…The Dune Lakes
An Eco Tour in Walton County Is a Natural
You’ve heard the expression, “When in Rome.” Well, when in Walton County, you cannot overlook the opportunity to get up close and personal with the stunning nature around you. With state parks, preserves and wetlands making up 40 percent of the area, “green with envy” takes on a whole new meaning. Walco Eco Tours provides hands-on eco-tours guided by owner Murray Balkcom. An avid outdoorsman, Balkcom has been paddling on the coastal dune lakes of South Walton and the Gulf of Mexico since 2002, and has been leading guided nature walks and guided kayak tours in Walton County since 2006.
Balkcom describes the coastal dune lakes as rare national treasures that are unknown even to longtime locals. He explains that this particular type of lake is found only in New Zealand, Australia and Walton County, where there are 15. “Our tours are a great way to reconnect with the outdoors, and provide a great alternative to a day at the beach,” he says.
Walco Eco Tours offers two wonderful ways to explore Walton County’s Western Lake and the surrounding animals and plant life that call it home. Opt for an excursion that combines kayaking and walking/hiking or try the new offering — a YOLO Yak. YOLO, an acronym for You Only Live Once, is a brand of stand up paddleboard birthed in Santa Rosa Beach. The YOLO Yak is a hybrid board designed with elements of a paddleboard and a kayak to facilitate better stability while paddling. This tour combines a YOLO Yak ride and walking/hiking. Both experiences are two hours long and are customized to the level and interest of the group. Tours launch from the boathouse at WaterColor, located on Scenic Highway 30A.
The kayak tour requires two people and maxes out at eight. It is open to kids ages 5 and up. Adults are $60; kids under 10 are $30. The YOLO Yak tour is $60 per person and open to kids ages 12 and up.
When you go, wear waterproof shoes, sunscreen and a hat (as long as it is secured). And don’t forget to drink plenty of water before you venture into the sun on the tour. For more information, visit WalcoEcoTours.com.