By 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JennieMnwfdn.