than others. They do provide a bike rack here and once again, it’s an easy, worthwhile walk if you choose this spot for your beach day.

The well-known Ed Walline Beach Access is easy to find at 4447 West County Highway 30A and is wildly popular. They have a large parking lot here with dedicated handicapped parking along with a very nice pavilion filled with picnic tables. They also provide grills and a full-bath house. While there are stairs required to walk out onto the beach there is also a sandy path for emergency vehicles that can easily be used for wheelchair access if necessary.

Drive on over to 186 Gulfview Heights Street and you’ll find the Gulfview Heights Beach Access point. They have a small bath house, a large covered pavilion with picnic tables and grills along ample parking including one dedicated handicap-accessible spot. A nice plus for those choosing to use LSVs is the gravel parking area that’s specifically reserved for those vehicles.

Ed Walline Beach Access

Beach Highlands Beach Access is a bit more secluded—truly a hidden treasure— and you’ll find it at 23 Stallworth Boulevard. There are only a few on-street parking spots here (and it’s in a neighborhood so be sure you’re courteous to residents) and you usually have to be super lucky and arrive extra early to snag one. However, if you time things right, it’s a lovely spot you’ll definitely want to check out.

One of the newer access points is the Dune Allen Beach Access at 5999 County Highway 30A. There’s plenty of parking here, including handicap-accessible spots, and there’s a bath house for your convenience as well.

Want to enjoy the outdoors but need a break from the beach? Not to worry! Dune Allen Beach is home to five of the fifteen coastal dune lakes in South Walton County. Allen Lake, Campbell Lake, Morris Lake, Oyster Lake, and Stallworth Lake are all worth visiting while you’re here and they each provide unlimited opportunities for activities, exploration, and photography. Keep in mind—these lakes are natural habitats for a myriad of coastal creatures. That includes snakes and alligators so be sure to use caution and stay alert. Remember—you’re visiting their home and they aren’t always the most welcoming hosts.

The Timpoochee Trail is an eighteen-mile trek that makes its way from Dune Allen Beach all the way to Inlet Beach. It provides the perfect place for anyone who enjoys a lovely hike or bike ride to get up close and personal with nature.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is all the way down at 7525 W Co Hwy 30A and it’s well worth the drive. Named for its dunes which rise like a ship sails over the soft sand beaches, is repeatedly chosen as one of America’s best state parks and is open year-round from 8:00 am until sundown. With all they offer to visitors and locals alike, it’s easy to see why they are a long-time favorite for so many. There are twenty-two tent campsites, over a hundred and fifty RV sites, sixteen bungalows and sixteen cabins. Their fees are very reasonable (Only $8.00 a day for up to eight people in one vehicle and $2.00 for pedestrians and cyclists.) Clearly, this very popular park offers something for everyone! They have over sixteen hundred acres to explore with three miles of sandy Gulffront beach. And their old-growth pine forests, wetlands, and sandy scrubland offer countless explorations.

The private Santa Rosa Beach Golf & Beach Club, located at 4801 W County Hwy 30A, is a members-only environment and boasts an immaculate golf course featuring eighteen unique and challenging holes. A par 72 course that takes golfers throughout natural areas and several elevation changes; it’s perfectly situated for cart or walking play. A recently completed multimillion-dollar renovation was added in The Loop, a short six-hole course situated on the driving range.

When you get ready for a bite to eat or to fill your shopping bags with treats you may be surprised to find this small stretch of beach provides a large variety of options.

On the corner of Scenic Highway 30A and County Road 393, you’ll find Gulf Place. This colorful, vibrant village offers many excellent choices for shopping and eating alike. Start your morning with a hot cup of coffee and a breakfast biscuit or wrap at Sunrise Coffee Company. Later in the day try one of my favorites—the nachos at The Perfect Pig. Not a fan of nachos? Never fear,—their menus are varied and have something tasty for everyone to enjoy. Pizza By The Sea is also a local family favorite and you don’t want to miss their Spaghetti and Meatball Pizza—trust me. It’s consistently a crowd-pleaser! Shelby’s Beach Bar & Grill is newer to the scene and offers relaxed casual dining with many entrees available for lunch and dinner each day.  Ready for a special treat? Walk back to Cava and Cakes for a little bubbly and a bite of something to soothe your sweet tooth. You’ll also find an assorted collection of independently owned shops and galleries here and they make it easy to shop for everything from gifts and high-end fashion to paddle boards and beach gear. And of course, this area is home to the 30A Artists At Gulf Place Artist Colony. For those of you who find yourselves with a furry friend not feeling their best, don’t worry.  30A Vet and their helpful, caring staff will have your four-legged family member on the mend in no time at all.

Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar. Credit: Facebook.

On the same corner and just across the street from Gulf Place you’ll find great food and great Gulf views at Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar. Offering a casual atmosphere and open-air breezes it’s the perfect spot to try their classic coastal cuisine. You’ll often find a wide variety of live music here as well as in their adjacent Gully Amphitheater. Next time you visit make sure you check out their specialty drink menu—and order a watermelon margarita for me!

Goatfeathers Restaurant can be found at 3865 West County Highway 30-A and this sweet spot has been a staple of this area since 1988. Locals and visitors agree their black Angus beef steaks and fresh-caught fish never disappoint. Each week they bring in over 3500 pounds of fresh shrimp and 1000 pounds of fresh fish so they’re always ready to serve up something delicious.

The newest spot in town, Papa Surf Burger Bar, down at 4324 West County Highway 30-A, is a family-friendly spot where you can enjoy delicious burgers, excellent company, and a delightful atmosphere. Their menu includes burgers made with fresh, local Wagyu beef along with sandwiches, salad, and dessert and they even offer a few vegetarian options to choose from. For an extra special treat, grab a spot to sit out on their cozy back porch.

For a romantic evening or special occasion, snag a reservation at Vue on 30A. Their dining room boasts a panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico and their repeatedly been lauded with accolades and awards since opening in 1971. Their culinary team of experts creates carefully curated menus that keep their customers coming back for more year after year. You’ll find them at 4801 West County Highway 30-A and be sure to book your table in time to see the sunset. You won’t be sorry.

Down at 5960 West County Highway 30A, you’ll find Stinky’s Fish Camp and Stinky’s Bait Shack. At Stinky’s, they serve up everything from boiled peanuts to crawfish pie to boudin bites to po boys and countless other dishes that will all fill you up and satisfy your cravings.

The Bait Shack is fully stocked with fishing tackle along with ice-cold beer, wine, and liquor and is also the perfect spot to grab a hat or t-shirt. You’ll also catch a wide variety of live musical performances from local and traveling musicians here and it bears noting that their frozen daiquiris are legendary.

They’ve also recently added a Coffee Bar and their New Orleans chicory coffee paired with the biscuits and gravy are quickly becoming another Stinky’s favorite.  As they say—with a name like Stinky’s, it’s got to be good!

At Kath & Kin Coffee where they offer coffee, baked goods, smoothies, and beer, you’ll find many tasty treats to choose from. Their espresso bar is open daily and on some lovely evenings, you might even catch a little live music out on their porch. Bike or drive down to 7525 West County Highway 30A and try their Red Flag Latte (flavored with strawberries and dark chocolate) then thank me later.

Three Sons Bar-B-Q began its life as a much-loved food truck up in Freeport. After years of local love, they’ve spread their wings to the south and set up shop down at 6931 West County Highway 30A. They offer traditional Bar-B-Q sandwiches as well as tacos, wraps, and bowls. Plus they have a special recipe for Brunswick Stew you’ll want to be sure and try. They’re serving breakfast now too, so that’s a treat. And their pork skin nachos are one of a kind.

Check out more 30A neighborhood guides here.

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Mary Alayne B. Long is an Alabama native who works as a Southern humorist, storyteller, and writer. She and her husband share an empty nest in Point Washington, Florida.