Rebecca Gray has lived in the Fort Walton Beach area for more than a decade, but said until she applied for a job at The Island, she had never heard of The Grotto swim-up bar. Now a bartender for the newly renovated (former Ramada) hotel, Gray said she has embraced "The Island" lifestyle.

“I didn’t even know this was here,” she said. “I love the pool bar because there is no place like it, and everyone is happy in here. And then at the beach bar, I’m staring at the Gulf watching dolphins play while I work.”

The Grotto swim-up bar is a unique feature in the in-ground swimming pool at The Island. Inside a man-made rock cave, behind a waterfall, you can find Gray waiting to serve you a summer cocktail in the coolest atmosphere on Okaloosa Island.

“People get so excited when they come in here,” Gray said. “They are always in here taking photos and videos and even Facetiming people. Even the kids get excited; they are always splashing and screaming.”

Going on her seventh year of bartending, Gray said her favorite aspect of the job is – you guessed it – the people.

“It looked like fun and it is fun,” she said. “I love it. I like talking to people, meeting new people and keeping in touch with people.”

When it comes to her signature sip, Gray chose the most popular drink at The Grotto, which is also the largest drink on the menu.

“Definitely the Malibu Punch Bucket, the 32-ounce bucket full of rum and fruit juice,” she said. “It’s got 1 ounce each of passion fruit, pineapple, banana, mango and coconut flavored Malibu Rums, and then pineapple, orange and cranberry juice.”

As for her off-time, Gray is a busy mother of two (soon to be three) and loves to explore the outdoors.

“I like to paddle board with my family and, it’s so weird, but we raise ducks,” she said. “I love my ducks; it’s ridiculous! At one point this year we had 14 ducks, and my kids are so good with them.”

The Grotto swim-up bar is within The Island by Hotel RL on Okaloosa Island at 1500 Miracle Strip Pkwy. SE. Day passes are required for non-guests of the hotel, but can be purchased for $20 for an individual pass or $70 for a family of four which comes with a $20 food or beverage voucher. The Grotto is open seasonally from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, visit or call 850-243-9161.