Beyond Destin: Holmes Creek and Cypress Springs
Destin has a lot to offer, and although its beaches are world-famous and its seafood delicious, there are hundreds of hidden treasures in the surrounding area of Northwest Florida that yield for fun adventures, day trips and weekend getaways. This column which will be featured once a month, will follow the wanderings of reporter, Savannah Vasquez, and explore the many opportunities in Destin’s surrounding area. I invite you to explore with me Beyond Destin.
It’s summer time in Florida, and while everyone else is flocking to the beaches, my husband Cristian and I have a new obsession – kayaking the spring-fed creeks.
This past weekend Cristian and I visited Holmes Creek and Cypress Springs in Vernon, Florida. We started out the day at Holmes Creek Canoe Livery where the friendly folks offer canoe, kayak and tube rentals, or for a small fee they will allow you to bring your own vessel and offer parking and shuttle service.
At the canoe livery the parking area is dotted with trees offering ample shade and there are several picnic tables available for those wanting to snack before or after their canoe trip.
Also on the livery property along the creek there is an old-school platform with a tin water slide, and a rope-swing for customers to enjoy; albeit at their own risk. At one time a zip-line adventure was offered, and the tall wooden structure still stands along the banks of the creek, however, the tree overgrowth has now placed the activity out of commission. The area is not built up like a state park as the only bathroom facility is a port-a-potty, but there is a small changing room available for getting in and out of bathing suits.
After parking and paying for a tour, a guide loads up all the vessels and tubes and drives the group to a nearby put-in and points the way upstream toward Cypress Springs. Of course, the put-in points along the creek are available to the public, but some are located down very long gravel roads, and it is nice to have the option to just paddle down-river and not worry about paddling back upstream.
Once in the creek, it didn’t take long until Cristian and I heard the noise of a crowd and followed the sound to a clear water off-shoot leading into Cypress Springs.
Cypress Springs was actually an impressively large spring with a very deep center. A rope-swing hangs from a nearby tree, and a wooden deck runs along one side of the spring allowing for a warm dry spot to stand for those who deem the water too cold. An cold it is! The water is 68 degrees year-round, but the chill is worth the view if you bring along a snorkel and mask. Under the surface there are plenty of cool things to see such as green plant life, mossy rocks, fallen logs and some small fish.
After exploring the spring we continued down the creek hoping to find small hidden springs along the way. However, unlike Econfina Creek, this section of Holmes Creek did not have any other springs. The water was murky most of the way down so we just enjoyed the view as we navigated down stream back to the livery.
If you do not own your own vessel make sure to come early as the day we toured the creek, the canoes were all sold out by noon. Also on these hot summer days make sure to pack a cooler full of drinks and snacks for a lazy day the old fashioned way; cruising down the creek.
Holmes Creek Canoe Livery is located about an hour and a half northeast of Destin at 2899 A Hwy. 79 in Vernon, Florida. Canoe launches are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Canoe rentals cost $35 or $45 depending on length of trip. Bring your own vessel and pay $15 for parking and shuttle. For more information call 210-7001 or visit http://holmescreekcanoelivery.com