Alys Beach is a New Urban community on Highway 30A between Fort Walton and Panama City, Florida. I am never disappointed by this seaside community’s thoughtful application of design, sustainability, and luxury. As a result, my family returns often to relax and find inspiration. After our latest visit, I have to share with you some of the innovative ways Alys Beach masters the art of Eco-Chic!
Native landscaping is featured in every public and private space. This practice reduces the need for water, pesticides, and fertilizers.
public spaces and walking places:
Public spaces, connected by beautiful walking paths made of locally available Florida caprock, are sprinkled throughout the community. These well connected streets and paths encourage walking and biking from place to place. The cobblestone roads of Alys Beach are not just a quaint design feature; they are handset in layers of gravel, allowing much of the rainwater that falls to make it back into the ground. All the paved spaces feature organic edges and a hand-laid appearance, helping them blend in easily with the landscaping.
reorienting the beach front property:
All the homes have been built behind the dunes to preserve the beach and natural seascape, which also affords the added benefit of extra protection for houses in the event of a hurricane. Major streets and paths orient directly to the Gulf, presenting uninterrupted views while allowing the ocean breeze to funnel into the heart of town. Well placed outdoor rooms recapture the experience of sitting on the beach while providing an elevated view of the seascape. This innovative approach to beachside living protects and supports the natural environment.
The sea turtle population in Florida has suffered for years from the effects of light pollution. The female sea turtle needs a dark beach to create her nest and hatchlings are led away from the water by the lights from beachside properties. Alys Beach has employed the tenets of the “Dark Sky” initiative to all their outdoor lighting. Turtle friendly light fixtures point downward and have a limited light spectrum.
Natural and locally sourced materials are used in the construction of the homes. Concrete and stucco buildings are supremely durable and resistant to the harsh elements found Gulf side. The white stucco and concrete also reflects the Northwestern Florida sun and keeps the town cooler as a result.
Alys Beach is an inspiring example of how a thoughtful development can help nurture and support the environment it is built within. Some may call Eco-Chic the latest fad but I am hopeful this is a trend that becomes a standard.
all photos by marcelle guilbeau