Vacationing on the Best Beaches of the Emerald Coast is vacationing on some of the best beaches of Florida, and of the world! Florida has about 1,100 miles of beach, more than any other state. Some say that Florida’s beaches are the best of the best. The Emerald Coast of Florida has sand that has been described as “shockingly fine” and so clean it squeaks underfoot. The water is emerald green and with the clear blue sky and white sand, it’s paradise!
There are five beachfront parks and 12 beach access ways along the Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island coastline. Services vary among each beach, but all have the beautiful sugar-white sand and pristine emerald-green water. One of the most popular stretches of beach is Henderson Beach State Park. Here you can swim, fish, go biking, camp and walk along the nature trail. In autumn you will see an array of color with morning glory blanketing the beach and other colorful wildflowers.
Another favorite is James Lee County Park, especially for families. The water is shallow and clear, and there are plenty of picnic tables and ample parking. There is a great local place to eat called the Crab Trap restaurant in the parking lot.
On Okaloosa Island, you can head to John Beasley Beach Park where you can snorkel, fish, do some surfing, and of course just hang out at the beach. Here you will also find volleyball games that you can join in. Right next door is Newman Brackin Beach Park where you can also find some great restaurants, souvenir shops, and much more along the boardwalk. There is also a playground for the kids. The best beaches of the Emerald Coast are:
Destin beaches have stunning white beaches and world famous fishing. Destin is famous for its sugar-white sands and emerald-hued waters, and also known as the “world’s luckiest fishing village.” In Destin you will also find world-class resorts and rentals with some of the best shopping and dining anywhere. Destin is a popular vacation spot with beautiful hotels and resorts that the whole family will enjoy. The west side of Destin Pass is accessable to the public and offers a great place to view native birds and the pituresque sand dunes. The beach is remote and beautiful and offers a place to getaway from crowds. Fishing and boating, as well as other water sports are popular activities with the Destin Pass offering easy access to the Gulf of Mexico. For Destin and the area travel planning, visit our Destin Travel Guide here.
Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park has pristine white sugar sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of shoreline with emerald green waters on the Gulf of Mexico. There are boardwalks which provide access to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. There are six pavilions for picnicking and grilling. A children’s playground is the first stop on the nature trail which provides visitors a glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife and is also pet friendly. Henderson Beach State Park provides 60 campsites that are located in the secondary dune system. These campsites include water and electric hookups and access to air conditioned and heated bathhouse facilities. A separate beach access boardwalk with outdoor showers is included in the campground. Visitors at Henderson Beach State Park can enjoy truly breathtaking sunsets while relaxing by the warm crystal clear water of the Gulf of Mexico. For Destin and the area travel planning, visit our Destin Travel Guide here.
Shores at Crystal Beach Public Access and Park
Crystal Beach is located directly south from the Destin Commons, visitors often say the Crystal beach areas are among the most scenic beaches they’ve encountered. There is public beach access with a pavilion, restrooms, showers, parking lot and street parking. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for a cost during the summer. This small beach boasts great fishing and fabulous sunrises and sunsets. Activities include Crystal Beach Florida include swimming, shelling, snorkeling, sandcastle construction, fishing and kayaking. The sunrises and sunsets are beautiful, and you can fabulous food if you happen to love fish cooked by pros. For Destin and the area travel planning, visit our Destin Travel Guide here.
Miramar Beach is on Old Highway 98 in S. Walton County and is worth a visit to see one of Florida’s greatest treasures. This is a quiet beach where you can bring the whole family to sun, swim, snorkel, play in the sand or just walk along the beautiful shoreline. Visit this beach neighborhood’s colorful shops and eclectic eateries; stay in a family-friendly resort or private beachfront home. Try a paddle boarding lesson, or find the perfect accessory at one of Miramar Beach’s hundreds of designer and name-brand stores. Start and end each day with a beautiful view of the sun shining against Miramar Beach’s emerald-green water. For Destin and the area travel planning, visit our Destin Travel Guide here.
Grayton Beach ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. Grayton beach provides an idyllic setting for swimming, sunbathing and surf fishing and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The beach is fairly private and frequented by locals who live in this small beachfront community. The nearly 2,000-acre park features a boat ramp for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. There is a nature trail which winds through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias stand. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy more than four miles of trails throughout the pine flat woods. Options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full-facility campground. For Destin and the area travel planning, visit our Destin Travel Guide here.
Fort Walton Area Beaches
The charming little town of Ft. Walton Beach is a favorite of families seeking not just to “get away” but to “get to” something truly wonderful. Here you’ll find a quaint seaside downtown area with interesting shops and museums chock-full of fun and local history. When the sun goes down on Ft. Walton Beach, the volume goes up. You’ll have your pick of an eclectic group of restaurants as well as other exciting nightlife. For Fort Walton and the area beaches travel planning, visit our For Walton Beach Vacation Guide here.
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach is located across the bridge from Destin and Okaloosa Island and is located on the Inter-Coastal Waterway and on the Choctawhatchee Bay.Fort Walton Beach is one of the top destinations on the Emerald Coast. There are lots of things to do at Fort Walton Beach, many of which are water sports and activities. Fort Walton Beach offers powdery white beaches, emerald waters, enjoyable golf courses, and much more. Fort Walton Beach boasts all the fun of the major vacation spots, minus the fuss. Home to family-friendly resorts and attractions such as parks, museums and aquariums, it’s not just the calm, green waters and cool, white sand that make this northwest Florida destination a family favorite. For Fort Walton and the area beaches travel planning, visit our For Walton Beach Vacation Guide here.
Beautiful white sand beach on Okaloosa Island. The beach is open to the public 24 hours a day for no cost. Parking is free, and usually there is enough for everybody who wants to come. There are no cars or dogs allowed on the beach. A boardwalk with shops, restaurants and nightclubs separate the beach from the parking area. The beach has public restrooms, a couple of playground areas for kids and showerheads for rinsing sand off when you are done. The Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier and Gulfarium are nearby as well. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer season for most of the day. Glass containers are not allowed, and Okaloosa County Deputies patrol the beach regularly. For Fort Walton and the area beaches travel planning, visit our For Walton Beach Vacation Guide here.
John Beasley Park
Located just a few feet off of the boardwalk on the Gulf of Mexico, just a splash east of Wayside Park, John Beasley Park a restaurant, beach club, playground, and beach volleyball court. Activities include snorkeling, fishing, and even a little surfing. John Beasley Park is one of the best places to get to know the Emerald Coast. The sand and water are beautiful, parking is simple, and a covered pavilion offers shaded picnic areas, freshwater showerheads, and restrooms. It is also a great place to bird, even in the middle of the day. For Fort Walton and the area beaches travel planning, visit our For Walton Beach Vacation Guide here.
A compact beach community found just east of Pensacola at the far northwestern tip of the state, Navarre beckons with 12 miles of pristine white shoreline. Nestled between Gulf Islands National Seashore and Navarre Beach County Park, this beach community offers solitude and simplicity. Its pristine beaches are named among the best in the nation year after year, and visitors compare crossing Navarre Bridge to transcending paradise time and time again. And so, relaxation is the main attraction here. Visitors can sun on the beach, swim in emerald waters, enjoy a picnic in the park or pedal along a scenic bike path. For Navarre and the area beaches travel planning, visit our Navarre Florida Travel Guide Here.
The Navarre Beach has been described as pristine, protected and untouched. There are no words to describe the shades of blue and green just beyond the surf. The sands here are white and fine like confectioner’s sugar. It is one of only ten beaches in the nation protected as a National Seashore. Fish from the pier, dive into a marine park, and experience the 360 degree beauty of the barrier island. Navarre Beach is fairly undeveloped and most activities consist of water sports and activities such as swimming, jet skiing, surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving. You’ll be drawn to this beach! For Navarre and the area beaches travel planning, visit our Navarre Florida Travel Guide Here.
Santa Rosa Day Use Area, Opal Beach, located just east of Pensacola Beach, Florida, is one of the most popular places to spend a summer day at Gulf Islands National Seashore. The area is open daily and there is an entrance fee for this area. At the area, visitors can see wildlife including birds and sea turtles, picnic, swim. The beaches are open daily from 8 AM to sunset. There are no trash cans, so you must take all of your trash with you. No glass containers and no pets are allowed on the beaches. For Navarre and the area beaches travel planning, visit our Navarre Florida Travel Guide Here.
On Pensacola Beach, they’re proud to offer endless opportunities for fun and relaxation. Enjoy our fresh gulf seafood or a Bushwacker at our many restaurants and hangouts, take a walk or catch a fish on the Pensacola Beach Pier, or simply relax in the sun and watch your worries float away. Whether your wish is for solitude – a solitary, sunset scroll down a swath of nearly deserted beach – or for being part of the ongoing celebration that defines the season on Pensacola Beach, we have something for every mood and feeling. For Pensacola and the area beaches travel planning, visit Penacola Beach Florida travel guide here.
Pensacola Beach is on Santa Rosa Island with 52 miles of white sand beaches. On Pensacola Beach you can go fishing, boating, swimming, collecting seashells and just exploring in general. One summer month activity is sea turtle watching. Sea turtles nest on the beaches here and they are fascinating to observe, but you must never disturb one or her nest. At 1471 feet long, the pier is one of the longest piers in the Gulf of Mexico. Fishing from the pier is its main attraction, and you can see all kinds of sea life too like dolphins, manatee, rays, sharks and various types of crab. The white sand beaches around the pier are an irresistible place to stop, relax and enjoy the world around you. If you’re a fisherman, you can get everything you need to spend the day right here at the tackle shop on the beginning of the pier. You can buy bait, tackle, coolers, carts, food and beverages; you can even rent a rod. If you’re not fishing, just take a stroll down the pier, grab a bench and enjoy one of the spectacular sunsets. For Pensacola and the area beaches travel planning, visit Penacola Beach Florida travel guide here.
Tucked away on a narrow strip of land on the extreme western edge of Florida lies Perdido Key, a barrier island bookmarked by rolling, white-sand dunes and stunning views of the calm Gulf waters on its southern border and abundant wetlands, estuaries, and wildlife to its north. Spanish for “lost island,” Perdido features several world-renowned parks, including Johnson Beach at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Perdido Key State Park, and Big Lagoon State Park. For Pensacola and the area beaches travel planning, visit Penacola Beach Florida travel guide here.
Panama City Beaches
Featuring 27 miles of white sand beaches along the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach is home to two State Parks, dozens of public beach access points, waterfront restaurants that serve up fresh local seafood, and legendary attractions. The waters here are famous with fishermen and scuba divers who enjoy the benefits of dozens artificial reefs located offshore, and with a coastline that angles slightly toward the west, in Panama City Beach you can watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico every day of the year. Go Here To Visit Our Panama City Florida Tourism Guide
Panama City Beach
Panama Beach is a great place to bring the family. You can enjoy all kinds of water sports and boating here, all the while the fishing is second to none. If you scuba dive, there are many sunken ships off the coast here to explore. When you’re ready to relax, just claim a patch on one of the white sand beaches and let the world float away. Few cities offer as much to do after dark as before it, but Panama City Beach is one of those places. After a day on the beach and a delicious, fresh seafood dinner, put on your party clothes and check out the nightlife at one of the local hot spots. Go Here To Visit Our Panama City Florida Tourism Guide
A favorite spot for locals and visitors alike, Shell Island is an approximately 7-mile long undeveloped barrier island running east to west between the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrew Bay. Here you’ll find Florida at its most natural, where graceful sand dunes, coastal scrub forest, pine hammocks, and an inland lake provide the perfect home for deer, nesting shorebirds, and all manner of coastal creatures, including ghost crabs and endangered species such as Choctawhatchee Beach Mice, piping plovers, snowy plovers, and loggerhead and green sea turtles. Go Here To Visit Our Panama City Florida Tourism Guide
Less than an hour’s drive from Panama City Beach, Mexico Beach is on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico but miles from anything else. There are no high rises to block your view of sand dunes and sea oats as you drive along scenic Highway 98. You may stop for a family of beachgoers crossing the road, but no traffic lights will bring you to a halt. Just find a place to pull over and stroll down to the beach! This little town offers a small selection of hotels, but boasts unlimited possibilities for swimming, kayaking, fishing, recreational diving, eco-tours or just relaxing. When it’s time to eat, if you haven’t caught your own dinner, visit one of the many restaurants, either on the beach or across the street. When you are in Mexico Beach, you are always within walking distance of the water. Go Here To Visit Our Panama City Florida Tourism Guide
Rick Seltzer Park
The S. Richard Seltzer Park provides public beach access with adequate parking, preserves a representative area of undeveloped beach and provides a site for environmental education. The park is 4.75 acres with 850 feet fronting Thomas Drive and a 170 foot gulf front dune system preservation with an emphasis on interpretive displays to increase the public’s awareness of beach/dune dynamics. With a variety of restaurants and shopping nearby, and no high-rises on either side, you really feel like you have the whole beach to yourself. You do not need to reserve the park for special events – availability is first-come, first-served. The park is open from daylight to dusk. Go Here To Visit Our Panama City Florida Tourism Guide
St Andrews State Park
Well-known for its sugar white sands and emerald green waters, this former military reservation has over one-and-a-half miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and canoeing. Two fishing piers, a jetty, and a boat ramp provide ample fishing opportunities for anglers. Two nature trails wind through a rich diversity of coastal plant communities – a splendid opportunity for bird-watching. Those wanting to relax can sunbathe on the beach or enjoy a leisurely lunch under the shade of a picnic pavilion. A campground for RVers and tent campers, as well as a primitive group camping area, make this park a popular overnight destination. A concession offers snacks, souvenirs and fishing amenities. Go Here To Visit Our Panama City Florida Tourism Guide
Santa Rosa Beaches (South Walton)
In South Walton, we know that everyone’s “perfect” is different. Sharing the same sugar-white sand and turquoise water, our 16 distinct beach neighborhoods offer variety to suit any vision of the ideal getaway. Founded in 1910, Santa Rosa Beach has a rich history. This long-standing vacation destination remains a hotspot for visitors years later — in fact, Santa Rosa Beach was recently named as one of Travel + Leisure’s Top 5 Favorite Towns in America. Santa Rosa Beach’s sugar-white sand and turquoise water draw in vacationers from around the world; retreats like Point Washington State Forest attract those searching for an all-natural escape. Delicious dining, boutique shopping, and family-friendly attractions round out this lively beach neighborhood. Go here to visit our Santa Rosa Beach Tourism page, to plan your beach travel to the Santa Rosa area.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Topsail Hill offers a wide variety of natural resources including 3.2 miles of secluded, white sand beaches with majestic dunes over 25 feet tall. Three rare coastal dune lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing. Although boats are not allowed, fishing from the shoreline yields bass, bream, panfish, and catfish. Lakes, pristine beaches, old-growth long leaf pines, sand pine scrub, and a variety of wetlands offer a bird-watching and hiking paradise. Visitors may bike, walk, or enjoy a quick ride to the beach on our timely tram service to swim, fish, sunbath, or beachcomb. Gregory E. Moore RV resort features a (non-heated) swimming pool and shuffleboard courts. Furnished bungalows are available for weekly stays. A camp store offers a variety of camping items, as well as souvenirs and rentals. Go here to visit our Santa Rosa Beach Tourism page, to plan your beach travel to the Santa Rosa area.
You’ll know exactly where you are when you enter Alys Beach – from its signature palm trees to its iconic butteries to its stunning white stucco architecture, Alys Beach makes a strong, stylish statement. Experience the high-end yet low-key feel of this beach neighborhood. Take a seat on a bench at one of Alys Beach’s many community green spaces; or, seek out some quiet time with a stroll along its stunning nature walk. This beach neighborhood includes a 20-acre nature preserve and celebrates its surroundings with winding trails, outdoor sculptures, and elegant landscapes. Whether you’re sitting on the sugar-white sand or strolling along a quiet sidewalk, Alys Beach always offers a beautiful view. Go here to visit our Santa Rosa Beach Tourism page, to plan your beach travel to the Santa Rosa area.
Here, neighbors share small talk from wide balconies and open patios; groups of young ones gather for games of tag on sprawling green lawns. Nearby restaurants are full of foodies trying out the chef’s latest seasonal dish; down the street, families sip hand-made sodas and milkshakes. Rosemary Beach is full of charm that draws visitors back again and again — which is just one reason why this beach neighborhood was named by CNN as one of America’s most romantic small towns. Come visit Rosemary Beach and let this destination sweep you off your feet. Go here to visit our Santa Rosa Beach Tourism page, to plan your beach travel to the Santa Rosa area.
Come explore Inlet Beach, one of South Walton’s most untouched beach neighborhoods. Here, it’s easy to spend a day daydreaming by the beach or strolling along the sand. Laid-back and carefree, the Inlet Beach community welcomes all. Cozy beach cottages mix with modern homes in this old-meets-new beach neighborhood; sweeping sand dunes shape the landscape in a memorable way. Inlet Beach hosts many restaurants that are loved by locals — stop by for a casual drink or dinner and feel right at home. Go here to visit our Santa Rosa Beach Tourism page, to plan your beach travel to the Santa Rosa area.
Gulf Breeze Beaches
Located across the bay from Pensacola, Gulf Breeze is great for snorkeling, hiking or birding at Gulf Islands National Seashore, a nationally protected park. The area also offers terrific seafood and inviting beaches. And don’t miss the 50-acre Gulf Breeze Zoo. It is home to some 1,000 animals, including giraffes, coatimundi, rhinoceroses, zebras, chimpanzees, gorillas, giant tortoises, squirrel monkeys, otters, alligators and hippopotamuses. Visitors are especially smitten by the zoo’s raised boardwalk that provides a vantage point for viewing herds of deer, wildebeest, ostrich, cape hunting dogs – and islands on which chimps and gorillas roam free. Go here to visit our Gulf Breeze Florida Travel Guide, to plan your beach travel to the Gulf Breeze Florida area.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Seashore provides endless opportunity for solitude and relaxation and miles of unobstructed views and access to the Gulf. A short hike, bike ride, or kayak trip always ensures a swath of beach, sans humans. For adventure seekers, the Seashore offers a wide range of recreational activities including snorkeling, kayaking, boating, fishing, wildlife viewing, biking, camping, fort tours, ranger-led programs and more. Launch your kayak from one of several ocean side parking lots and make your own itinerary. Watch for the gopher tortoise, Atlantic bottle nose dolphin, and more than 300 bird species. Snorkel to see sand dollars, starfish, crabs and fish. Join a ranger-led nature tour to explore life in the brackish marshes or hidden in the shade of tall pines and gnarled live oaks. Go here to visit our Gulf Breeze Florida Travel Guide, to plan your beach travel to the Gulf Breeze Florida area.
Surrounded by Santa Rosa Sound, Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico is breathtaking for visitors of Okaloosa Island. This barrier island between Ft. Walton Beach and Destin is famous for pristine beaches, water sports and awesome family attractions. Come play beach volleyball on sand so clean it squeaks underfoot. Laugh with the sea lions at the world’s oldest, continuously operating live marine show. Land a big one from the 1,261-foot-long fishing pier. Find out for yourself why families return here year after year, generation after generation, to build memories in the sand. Go here to visit our Okaloosa Island Travel Guide, to plan your beach travel to the Okaloosa Island area.
Crab Island is part beach, part swimming pool, and part tailgate party. It’s truly an experience you will rarely find anywhere outside of Destin, and something you should try. The only way to reach Crab Island is via boat. If you don’t own a boat, you can rent a pontoon boat from a number of rental properties around Destin. Get one for the day, fill it with beer and food until it nearly sinks, grab a dozen friends and drop anchor at Crab Island. You’ll spend the day walking around in beautiful waist-deep water, eating, drinking, listening to music and enjoying the local flavor. Go here to visit our Okaloosa Island Travel Guide, to plan your beach travel to the Okaloosa Island area.