As most all of 30A has been discovered and locals suffer through the busy and packed tourist season, there is one beach community that does not have to deal with the crowds experienced at other communities.
On a quiet stretch of County Road 30A between Seagrove and Seacrest, WaterSound Beach rests on 210 acres and mostly behind three different gated entrances into its three beach communities.
A relative newcomer to 30A, WaterSound was established in 2001 by the St. Joe Company and 13 years later only has 326 homes and 130 condos on its large acreage, and most are home to full-time residents.
One such household is the home of Tony and Micheline Riggio, who are some of the earliest residents.
The Riggios have called WaterSound home for seven years.
The couple first discovered the area in 1995 when they came down the week after Hurricane Opal hit.
"The building we were booked into was gone and the rental agent put us up in Beachcrest instead. The National Guard was here directing traffic, and this was our first time down," recalls Tony. "But, it was beautiful on the beach after the storm. The water was turquoise and there were sea shells everywhere. This was our first vacation in 25 years and we were like two little kids. We fell in love with the area. I saw the devastation around me in Panama City and Destin, but everything around me had survived and we knew this was where we would retire. We have no regrets."
Tony is retired from the FBI, where he worked for 25 years, a job that required a lot of moves and not a lot of time off.
The Riggios recall meeting on a beach on Long Island when Montreal-born French-speaking Micheline was 17 and spoke only a little English. Tony was from the Bronx and of Italian descent.
"He told me I was mysterious," says Micheline now, with an eye roll.
So, Tony asked her out and on their first date, the boy from the Bronx took the mysterious Micheline to Callahan Beach with a six-pack of beer, recalls Micheline now, with a shake of her head.
The two dated on and off for five years.
Tony went on to go into the army, finished college, went to law school, taught, and practiced law before being hired by the FBI.
"I hated the practice of law," he said. "Too many divorces."
While raising their three children in her spare time, Micheline painted.
"I have painted all my life," she says.
She is self taught and pastels are her preferred mode.
Micheline has found that the nature surrounding her at WaterSound inspires her to create.
"We have the most beautiful dunes here at WaterSound that exist," she said. "Grayton's are not like here. These take your breath away, and the water is different every day."
With few people on WaterSound's beach and walkways, Micheline is able to go out, set up her easel and paint the majestic dunes en plein air on a regular basis.
"Seagrove, Rosemary, and Alys are so packed. This is like a little pocket. We love it here. It is very quiet. You can hear the birds and waves. We thought it was perfect when we first saw it," she said.
The Riggios are some of the original homeowners at WaterSound.
"There was nothing here when we bought," said Micheline. "I painted here before there were houses."
"We can sit alone on the beach," chimed in Tony. "In the summer there may be only 30 people on our beach and in the fall, two. When we first saw WaterSound, even though there was not a single house built, I said I could live here. There are trees and space between the houses, unlike some other beach towns."
And WaterSound living has suited this couple to a tee.
Surrounded by Camp Creek and Deer Lake, as well as Point Washington State Forest, WaterSound offers the Riggios the quietest and most serene beach on 30A, as well as a reminder of their homes in the north.
"The houses are supposed to look like Nantucket," said Micheline, "with a Florida vernacular. And, all paths lead to the sea. It's perfect."