8 things you might find at the beach, if you’re lucky

beachBy JENNIE McKEON / Daily News
Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 16:23 PM.

The beach is home to fascinating wildlife, postcard-worthy photo-ops and miles of squeaky, white sand. But, sometimes, if you look hard enough, you will also discover a rare gem that can make your trip to the beach extra special.

Compiled from locals with plenty of experience, here’s a checklist of things you’ll find at the beach, if you’re lucky.

1. Dolphins- Often regarded as one of Earth’s most intelligent animals, dolphins are always fun to spot. And since they are highly social mammals, they often travel in groups, or pods. Species you might find include the common dolphin and the common bottlenose dolphin.

2. Sand dollars- The beach’s currency, sand dollars, are hard to find in pristine condition, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check while you walk along the shore. Interesting fact – the ones you try to find are actually dead. Live sand dollars look like fuzzy cookies and have tube feet on their undersides.

3. Shade- Forgot your umbrella? You might find a cool spot in the shade alongside a building. Or you can hang out under local piers at Okaloosa Island and Navarre Beach.

4. Ghost crabs- Those pale colored crabs might be hard to spot along the sugar white beaches, which makes them all the more fun to find. During the day, the crabs are busy digging burrows. From sunset to dawn is when you’ll most likely see ghost crabs scurrying along the shoreline.

5. Riches- With or without a metal detector, you never know what might be hidden in the sand from loose change to old coins and even lost jewelry.

6. Celebrities- Movie stars (Matthew McConaughey), musicians (Luke Bryan), celebrity chefs (Emeril Lagasse) and best-selling authors (Anne Rice) have visited or made a home along the local beach communities. They just might be in the beach chair next to yours.

7. Sea turtles- Going for a stroll along the beach? Although they roam land at night, you might catch a peak of a sea turtle or nest. Stay alert when you’re scanning the water, too. You might see their heads sticking out as they swim by or catch a top-down view from a local fishing pier.

8. A parking spot- These can be as hard to find as diamond rings in the sand. During peak season, you might find yourself circling the parking lot waiting for someone to leave or having to make a small journey from your car to the beach.

Contact Daily News Staff Writer Jennie McKeon at 850-315-4432 or jmckeon@nwfdailynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @JennieMnwfdn.

Things To Do In Fort Walton Beach

Everyone knows of the beautiful sugar white sand beaches and emerald green water at Fort Walton Beach, FL but here are a few other attractions you may not know about:

From museums to shopping, there is always something to do in and around Fort Walton Beach!

Heritage Park & Cultural Center
The City of Fort Walton Beach Heritage Park & Cultural Center includes the Indian Temple Mound Museum, Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum, Garnier Post Office Museum, Fort Walton Temple Mound, and the Civil War Exhibit building.

Together these four museums and National Historic Landmark form a cultural center which presents the history of the Fort Walton Beach area from prehistoric times, some 12,000 years ago, the Civil War as it relates to the region, the first school in 1912, and through the close of the post office in the 1950′s. For more information, visit their wesite.

Emerald Coast Science Center
Located in downtown Fort Walton Beach, the science center offers numerous exhibits and hands-on demonstrations including the Hall of Life, Under the Hood & Wind Tunnel, and more! For more information, visit the Emerald Coast Science Center.

Air Force Armament Museum
With a collection of over 15,000 artifacts from the early days of aviation warfare armament during World War I through today’s high tech bombs and planes, the armament museum is a must see in the Fort Walton Beach area. For more information about the museum, visit the Air Force Armament Museum.

Emerald Coast Dirt & Vert
The only complete extreme sports facility along the coast in Northwest Florida, Emerald Coast Dirt & Vert includes a 9,000 square foot skatepark/street course, a BMX Racing track, and Burly BMX/Freestyle Dirt Jumps all in one place! To find out more,visit Emerald Coast Dirt & Vert.

Uptown Station
With over 60 national and local retail stores and restaurants, you are sure to find what you are looking for at Uptown Station. In addition, the district hosts several major events throughout the year attracting thousands of people. For more information, visit Uptown Station.

Downtown Arts & Entertainment District
The downtown area is home to a variety of unique shops and restaurants, Heritage Park & Cultural Center, Emerald Coast Science Center, and much more! Within the downtown area, the antique district contains numerous antique and collectables shops. To see what’s happening downtown this month, visit Downtown FWB.

Goofy Golf
Featuring two 18 hole miniature golf courses, people of all ages have been having fun at Goofy Golf in Fort Walton Beach for over 50 years! For more information, visit Goofy Golf.

Come Visit Okaloosa Island

The only way to describe Okaloosa Island today is “paradise”. The water today was the best it has been all summer. June grass has moved off shore leaving a little sargassum weed but seemed to be ignored by the beach goers. Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Our beaches continue to be packed everyday and are as clean as ever. Check us out on Facebook to see some pictures from today.