29 Jun 2022
10 Important Local Laws to Know When Staying on the Emerald Coast
Everywhere we go and live has laws; laws exist to help us function as a society and to protect ourselves from ourselves and from others. Of course, because laws are different everywhere you travel, it’s important to know what certain local ones are—the ones that you might be most likely to unwittingly break—as a visitor. Nothing will put a damper on a vacation faster than a ticket, so read through this list of important local laws to know when staying on the Emerald Coast.
No Glass on the Beach
Beverages are allowed on the beach. Pack a cooler full of whatever floats your boat, but you can’t have glass containers. It’s also unlawful to litter.
Make sure that if you’re drinking alcoholic beverages that you’re of age. Underage drinkers are required to pour their drinks out and are ticketed—possibly worse. Obviously, no one should drink to the point of public intoxication, which is also unlawful.
Bonfires & the Beach
On 30A, beach bonfires are allowed with a permit. Because of the permitting process, most people hire a company to do a beach bonfire for them—they handle set up and breakdown…you just show up.
In Destin, fires are not lawful between the water’s edge and the high-water mark or vegetation line.
Sea Turtles are Heavily Protected
Endangered sea turtles use the sugar white sands of South Walton for laying their eggs. State and federal penalties including fines and prison time can occur if you hurt, kill, or disrupt the sea turtle’s life cycle in any way.
For this reason, if you see eggs, avoid them. If you are on the beach at night, mind your flashlight; the lights confuse the turtles and disturb them. Don’t shine lights on or toward sea turtle eggs. If you see a sea turtle making its way to the beach, don’t intervene. Help the area protect the sea turtles by not harming them.
Leave the Sand Where It Is & Stay Off the Dunes
It’s against the law to remove sand from the beach. It’s also unlawful to walk, play on, or disturb the sand dunes or the beach vegetation. These dunes build slowly over the course of hundreds of years and are fragile. They serve as an important natural defense against storms and are a haven for beach wildlife. Human intervention is detrimental and is thus unlawful.
Pop-up canopies aren’t allowed on the beach within Destin City limits. Meanwhile, they are allowed on 30A if they’re no larger than 10’x10’ and are on the upper 1/3 of the beach, away from the water with a 15’ berth for emergency vehicles.
Importantly, tents, chairs, and any beach gear must be removed at the end of each day because they could get in the way of sea turtles.
Avoid camping or sleeping overnight on the beach; camping is prohibited on both 30A and Destin beaches.
Likewise, fireworks are not allowed on the beach. This applies to both 30A and to Destin. No worries, though, if you like fireworks displays…several areas, such as The Village at Baytowne Wharf have fireworks displays as part of their entertainment.
Mind the Flags
Swimming when the flags tell you that it’s not safe could lead to some trouble (you potentially losing your life not withstanding). Learn the flag system, so you can swim smart on the beach.
- Green is calm.
- Yellow means moderate surf/currents.
- Red means high surf/strong currents.
- Double red means dangerous conditions and that the water is closed.
- Purple means dangerous marine life has been spotted.
- White/blue flag means there are technical issues and you need to check elsewhere for the flag.
No Dogs on the Beach
Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach; Okaloosa County has a mandate in the interest of protecting beachgoers with this law. On 30A, with a permit, locals (one must be a local to obtain a permit), dogs can visit the beach at certain times of day. In Destin, it’s noted that no dogs are allowed on beaches, in public parks, on school grounds, or in restaurants or in food stores unless the dog is a seeing eye or a hearing ear dog.
30A’s community guidelines regarding dogs is more flexible with many restaurants permitting canine guests.
Finally, there are no longer nude beaches in Destin or Walton County, so importantly, make sure to always have proper attire covering your body when in town or on the beach. While beachwear is certainly de rigueur, it’s not apropos to don less than that.
To that end, keep this list handy. By knowing the rules and following them when you visit the Emerald Coast, you’ll have a wonderful time and stay on the right side of Johnny Law.
Do you have questions about other local laws before your stay on the Emerald Coast? If so, contact us at My Vacation Haven and ask! We are happy to give you as much information as possible to guarantee that you have a wonderful Emerald Coast beach vacation experience!