Our time in Florida was over, and even though I could’ve happily spent another week or two exploring, I was excited to be moving onto the next state on our list… Alabama!
Alabama is a four-hour drive from Carrabelle beach, so we head off early. When it comes to planning your road trip make sure you factor in things like petrol stops, breaks to use the toilet and any food stops, as it can add a considerable amount of time onto your journey.
We arrived at Pandion ridge RV resort early afternoon. The campsite is picturesque, with a lake, swimming pool and lots of amazing places to explore. Our pitch had a full hook up and a picnic table. The cost for one night was $83 (you can book your stay here http://pandionridge.com/ ) After eating (yes, we ate a lot), we took a trip down the road to J and M tackle, to get fishing rods. Johnny couldn’t wait to have a go at fishing with the girls, whilst I was having a slight panic about them fishing in alligator infested waters! After picking up not one fishing rod, but three, we drove back to our campsite (just a 5-minute drive down the road).
We spent the afternoon exploring the campsite, and fishing in the lake (with no luck). The campsite is peaceful and a great place to relax. There is a firepit with seating next to the lake, so you can keep warm in the evening and toast marshmallows. The swimming pool is located next to the lake and has plenty of sun loungers and a BBQ for public use. There is also a fitness centre, laundry facilities and a clubhouse.
The campsite is in an ideal location if you’re looking to visit The Wharf. I had already booked a sunset dolphin cruise at The Wharf marina for all of us. We booked with a company called Sunny Lady (you can book your trip here https://dolphincruiseorangebeach.com) The trip cost us $20 per adult, $17 per child and children under 3 go for free. The sunset boat trip is for around 1.5-2 hours. The boat trip started at 5:30pm and the girls were all given life jackets to wear on board. There’s a top and bottom deck with lots of seating available. Whilst waiting for everyone to get seated, the tour guide brought round a parrot called Lucy. You were able to hold the parrot and get some photos taken with her.
The tour guide was fantastic! He provided us with lots of information about the area and the different dolphins we saw, and he had a great sense of humour. The boat had a snack bar available to buy drinks and a variety of snacks for the trip. I was worried we might not see any dolphins but within 15 minutes, we had spotted three dolphins, including a baby! The girls were so excited and as the trip went on, the tour guide spoke over the speaker, telling us which way to look to see more dolphins. You’re free to walk around the boat so that you can get a better view of the animals (and of the beautiful sunset!). We saw around 15 dolphins in total!
We were extremely lucky as it was a sunny evening without a cloud in the sky, so the sunset was incredible. We watched the dolphins swimming alongside the boat as the sun went down, and it was definitely one of my favourite evenings of the whole trip.
The tour guide explained that they were going to try and get the dolphins to jump. They sped the boat up which created big waves behind us. We weren’t sure what to expect, but a minute later, three dolphins started jumping and playing in the waves, right behind our boat. It was an amazing experience seeing these beautiful animals playing in the wild. It was the perfect trip and worth every penny. If you would like to find out more about what trips there are on offer, take a look at https://dolphincruiseorangebeach.com/
After the boat trip, we went off to explore The Wharf. We arrived just as a firework display started, and strolled down the palm tree lined street, looking at all of the beautiful shops and amazing restaurants. We stopped at Sol y Mar Mexican grill for nachos and fajitas. It was delicious and the portions were huge! Once we had eaten, we went back out onto the main street to watch the SPECTRA, a free light and sound show, which lights up the street in time to music. The spectra show happens several times throughout the evening.
There are so many things to do whilst you are at the wharf, from mini golf and a 15-screen movie theatre, to an arcade with laser tag and an escape room. We decided to take in the sights from the Ferris wheel. There’s no age limit so we could all go on as a family and admire the breath-taking views. Thrill seekers can check out the hummingbird zipline course, which has 8 zip line towers. The wharf amphitheatre is the place to go for music lovers, check ahead online to see who’s performing there.
On the way back to the campsite we stopped at a bar for a drink and to listen to some live country music. Poppy was so happy that they sang her request of her favourite song: Dolly Parton- Jolene. It was the perfect end to the perfect evening!