DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — After living and playing in the city of Destin for years, Okaloosa Co. local Shawna Adams and Texas native Cash Stern started the free Destin Harbor Haulers shuttle service. Unlike a paid taxi, businesses operating at the port pay for the golf cart service to bring customers for free.
“For locals and also for visitors coming to Destin,” Stern said. “They will be able to go to a restaurant and dine without ever touching their car keys.”
Adams said she saw the need for this type of service years ago. The new company began by taking people staying at the Destin Inn to restaurants on the Harborwalk.
“I had this idea because I was born and raised in Okaloosa County, live in Destin and have owned a home since 2008, and have been close enough to go to foot in a lot of places, but I didn’t always want to do that.” said Adams. “I recognized the public parking and traffic situations and decided that golf carts, electric golf carts would be the way to go to make coming to Destin and local restaurants a little easier for people. locals and a bit more fun.”
Recently, the pair got their hands on an app maker to get anyone inside the Destin city bubble to subscriber drop-off locations. The app is similar to ride shares like Uber and Lyft that track drivers and ride times.
“So we would be from the Emerald Grande to Joe’s Bayou, back to the golf course, to The Palms, then to Holiday Isle, which is our service area now,” Stern said. “We plan to go further up the mountain, but this is our service area for now.”
Sponsored drop-off locations in 2022:
- Tikis on a cruise
- Harbor Tavern
- Boathouse Oyster Bar
- Tail fins
The service is in its first year, but Stern said it has received great feedback from the community, including support from city officials like Councilman Wagner.
“We had local families,” Stern said. “A group used it on two different Thursday nights to go to the fireworks before school started and they really love the idea that they could even do it as a family, and go to a place where the Harbor Tavern is already on our app, it’s one of their favorite places, and they really love the idea that they don’t have to drive or worry about parking and can get there with their family.
The pair said they would add gear to keep rides warm during the off-season on the coast. The real push is that locals use it as much as visitors, if not more.
Why golf carts?
As the app improves and the business grows with more businesses subscribing, they hope to add a fourth golf cart. All run on electricity and solar energy.
“Golf carts are great because you feel free,” Adams said. “Feel the wind blowing over you. We have music, it’s just different and it makes it more enjoyable.
The City of Destin allows certain styles of golf carts, which are considered Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs), on local roads.
“From a public safety perspective, it is extremely important that the public be informed about what can and cannot be legally and safely driven on the road. LSVs are state-licensed vehicles that feature additional safety components, unlike standard golf carts, which do not.
If we just refer them to golf carts, it shows that they are legal and safe to use on the roads and crossing Highway 98. The city did their due diligence as well as the county sheriff’s office. Okaloosa to educate the public.
City of Destin Public Information Office
How it works:
“You will download our Destin Harbor Haulers app,” Stern said. “It will give a step by step process. You’ll create your profile and simply follow the in-app instructions to request rides to sponsored locations. Once the driver arrives, you will give your OTP code to the driver to verify that it is the correct driver. You’ll jump on it and you can enjoy a good chat with your driver on the way to your restaurant.”
For the busy Labor Day weekend, anyone can get the app and use it from any public parking lot or anywhere within the coverage area.
On the business side, the service charges an annual rate divided into monthly payments. For more information on becoming a drop off point, contact the owners.
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