Surreal sugar white sands and azure waters without the crowds. To capitalize on Pensacola's renowned Gulf Coast setting, we decided to follow the most scenic route to Orlando and Theme Park mecca. Surreal white sands and a feeling of calmness and peace, this was what greeted us on the road through Gulf Islands National Park.
Being a weekday, we had the extra bonus of seeming to have the road and beach to ourselves.
There was barely a person or car to be seen, just the odd campervan and the sand the whitest powder. We drove over a series of bridges over the waters linking the panhandle and mainland, and also drove through residential communities, marvelling that people had the fortune to live in these surrounds.
I have read that since our trip, there has been some rerouting of some of these roads, due to the risk of flooding, so I am glad to have had the opportunity to drive as we did.
Dark clouds threatening to unleash added to the atmosphere, we fully expected to be caught up in a brief storm and were somewhat disappointed that we ended up with light rain interspersed with sunshine and cloud so vibrant that it made me want to grab an easel and set up on the foreshore. We followed the highway to Navarre, it probably added about an hour as we ambled along, to an already very long day trip, but it was jaw dropping, and certainly the gentle ocean was a contrast to the pounding waves I would expect to see on any coastline in Australia.
I have read that dolphin sightings are common here, without a doubt on our return visit, we will maximise our experience by finding beach accommodation and spending some time both on the waters edge, and also explore the historical Pensacola district. But it was time for the next leg of our journey, Orlando.
All up, it was a long day of driving, and we eventually pulled into our accommodation at Homewood Suites Orlando Airport, with the sun going down (having stopped at a Dennys along the way!).