Traveler: A Sea Change In Destin, Florida

An under-the-radar gem for rejuvenating girlfriends getaway awaits.
Photo courtesy Henderson Beach Club

HAS IT BEEN too long since you’ve bonded with your besties? Head to the Henderson Beach Resort. A revival of the grand seaside resorts of old Florida, it sits in a soul-soothing spot between the Gulf of Mexico and a 200-acre nature preserve. Henderson’s private beach looks transplanted from the Caribbean, with water in shades of green, silver fish darting at your feet, and alabaster quartz sand. The Girlfriends Beach Picnic is set up with cushy seats, umbrellas, nibbles, bubbles, and extras. Afterwards, you can laze in a cabana at the adults-only pool or take a painting or jewelry-making class on the huge covered porch.

Photo courtesy Henderson Beach Club

On-site Primrose serves a chef’s table dinner in the kitchen. The five-course feast made with seasonal local ingredients by chef Tyler Simmons includes wine pairings and most recently featured carrot caraway bisque, maple bourbon pork belly, crab with green tomato, braised short rib, and honey panna cotta. The Henderson Spa boasts a hydrotherapy shower that relaxes muscles with three treatment modes. The Himalayan salt suite and a customizable aromatherapy massage are other avenues to aaah.

Photo courtesy Henderson Beach Club

When you’ve done enough noshing and lolling, you can take a paddleboarding tour with local outfitter Yolo. Newbie tip: You can sit. But if you try to stand up, don’t let go of your paddle. Another calorie-torcher is Surfset, a core workout that builds balance by basically surfing on land. Groups of four can book private classes with 23-year Henderson instructor Christi Charlton. Or if you want to take in the sights, pedal down Scenic Highway 98, the smoothest, most picturesque route, on a resort bike. End a day at the Rooftop Bar with a panoramic sunset view and live music. Sip a Destin Sunset, a sparkling L’elvira spumante cocktail, and graze on mild, sweet local pink shrimp as you bask in the golden hour. Don’t forget a toast to finally taking time for yourselves.

IF YOU GO

EAT: Stroll to the Beach Walk Cafe (2700 Scenic Hwy. 98, 850-650-7100) for Local Gulf Fish Ceviche.

EXPLORE: A protected reserve, Henderson Beach State Park (17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-837-7550) teems with wildlife. Spot migrating birds and butterflies in the spring and fall, as well as rabbits and gopher tortoises. Your room key gets you in gratis.

SOAR: Fly along the coastline in a Timberview Helicopter Tour (34859 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-774-0991). Over deeper offshore waters, your pilot will likely point out sharks.