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. Read our Okaloosa Island Travel Guide, and find all information righ here to plan you vacation now. Visit the area beaches on Okaloosa Island and along the Emerald Coast.
Okaloosa Island Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Okaloosa Island is between mid-September and October when both spring breakers and family vacationers have departed the city, leaving the beaches, attractions and restaurants devoid of peak season crowds. The weather is still moderate this time of year, and the risk of hurricanes wanes, too. The late fall and winter months of November through February are considered low season, with dropping temperatures and room rates. Heavy crowds of students and families swarm the city and its beaches in peak season’s early spring and summer to take advantage of the prime beach weather.
Top Okaloosa Island Attractions
Okaloosa Island Boardwalk
Spending all day at the beach is easy at the Boardwalk. There’s a pier, picnic areas, restaurants, shops, and even volleyball nets, everything is just a short walk in the sand. Pick up a kite to fly, get some beach toys, shop for some coastal clothes and souvenirs, all at the boardwalk shops. There are also plenty of restaurants on the boardwalk.
Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier
Take a stroll down the fishing pier, where sea turtles and dolphins gather as gulls circle overhead. Watch fishermen cast their lines and reel in their catches. Herons hover nearby hoping to snag an easy snack. You can also rent poles and buy fish and tackle. The pier provides your fishing license for everyone who pays the daily fishing fee.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park offers up-close and hands-on encounters with aquatic animals. Tour the exhibits, starting with a windowed floor-to-ceiling tank of dolphins at the door. Touch starfish and sea urchins, or have graceful stingrays “fly” by under your fingertips. There is a bird sanctuary and for reptile lovers, there are lizards, snakes and turtles. You can also feed and play with the dolphins, sea lions and more.
Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone lets you fly like a Pterosaur on a reverse bungee trampoline and climb to the treetops on a 60-foot-high ropes course. The largest family entertainment center in Northwest Florida, it also features a spinning roller coaster, remote-control battle boats, laser maze, 4D movie theater and a 16,000-square-foot arcade with more than 65 of the latest high-tech games.
John C Beasley Park
John C Beasley Park is the perfect place to get to know the beaches, Gulf waters, dunes, wildflowers, and wildlife of Okaloosa Island. Overhangs provide shaded picnic spots, while restrooms and freshwater shower heads are available for rinsing off. Short boardwalks, including a handicap ramp, take you to the beach itself, while Indian Blanket and Dune Sunflowers bloom near the parking area. The waters here are emerald green, and can be absolutely calm or provide fun waves, depending on the weather.
Things To Do in Okaloosa Island
Destiny Water Adventures
They’re a full service water sport excursion that gives you unlimited access to a wide array of water sport toys including jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks, mini-water park, as well as many other activities. Food and drinks are also included. They also offer wave runners, pontoons, kayaks, SUP and fly boarding. Telephone: 850-503-7607 Web: Destiny Water Adventures
Cattywampus Eco Tours
Enjoy unique eco cruises off the shores of beautiful Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, and Destin aboard the power Cattywampus catamaran. They offer some of the best sights and experiences with their catamaran cruise. Whether you are in Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, Destin or surrounding areas, the Cattywampus catamaran is the perfect vessel for an unforgettable experience. Telephone: 850-586-0450 Web: Cattywampus Eco Tours.
Fort Walton Beach Parasail
Parasailing is a wonderful way to see the Island and a great way to highlight your vacation experience. Fly high and see the entire area, add a banana boat ride and do a combo, with photo packages available as well. Telephone: 850-438-5555 Web: Fort Walton Beach Parasail.
Destin Airboat Tours
Ride along the shore of Choctawhatchee Bay & Santa Rosa Sound aboard PUC DAT, their Diamondback 15 passenger airboat! Ages 2 thru 11 – $25 Ages 12 & over – $45 Discount Coupons available @ Fudpucker’s. Weather and seas permitting they offer daily departures. Telephone: 850-461-9585 Web: Destin Airboat Tours.
Fuddpuckers Watersports is the perfect place for riders of all levels and ages. Never attempted a water sport? Not to worry! Their mission is to ensure that our customers have a fun day out on the boat, whether it is swimming, inner tubing, or just sun bathing. They are there to make sure that you have to great time out on the water. Telephone: 850-424-7625 Web: Fuddpuckers Watersports.
Top Okaloosa Island Restaurants
Old Bay Steamer $31 – 60
Old Bay Steamer is an independent, locally owned and operated seafood restaurant in Fort Walton Beach FL. They opened in 1995 on Okaloosa Island just in time for Hurricane Erin. Shortly thereafter, Hurricane Opal delivered a spectacular smack down. Against all odds and pathetic customer counts, they did not perish. Word of mouth and local support, has been the foundation of their success. The Place for Steamed Seafood in Ft Walton Beach FL : Maine Lobster Tails • King Crab • Snow Crab • Royal Red Shrimp • Clams • Mussels • Oysters. Telephone: 850-664-2795 Web: Old Bay Steamer.
Soi Bistro $11 – 30
The healthy alternative, Soi Bistro features an inventive and traditional mix of sushi paired with the largest selection of sake. Prepared with the freshest ingredients, they offer a dining experience full of creative flavors, combined with a casual relaxed atmosphere. Indulge in our signature rolls or Asian inspired dishes. Telephone: 850-586-7645 Web: Soi Bistro.
Blue Collar Cafe $Under 10
Fresh-baked goods, yummy breakfast (their maple bacon makes life better; trust us) and mouth-watering deli sandwiches! Go and try Marc’s famous scratch-made bagels–or even better, get a B.O.B. (Breakfast on a Bagel). A selection of fresh gourmet coffee; beans roasted in-house! Telephone: 850-586-7211 Web: Blue Collar Cafe.
Marina Cafe $31 – 50
Take a drive to Destin and head to the wonderful Marina Café. At Destin’s most awarded restaurant, Marina Café, it is all about sensational food, attentive service and breathtaking harbor views from the candlelit dining room that envelopes you in soft colors, and high ceilings. Relax and enjoy their extensive wine collection with over 100 wines that perfectly complement the wonderfully progressive cuisine. With fresh daily seafood selections, USDA prime steaks, pastas, sushi and wood-fired pizzas, there is something for everyone at Marina Café. Telephone: 850-837-7960 Web: Marina Café.
Louisiana Lagniappe $11 – 30
Another great Destin restaurant. In 1984, Louisiana Lagniappe in Destin was opened and established inside Sandpiper Cove condominiums. A loyal following was quickly established, in no small part, to the quality of the food and the attention to detail of the service. Since then, Louisiana Lagniappe has consistently served only the freshest seafood and steaks. The Gulf seafood is prepared with a Creole flair, the attire is casual, yet an upscale waterfront dining experience is provided for the entire family. Telephone: 850-837-0881 Web: Louisiana Lagniappe.
Best Okaloosa Island Bars & Nightlife
Angler’s Beach Side Grill
Delicious seafood, burgers, steaks, and various entrees and appetizers with a beachfront view overlooking the gulf of Mexico! They range from fresh shucked oysters from Apalachicola, fresh caught grouper and mahi- mahi, to well prepared rib eyes and mouth-watering steak filets. Their beach baskets have big portions that are suitable for a king! While you’re there try their signature beach freeze frozen drink (strawberry daiquiri, pina colada, blue raspberry – all mixed into one drink!) maybe a margarita or a delicious Bloody Mary. They have quite the assortment of beers on tap ranging from your regular domestics to their local brews. Telephone: 850-796-0260 Web: Angler’s Beach Side Grill.
The Crab Trap
The Crab Trap is the perfect place to begin or end your day at the beach. Serving local favorites such as Hot Crab Dip, Seafood Gumbo, and daily specials ranging from Grilled Sirloin to Alaskan Crab Legs, The Crab Trap has something for everyone. The kids will love the special menu designed just for them. Telephone: 850-301-0959 Web: The Crab Trap.
They offer their patrons a variety of experiences – a restaurant, a wine bar, beach dining, a summer-time Tiki Beach Bar, deep water and beach docking plus live music on Thursdays and special events. Telephone: 850-664-0035 Web: Giovanni’s One89.
Rick’s Crab Trap
They offer fresh seafood straight from the Gulf, as well as other favorites, shipped to us fresh. Add in tasty appetizers, fresh salads, great sandwiches and wraps, plus lots of steamed, fried, and broiled entrees. They have something for every taste. In addition to being a family restaurant, and a full service bar, they also LOVE sports. Every night you will find the game on one of their dozen or more TV’s From NFL, NCAA, MLB , NHL and NBA, to soccer from the world stage, they have the sports you are looking for. Telephone: 850-664-0110 Web: Rick’s Crab Trap.
McGuire’s Irish Pub
McGuire’s Irish Pub first opened in 1977 as a small neighborhood pub in a shopping center. In 1982 McGuire’s moved to its current location; Pensacola’s original 1927 Old Firehouse. Inside the pub you’ll find a turn-of-the-century, New York Irish Saloon themed 615-seat restaurant. Telephone: 850-650-0000 Web: McGuire’s Irish Pub.
Best Okaloosa Island Hotels
Town Place Suites Fort Walton Beach
The only mid tier, pet friendly all suite extended stay property with full kitchens located in the Fort Walton/Eglin AFB area offering apartment living with the comfort of hotel amenities, services and breath taking water front views. Minutes away from world renowned sandy beaches , golf courses and within close proximity to various restaurants and shopping.
Holiday Inn Resort Fort Walton Beach
This hotel is perfect not just for family vacations, but for romantic getaways, meetings and events, and business travel. We have the best pool in the area with a lazy river, waterfall, and hot tub as well as an an indoor pool, American Grill, pool bar, family suites, supervised children’s activities, ‘Dive-Inn’ movies, interactive pirate and mermaid shows, private beachfront balconies, 24 hour fitness center, 24 hour business center, free WiFi, and free parking.
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Fort Walton Beach
The La Quinta Inn & Suites, Fort Walton Beach awarded 2010 Inn Of The Year and recently named a 2011 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence award winner, is located less than one mile away from beautiful white sandy beaches. The La Quinta Inn & Suites is near plenty of fun activities nearby including water sports, boating, waterparks, fishing excursions shopping outlets and golfing.
Best Western Ft. Walton Beachfront
The Best Western Ft. Walton Beachfront hotel boasts luxurious amenities, on-site entertainment and close proximity to exciting activities. This boutique-style hotel adds a touch of class to the traditional Best Western family-friendly atmosphere. Hotel amenities include an on-site outdoor pool with adjacent cabana bar and meeting facilities. Every guest room is decorated in a stylish art deco design and boasts extras such as free high-speed Internet access, microwave and refrigerator.
Hilton Garden Inn Fort Walton Beach
The Hilton Garden Inn Ft. Walton Beach hotel is located on Okaloosa Island, with coastal views. Our warm, inviting guest rooms provide a great base for your beach side vacation. Experience our Lazy river with rock waterfalls, heated indoor pool and a beachfront hot tub. Guests can also enjoy on-site dining at our restaurant and bar.