My Unforgettable “Firsts” in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida


My Unforgettable “Firsts” in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida: Fishing, Lionfish Derby Judge, and Artificial Reef Deployment!

A sense of exhilaration and anticipation filled the air as I set foot in the stunning coastal paradise of Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida. This adventure including a series of thrilling “firsts!” From the excitement of casting my line for the very first time to the honor of serving as a judge at the Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Derby Restaurant Week and witnessing the awe-inspiring artificial reef deployment, each experience was incredible. Join me as I share my journey from my time in Destin:

🌟🍽️ Honored to be a judge at Emerald Coast Open Restaurant Week in beautiful Destin, Florida! 🌊🍴

🌊🍴”Eat Lionfish to Beat Them.” 🦁🐠 It’s incredible how the choices we make on our plates can have a positive impact on our oceans. By enjoying delicious lionfish dishes, we’re helping control their population and protect our marine ecosystems. 🌊🐠 I ate at two exceptional restaurants that showcased the versatility of lionfish prepared in multiple ways. 🍽️🦁 First, La Paz Mexican Restaurant delighted my taste buds with their lionfish tacos, ceviche, and grilled lionfish with a mouthwatering tropical salsa. 🌮🍤🍍 Each dish showcased the delicate flavor and tender texture of lionfish, combined with the vibrant and bold flavors of Mexican cuisine. It was a true fiesta of flavors that left me craving for more! 🌶️🍴Second, We ate outside on the water at Harbor Docks, where they prepared lionfish in a variety of innovative ways. From lionfish sushi rolls to lionfish sliders with tangy aioli, every bite was a delightful adventure. 🍣🍔 Their culinary creativity truly highlighted the potential of lionfish as a delicious seafood option. It was an absolute feast for both the eyes and the palate! 🍽️👀 Not only did these restaurants deliver exceptional dining experiences, but they also shared valuable information about the lionfish invasion. Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific, have become an invasive species in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, wreaking havoc on native marine life. By incorporating lionfish into their menus, these restaurants are actively promoting awareness and sustainable solutions. 🌍🦁🐟 By supporting these restaurants during Emerald Coast Open Restaurant Week, we’re not only treating ourselves to incredible meals but also joining the fight against the lionfish invasion. Together, we can make a difference and protect our precious marine ecosystems! 🌎❤️ Remember, every choice matters. Let’s explore sustainable dining options, try new flavors, and help preserve the beauty of our oceans for future generations to enjoy! 🌊🍽️💙

Lisa Niver diving the brand new reef with Alex Fogg, Photo by Alex Fogg

🌅🌊 What an incredible day on the water in Destin, Florida, with marine biologist Alex Fogg! 🐠🚀

Okaloosa County’s Coastal Resource Team deployed 38 prefabricated artificial reef modules off the coast of Destin-Fort Walton Beach, an exciting initiative that highlights the community’s dedication to marine conservation. 🏝️🔧🌿 At sunrise, we set out on a boat to join this remarkable effort. With Alex’s expertise guiding us, we witnessed the careful placement and strategic planning involved in creating these artificial reefs. The team’s commitment to preserving marine life and promoting sustainable practices was truly inspiring. 🙌🌊💙A big thank you to Alex Fogg for sharing his knowledge and passion for marine conservation and allowing me to join him to see the deployment and dive the new reef with him. 🐠🌿Destin, Florida, is called the luckiest fishing village but I call it the smartest because they have Alex and Jessica and two other marine biologists as part of the Visit Destin Fort Walton Team! 🐋💫

🐠 Fishing with Gabby from Lady Luck Adventures in Destin, Florida! 🐠

🎣🌊🐟 What an incredible day out on the water with Gabby from Lady Luck Adventures in Destin, Florida! 🚤💫 I had the privilege of going on my very first fishing trip, and let me tell you, it was an absolute blast! Gabby, our amazing captain, made sure we had a fantastic time from start to finish. Her knowledge and expertise were truly impressive, and she made the experience both educational and fun. 🎣📚I was with Shayna and it was her first day of fishing also! But the highlight of the day? I caught my FIRST fish ever! 🎉🐠 The exhilaration I felt as I reeled it in was absolutely indescribable. It was a moment of pure joy and accomplishment. Thanks to Gabby’s guidance, I was able to make it happen! 🙌😊 I can’t stress enough how much fun I had on this trip. The beautiful waters of Destin provided the perfect backdrop for a day filled with laughter, excitement, and great company. Lady Luck Adventures truly lives up to its name! 🌟✨ If you’re ever in Destin, Florida, and looking for an unforgettable fishing experience, I highly recommend booking a trip with Gabby and Lady Luck Adventures. You won’t be disappointed! 🌊🎣❤️

🐢💙 CAREing for turtles program 🐢at Gulfarium✨🌊🔬

Jessica Valek is a dedicated marine biologist with Visit Destin Fort Walton, who shared her passion for marine conservation and rehabilitation of sea turtles. We learned about sea turtle nests and their life cycle, saw the turtle hospital and did interactive turtle assessments to learn about the challenges turtles face in their natural habitats and the importance of conservation efforts. 🌍💙 🙌🌿Red-light flashlights can help protect these magnificent creatures. 🌍 🔍🐢

🌊🐠 Exciting day exploring Gulfarium in beautiful Destin, Florida! 🐬🐢 Immerse yourself in the wonders of marine life at Gulfarium, where captivating experiences await. 🌟 From up-close encounters with dolphins and sea lions to fascinating turtle assessments with marine biologist Jessica, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and learn from. 🐋🔍 The interactive programs at Gulfarium provide a unique opportunity to connect with marine animals and deepen your understanding of their habitats. Witness the intelligence and agility of dolphins as they perform incredible stunts, and marvel at the grace of sea lions as they showcase their skills. 🐬🦁 Don’t miss the chance to join the CAREing program led by Jessica, where you’ll gain insights into the well-being of sea turtles through hands-on observations. Discover the dedication and passion behind sea turtle conservation efforts and how you can make a difference. 🐢🌿 Gulfarium’s commitment to education and conservation is truly inspiring. Their team of experts is dedicated to protecting marine life and preserving our oceans for future generations. 🌍💙 Plan your visit to Gulfarium in Destin, Florida, and embark on a journey of discovery and appreciation for the incredible creatures that call our oceans home. 🌊🐠

🛩️✨ Leaving Destin, Florida with gorgeous views, reflecting on an incredible journey! ✈️🌅

From being a first-time judge at the exhilarating Lionfish Derby to experiencing the thrill of fishing for the very first time, and even witnessing the deployment of an artificial reef, my time in Destin has been filled with unforgettable adventures and breathtaking moments. 🦁🎣🚀 The Lionfish Derby showcased the importance of controlling this invasive species, and I was honored to play a role in promoting sustainable practices. You can save the world while you savor your meal! 🌊🐟 Casting my line for the first time, feeling the tug, and reeling in my catch brought an indescribable sense of accomplishment and joy. Fishing in Destin’s pristine waters is an experience I’ll cherish forever. 🎣🌊 And then there was the awe-inspiring moment of witnessing the deployment of an artificial reef. The careful placement of each module and the team’s dedication to marine conservation left me in awe of the efforts being made to protect and enhance our precious ecosystems. 🌿🌊🔧 As my flight ascends, I’m filled with gratitude for the incredible memories made in Destin. The beauty of this coastal paradise, the kindness of its people, and the sense of adventure that lingers in the air will forever hold a special place in my heart. 💙🌴✨ Thank you, Destin-Fort Walton Beach, for the opportunity to explore, learn, and create lasting memories. Until we meet again! 🌅⛵

My interview with Alex Fogg

My interview with Alex was also featured on MSN and DiveNewsWire

Want to know more about my adventures? I did 50 Challenges before I turned 50! Read all about it in my book, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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