DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — After living and playing in the City of Destin for years, Okaloosa Co. local Shawna Adams and Texas-native Cash Stern created the Destin Harbor Haulers free shuttle service. Not like a paid taxi-cab, businesses operating on the harbor pay for the golf cart service to bring customers free of charge.
“For locals and also for visitors coming to Destin,” said Stern. “They’ll be able to go to restaurants and have dinner without ever touching their car keys.”
Adams said she saw a need for this sort of service years ago. The new company started by taking people staying at the Destin Inn to restaurants on the Harborwalk.
“I came up with this idea because I was born and raised in Okaloosa County, have lived in Destin and owned a house since 2008, and I have been close enough to walk to many places but didn’t always want to do that,” said Adams. “I recognized the public parking and the traffic situations and decided that golf carts, electric golf carts would be the way to go to make coming to Destin and the local restaurants a little bit easier for the locals and a little bit more fun.”
Recently, the pair got ahold of an app creator to bring anyone inside the Destin city bubble to subscribed drop-off locations. The app is similar to ride shares like Uber and Lyft tracking drivers and ride times.
“So we would be from the Emerald Grande back to Joe’s Bayou, back into the golf course, up to The Palms and then over to Holiday Isle is our service area now,” said Stern. “We plan on going further down Mountain but that is our service area for now.”
Sponsored Drop-off Locations in 2022:
- Cruisin’ Tikis
- Harbor Tavern
- Boathouse Oyster Bar
The service is in its first year, but Stern said they’ve received great community feedback including support from city officials like councilman Wagner.
“We’ve had some local families,” said Stern. “One group used it two different Thursday nights to go to for the fireworks before school started and they just really love the idea that they could do it as a family even, and go to a place where the Harbor Tavern is already on our app, it’s one of their favorite places, and they just really love the idea that they don’t have to drive or worry about parking and can get down there with their families.”
The pair said they will be adding equipment to keep the rides warm during the off-season on the coast. The real push is for locals to use this as much as visitors, if not more.
Why Golf Carts?
While the app improves and the company expands with more subscribing businesses, they hope to add a 4th golf cart. All of which are electric and solar powered.
“Golf carts are great because you feel free,” said Adams. “Feel the wind blowing on you. We have music, it’s just different and it makes the whole thing seem just more enjoyable.”
The City of Destin does allow certain styles of golf carts, considered Low-Speed Vehicles (LSVs) on local roadways.
“From a public safety standpoint, it is extremely important that the public is educated on what can and cannot be legally and safely driven on the road. LSVs are state-registered vehicles that have additional safety components on them as opposed to standard golf carts, that do not.
If we just reference them as golf carts it portrays that these are legal and safe to use on roadways and crossing highway 98. The city has done its due diligence as well as the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office to educate the public.”City of Destin Public Information office
How it works:
“You’ll download our Destin Harbor Haulers application,” said Stern. “It will give a step-by-step process. You will create your profile and just follow the prompts on the app to request rides to sponsored locations. Once the driver arrives, you’ll give your OTP code to the driver to verify that it’s the correct driver. You’ll jump on and you can enjoy a good conversation with your driver going to your restaurant.”
For the busy Labor Day weekend, anyone can get the app and use it from any public parking lot or anywhere inside the coverage area.
On the business side, the service charges a yearly rate split into monthly payments. For more information on how to become a drop-off location, contact the owners.