Rosemary Beach

A sustainably designed place in the sun

By Sarah Kinbar


When Kim learned that the Alaskan wild salmon he once sourced was being injected with pig hormones, he switched to Mikuni Wild Harvest, which catches healthy fish from Cape Flattery, Washington. Purveyors all around town share Kim’s attentive mindset.

Just down the way, chef Ed Reese of Edward’s Fine Food and Wine is devoted to local flavors. His menu includes Apalachicola oysters, Florida grouper, and produce grown nearby. Beginning at 5 P.M., the restaurant’s open-air courtyard becomes a stage for singer-songwriters who work the 30A corridor. There’s also the occasional movie night, with a film projected onto a courtyard wall visible throughout the restaurant.

Unlike nearby Seaside and WaterColor, which came first and prided themselves on borrowing features from the houses that originally populated this area, Rosemary Beach imported its architectural style from the West Indies. Just as Caribbean design emphasizes galleries, porches, balconies, large windows, and shutters, so do these homes.

Traditional Baroque gables and gaslights embellish the houses and larger buildings in Rosemary Beach. The native landscape softens the visual impact of the classic architecture, making it feel of a piece.

There’s no one piece of the puzzle that defines this town. Together, the houses, shops, and restaurants, nestled into native landscaping, entice visitors. And then there’s the beach, just over the dunes, which is cool to the touch all year long, a perfect foreground for dazzling nightly sunsets.

Green Guide

  • The 30A Farmers’ Market at Rosemary Beach every Thursday and Sunday features seasonal fruits and vegetables. While some American farmers’ markets sell produce from all over the world, this one is impressively local.
  • Amavida Coffee sources its Trekker Series coffee through a fair trade agreement with the Rio Azul Cooperative. The coffee comes from an ecofriendly farm in Jacaltenango, Guatemala.
  • The newly opened Iona’s Flower Market is managed by Brittni Walker, who grew up vacationing here. Whenever possible, she sources local and organic materials, such as Chinese lantern branches and marigolds. Look for floral design classes in spring and summer.
  • While all of Rosemary Beach’s cottages have green elements, Riley’s Retreat is environmentally conscious from top to bottom. Efficient appliances, bamboo flooring and steps, and certified green construction are some of the appealing features.
  • Summer Kitchen Cafe uses bamboo to-go boxes, bio-cups, and recycled coffee cups printed with soy ink. The restaurant also has a solar-powered roof vent and reflective roofing.

Photography by Cocoa Laney
Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, February/March 2014