It was a very stormy ride with frightening threats of tornadoes in Alabama on my way to the Gulf Coast and the oasis awaiting me there. As I arrived in South Walton, Florida, miraculously, the dark clouds parted as if to welcome me. Pulling into the gated property of Sanctuary at Redfish in Santa Rosa Beach, I knew the drive was worth it.
This Newman-Dailey Resort property is a private refuge on Big Redfish Lake, beautifully tucked away from the usual beach antics. My large condo balcony overlooked the gorgeous expanse of pools, spas and private bungalows lining the pool deck, the ocean beach visible just across the lake. Excited to check out the grounds and the beach, I walked out past the pool to the dock, where Captain Bob takes guests on a quick pontoon ride across Big Redfish Lake to the beach. Within minutes, we pulled up to an inlet on the crystal white sand and just like that, I was able to enjoy the stunning aqua water of the Gulf.
Sanctuary at Redfish guests find an array of amenities and excursions available. First up for me, an art class at The Shard Shop located among a bunch of adorable little galleries in Santa Rosa. Guests pick out a canvas to decorate with a palette of glass pieces of every shape, size and color along with all sorts of glass embellishments. The next day, the artist (you!) picks up her masterpiece, sealed in resin for a permanent shine.
On my second day, I made my way to the Boathouse at Watercolor where I was met by two instructors at Run/SUP to do a little paddle boarding at Western Lake. Run/Sup is the newest interval style workout that combines running with stand-up paddle boarding. They also use an inflatable paddle board which is thicker and wider for extra stability. If interval training is not your thing, they also hold SUP/Yoga classes for those that prefer a more zen-like water experience.
Dinner that evening was less than a mile down scenic Highway 30A at Trebeache in Blue Mountain Beach, a pretty place to relax and have a good conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed succulent scallops and potato wrapped grouper atop tender asparagus. For dessert, I would recommend their pistachio creme brûlée.
The final planned excursion, which Newman-Dailey recently began offering, was a guided morning trail ride at Arnetts Gulfside Trail Rides. Guests are given safety riding tips and placed on size-appropriate horses, and yes, kids are welcome. Then the trail boss takes the group of riders through the forest pointing out local foliage and facts about the terrain along the way. The horses were well trained and knew the trail, so even if you’ve never been on a horse before, this would be an enjoyable experience.
Also on tap for the day–a bike ride up 30A for a little exercise before another delicious meal. The shiny new bikes from Big Fish Bike Rental are delivered to your condo. I loved the vintage style beach cruisers with the large padded seats and old-style brakes which reminded me of the bicycle I had when I was a kid.
After a full day of activity, I was ready for dinner at Vue on 30A. The name says it all: fine dining with the most glorious view of the Gulf. I enjoyed the refreshing watermelon and feta salad with raspberry vinaigrette, and the pecan crusted grouper atop risotto is a winning dish.
If you’re ready to plan a fun and relaxing vacation for your family, or a romantic getaway, I recommend visiting Sanctuary at Redfish for a more secluded, unique beach destination. We thoroughly enjoyed all the activities that Newman-Dailey organized; there’s so much to do in South Walton in addition to lounging on the gorgeous white sand ocean beach. SanctuaryRedfish.com