Serenity awaits the nature lover at the Choctaw Lodge Bed and Breakfast

Sit on a swing and enjoy a view of the river at the Choctaw Lodge. This unique swing fabricated by Kathryn's father also turns 360 degrees. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Paradise found on the Choctawhatchee River

When Ron and Kathryn Hardy of Panama City Beach walked into Sandi’s Feed and Seed in Lynn Haven back in 2009, they had little idea about how dramatically their lives were about to change.

Spotting a small index card on a bulletin board with a message “Riverfront Property For Sale,” the couple decided to find out more about an area they knew little about, the Choctawhatchee River.

Both of them grew up as “river rats,” according to Kathryn, who grew up along the Ocmulgee River in southeast Georgia and Ron near the Tensaw River in the Mobile River Delta in Alabama. After marrying, the couple would frequently go all the way to the Mobile area for their river weekend getaways.

The property for sale had nothing more than a small singlewide trailer situated right along the river. It did however, have a great porch with a spectacular view, and the couple were immediately taken – hook, line and sinker. They purchased the property and began spending every weekend on the river.

Explore the Choctawhatchee river while you stay at the Choctaw Lodge. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The weekends quickly grew into three days, then four, then Kathryn said to Ron, “all I need is for you to build me a closet and I will live here all the time.” Ron did not hesitate, and the two have been there ever since.

Soon, a small house was available next door and the couple purchased it and moved in. They removed the single wide and started building a home while they stayed in the house. Then, the home on the other side of their property became available and they bought it as well.

After spending several years renovating and remodeling, the three homes are tastefully decorated with all the creature comforts of home. Friends soon came to visit and enjoy spending time on the river with Kathryn and Ron.

Now, the couple are sharing their love of the river with their new bed and breakfast aptly named The Choctaw Lodge. Much more than a bed and breakfast, the lodge is more like a retreat with its peaceful serenity and quiet surroundings.

The Hardy’s home is the center point of entertaining along with where their gourmet breakfast is served along with a fireplace and hot tub on the porch. The Guest House, the Boat House, or the 48′ Choctaw Lady houseboat are available for guests to take out and spend the night on the river.

Tranquil seating areas with views of the river are spread out along the property, along with each home having large screened in porches looking out over the river.

The Choctaw Lodge offers river eco tours, fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, sunset wine and cheese cruises and massage therapy by appointment.

Head up to Spring Run while at the Choctaw Lodge. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Half and full day tours are available on the Choctawhatchee Lady or one of 2 additional boats available. Whole day cruises can opt to go to the bay, and half day cruises are available to go up the river and stop at a sandbar for lunch. Sunset wine and cheese cruises are available as well.

Canoe rentals for non-overnight guests are available for $25/day.

Guided boat tours/excursions and canoe/kayak rentals for non staying guests are available for 1/2 day and all day trips. Contact the Lodge for pricing.

The Choctaw Lodge grounds are available for special events accommodating up to 250 people.

Choctaw Lodge is located on the banks of the Choctawhatchee River between Ebro and Bruce, Fla. Call 850-835-1784 for reservations, or go to their website at www.choctawlodgeretreat.com.

The Guest House
Just a short stroll west off the lodge, through the small garden path and past the gazebo is the enchanting cottage style house. Laced in jasmine, the charming nature of the guest house is alluring to those who wish to enjoy the tranquility of the river.

A view from the Guest House dining room. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoor

The guest house has two bedrooms, (one queen size, one double), two baths, kitchen, living room, dining room, laundry room and a screened porch facing the river. The delightful antique swing on the porch is a favorite place for guests to relax. The dining room is surrounded by windows and built in window seats to relax and read while enjoying the view of the river. The living room couch makes into a comfortable queen size bed. The fully equipped kitchen includes oven, stove, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, cooking utensils, pots, pans and dishes. This house also includes a laundry room with a washer and dryer, central heat and air, and a satellite dish TV with DVD and VCR player. (Sorry no land line phones in either the boat house or guest house). Just down the steps toward the river is a fire pit for those who wish to sit around and enjoy the outdoors and a fire. In the evenings you will enjoy the sounds of the swamps as they come alive with crickets, frogs, locusts, owls and other nature sounds you can only hear at night.

Pricing:
• Daily:
- Minimum Stay of two nights is required.
- Price includes breakfast at the Lodge every morning and daily access to canoes and kayaks at no extra charge.
- $199 + tax per night for two people
- $360 + tax per night for up to 4 people
- ($50 for each additional person up to 6)

• Weekly:
- Price includes breakfast at the Lodge every morning and daily access to canoes and kayaks at no extra charge.
- Six nights $1800 + tax up to 4 people (You’re paying for five and getting the sixth night free)
- Six nights $1,020.00 + tax for up to two people per week (six nights)
- ($45 for each additional person up to 6)

The Boat House
The Boat House is located on the east side of the lodge. It is a captivating two bedroom, one bath house comfortably decorated in a fish camp style. At the right time of the season this house is showered with the fragrance of Wisteria growing wildly on the River Bank.

The Boat House porch looks out to the river. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoor

The boat ramp used to launch the boats, canoes and kayaks is located on the side of this house. The Boat House includes a large screened in porch facing the river. It is cooled in the summertime by fans and window air conditioners and heated in the winter time with a choice of individual oil heaters, a centralized gas heater or an actual wood burning fireplace in the living room. One bedroom has a double bed and the other a queen bed. Both bedrooms share a common closet. The couch also makes out into a comfortable queen size bed. All linens and towels are provided. A digital TV in the living room offers twelve local channels with a built in DVD and VCR player for viewing movies. The Boat House has a small library of movies or you may bring your own. No satellite or cable services are available in this house. We also have a wonderful library with many different types of books for your reading pleasures during your visit. The kitchen is fully equipped with dishes, cooking utensils, pot and pans, microwave, coffee pot, refrigerator, gas stove and oven. Near the Boat House you will find our lower deck built over the river with a fire pit. It is a great spot for relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet of the river. You may also want to lounge in one of our hammocks. The boat house is a delightful and comfortable house that many of our guests prefer. (Sorry, no Land Line phones in either the boat house or guest house).

Pricing:
• Daily:
- Minimum stay of two nights required.
- Price includes breakfast at the Lodge every morning and daily access to canoes and kayaks at no extra charge.
- $169 + tax per night for two people
- $260 + Tax per night for up to 4 people
- ($50 for each additional person up to 6)

• Weekly:
- Price includes breakfast at the Lodge every morning and daily access to canoes and kayaks at no extra charge.
- Six nights $1300 + tax up to 4 people (You’re paying for five and getting the sixth night free)
- Six nights $850 + tax up to 2 people (You’re paying for five and getting the sixth night free)
- ($45 for each additional person up to 6)

The Choctaw Lady

For those interested in an ultimate adventure, you may want to consider spending the night on the Choctawhatchee River aboard The Choctaw Lady, the 48′ house boat. The Choctaw Lady is especially suited for birders, photographers and naturalists who wish to explore the river in a more intimate environment.

Take an overnight trip on the Choctaw Lady. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Spend the night out on the water aboard the Choctaw Lady. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Experiencing the swamps and the river at night can be exciting and challenging for those who are adventuresome at heart. The Choctaw Lady is powered by generator. It has a Master bedroom with a queen size bed in the aft of the boat. Forward and below deck is an additional bedroom with two double beds. The galley is fully equipped with a gas stove, microwave, coffee pot, dishes, pots and pans. It is also equipped with central heat and air, and the head (bathroom) includes a toilet, sink and shower. The couch in the living room makes into a comfortable queen size bed. The main deck offers room for a kayak or canoe which you may launch in the mornings at you leisure to further explore what the river offers. There is an upper deck with table and chairs for outside dining. A licensed Captain will take you and The Choctaw Lady to a designated area removed from day to day civilization where you will spend the night. Our staff will check on you in the evening before dark and in the morning after sunrise. For your safety, the house boat may only be moved by one of our licensed captains. For emergency purposes and safety precautions the houseboat is tied to the river bank where cell phone service is available. The Choctaw Lady is available for overnight trips only when the weather and river conditions permit.

Pricing:
• Daily:
- Includes securing boat, Captain boat checks in morning and evening and breakfast groceries in refrigerator for you to prepare.
- $299 + tax per night for two people
- $450 + tax per night for up to 4 people
- ($75 each additional person up to 6)
• Weekly:
- Includes securing boat, Captain boat checks in morning and evening and breakfast groceries in refrigerator for you to prepare.
- Six nights $2250 + Tax up to 4 people (You’re paying for five and getting the sixth night free)
- Six nights $1,800 + tax up to 2 people (You’re paying for five and getting the sixth night free)
- ($75 for each additional person up to 6)

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4 Responses to Serenity awaits the nature lover at the Choctaw Lodge Bed and Breakfast

  1. Your story and pictures of this enchanting lodge is enticing. I’m anxious to visit and glad to know Walton County has a river B& B.
    Excellent, can’t wait to visit.

  2. Dr. Susan Petro says:

    Choctaw Lodge is a world away from the stress of everyday life. Ron and Kathryn,consummate hosts,will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive. The accomodations are fabulous but what will leave you breathless is the natural setting with nooks and crannies that beckon you to just sit and enjoy. Few people get to experience the incredible beauty of this river. Choctaw Lodge is truly a world class resort tucked away in our piece of paradise.

  3. James D. Mason says:

    We enjoyed reading about your place. We come down to Walton County each winter, and might like to spend a weekend in early March 2011 on our way home. Do you have any brochures or other information, including an address? Please send this to us, at 212 South Redwood Drive, Mankato, Minnesota 56001. Thanks. James D. Mason

  4. Betty Thompson says:

    Your place is awesome!!!!