There is a magical island in Miramar Beach where memories of summer camp meet the sea – or at least the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Jolee Island Nature Preserve within the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a little reminder of days gone by as it has been left almost to its natural state and is open to the public for exploration and respite.

A wooden bridge connects the island to the main section of Sandestin resort and acts as a passageway into what Northwest Florida once was – a wild, piney, Osprey-filled marsh-land that beckons to the Tom Sawyer in all of us.

The bird-song starts almost the moment your feet hit the island, as do the crickets chirping and the breeze rustling through the pines. A meandering gravel path leads around the outskirts of the island revealing wooden play areas, picnic tables, bench-swings and a nautical play house right on the Bay.

But Jolee Island is a far cry from the air-conditioned restaurants and manicured parks just across the bridge; Jolee Island is for those who want to explore true Northwest Florida. Be prepared to sweat, bring bug spray and water, keep a wary eye out for wild animals, but let your inner child – or your children – run free.

It may look a bit tired around the edges as the picnic tables have warped with time, and the play-house shingles have shifted with the breeze, but Jolee Island offers a chance to find adventure within an ever-growing tourist town.

Even though the breeze brings sounds of new construction across the Bay, Jolee Island remains one of the last pieces of undeveloped land in Sandestin.

The little island welcomes families, pets, bicycles, hikers, pole fishermen, picnickers and explorers of every age. So grab your camera and your loved ones and get ready to make some old-fashioned memories at Jolee Island.

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