Are you familiar with Destin, Florida? In a nutshell, Destin is paradise. It’s, therefore, no surprise that Destin Beach Tourism announced in 2017 that Destin was named by the US News & World Report as the number one beach in town in the state of Florida.
Its emerald-colored warm waters coupled with white-as-snow quartz are unbeatable. So if you’re on the quest for fun in Florida, then your search ends here. No doubt you have heard about popular ideas like getting to Crab Island, but what about the beaches the locals love to keep a secret?
Without further ado, let’s explore the best Destin Florida beaches that you don’t want to miss out on!
1. Navarre Beach: Less Crowded but a Bit of a Drive
If you’re on the quest for a largely undiscovered beach town that allows you to linger on pristine beaches without crowds but no qualms with the drive, then Navarre beach is right up your alley. You can go on picnics, stroll along a massive pier as you spot a dolphin or two.
Renowned as one of the most relaxing beach vacation destinations in the southeast, this beach in the northwest Florida Panhandle delivers mesmerizing panoramic views of the Santa Rosa Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.
Kick-off, your holiday in Navarre Beach with a free day to wander and soak up the natural beauty you’ll undoubtedly find. Take in the sunset as you stroll on the crystal, soft, white-sand shores. You can also rent a scooter and dedicate a day to ride along the seashore.
Upon selecting your bike or scooter, you can head out for a memorable, scenic ride through the Gulf Islands National Seashore. You can visit Opal Beach in the Santa Rosa area of the Gulf Islands. It came about in 1995 after the Opal Hurricane swept through the area. There’s also the option to stroll along the Navarre Beach Pier and explore the area’s sights and sounds.
Famous for being the longest pier in Florida, it stretches for 1545 feet and stands tall at 30 feet above the water. If you want to snorkel, Navarre Beach has three artificial reefs: the East Sound, West Sound, and Gulf Side. These reeds are situated right next to the shore of the Santa Rosa Sound and the Gulf of Mexico, allowing you to embark on a snorkeling adventure and see a multitude of sea creatures.
Forming part of the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary, the reefs serve as an easy option for avid snorkelers to enjoy the sights of marine life. If snorkeling doesn’t tickle your fancy, you have the alternative of taking a clear bottom kayak excursion of the Gulf Side Reef. If you’re up for even more excitement, rent a jet ski to take in some awesome scenery with a side of adrenaline.
2. Miramar Beach: Near Retail Stores and Great Restaurants
A getaway to Miramar Beach compares to a stroll down memory lane through the beach towns of your childhood. As a South Walton neighborhood, it rekindles the feel of those classic coastal enclaves. You can delight in beach volleyball spend your nights and days exploring a vast assortment of dining options or antique shopping.
On the beach, you’ll run into fellow beach lovers basking and soaking up the sun, thrill-seekers that are embarking on parasailing for sky-high views of the turquoise water and sparkling white sand, or jet skiing. If you have a larger crowd, renting a pontoon boat is a great way to take it all in.
For shopaholics, Miramar Beach is a retail paradise, from Silver Sands Premium Outlets. It boasts over 100 retail stores that feature name-brand designers, a kid’s play area, and a boatload of restaurants. Nearby is an upscale outdoor lifestyle center known as Grand Boulevard that showcases Williams Sonoma, Hemline, Anthropologie, Lilly Pulitzer, Chubbies, Lululemon, and other brands.
Cinema fans go to the New Vision Theatres Boulevard 10 in droves, where Ovation Club lovers can relish drinks and food coupled with their movie-going experience. Staying active in Miramar Beach is a breeze due to the swimming, tennis, and golf facilities. You can also enjoy a morning or evening run or cycling along the three-mile Scenic Highway 98 Trail.
Tennis is done at the award-winning Hidden Dunes Beach & Tennis Resort. In addition to a broad range of instruction options from their USPTA teaching staff, the facility has six championship clay courts.
The dining options in Miramar Beach vary from American and Greek to other cuisines in between. Culinary gems await discovery at every stop. The Grand Boulevard provides a wide range of restaurants from which you can take your pick, such as the Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Emeril’s Coastal Italian, The Craft Bar, and Vin’tij Food & Wine. See this related post for a full list of the best kid friendly places to eat in Destin.
If you gravitate more towards beachfront dining, then Pompano Joe’s and The Surf Hut are renowned for their fresh, palatable seafood. Both of these are well liked by the crew at Destiny.
3. Henderson Beach State Park- Short Drive from Destin In Between Okaloosa Island and Harbor Walk
Pristine sugar-white sandy beaches along with over 6000 feet of scenic shoreline border the mesmerizing emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Henderson Beach State Park’s natural features range from dune rosemary and sand pines to scrub oaks. The boardwalks usher in access to the beach for fishing, swimming, and sunbathing. It’s also well known that this is a great place to see dolphins. Two small and four large pavilions facilitate grilling and picnicking. Read this post for more on the best times of year to see dolphins in the Destin area.
Guaranteed to be a hit with children, the nature trail has a playground. When you follow the nature trail, you’ll realize it provides a unique glimpse of the abundant wildlife and coastal dune ecosystem. It’s also pet-friendly.
Camping at Henderson Beach State Park means you have 60 campsites to choose from, all of which are located in the secondary dune system. They include heated bathhouse facilities, electric and water hookups, and access to air-conditioned facilities.
The campsites also have a separate beach access boardwalk with a playground and outdoor showers. Henderson Beach has ADA accessibility as it includes the availability of beach wheelchairs. You can truly revel in eye-catching sunsets as you relax by the warm crystal clear water of the Gulf of Mexico.
4. Holiday Isle: In the Heart of Destin Walking Distance to Most Hotels
Butting up to downtown Destin and the Destin Harbor, the Holiday Isle acquired its name for good reason. The 3-mile long peninsula relishes pristine beaches bordered by sidewalks with a plethora of gazebos in addition to public beach access. Any vacationer will see it as a more serene way to delight in the breathtaking Gulf of Mexico. There’s minimal traffic, and golf carts are the go-to mode of transportation.
The captivating Holiday Isle Park situated on the west side of the peninsula is every photographer’s dream, boater’s heaven, and beach bum’s paradise. The public boat access is undoubtedly a hotspot for a multitude of people in Destin. Families spend entire weekends viewing the emerald waters of the Gulf, the harbor, and the jetties from this natural, spectacular development. The sunsets are nothing short of stunning, and the dolphins are a frequent sight from the breathtaking white shores.
5. Norriego Point: It’s Only Accessible by Boat but Is a boaters Paradise Located In the Heart of the Destin Harbor
From downtown Destin on the opposite side of the harbor is the Holiday Isle narrowing to a beaming sandy peninsula at its northwestern end, the Norriego Point. It’s undoubtedly one of the most alluring beachfront in the area.
Its dune-edged, expansive sands front quiet waters that are perfect for a dip, taking in the sights of waterfront scenery such as passing boats, and typically, you’ll have some elbow room to boot.
At the time, the Norriego Point public beach park is undergoing a major renovation that, coupled with essential stabilization work, will considerably expand and enhance the recreational facilities, with drinking fountains, a pavilion, habitat enhancement, bike racks, restrooms, a boardwalk, showers, a new, bigger parking area, dune crossovers, and interpretive environmental signage, all in the offing.
The eastern side of the public beach park is situated along Destin Harbor, with the western shores overlooking East Pass. This channel divides the Santa Rosa Island and Destin Peninsula to the west and links the Choctawhatchee Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.
Although accessing it entails taking the Gulf Shore Drive to its endpoint, keep in mind that you must be prepared for some sand trudging or by taking the Destin Water Taxi that has a stop at this point. Norriego Point is an excellent place to enjoy a swim, lounge, beach-comb, and stroll, more so, along the East Pass shore.
Regarding safety, lifeguards are always on duty during the peak season. Moreover, Norriego Point is an ideal spot for kayaking, paddle-boarding, and snorkeling. If bird-watching is right up your alley, you’ll be chuffed at the opportunity to observe amazing feathered denizens of the seashore, such as the blue herons and the high-diving osprey. Check out this article for more on the best time of year to visit and other vacation tips.
From this white-sand vantage, you can spot bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life. The scenery of the East Pass (Highway 98) Bridge, Harbor Walk Village with bustling boat traffic, and the rest of the waterfront is magnificent. It’s an incredible perch for appreciating the Emerald Coast sunset.
Well-appreciated by people in the know, Norriego Point is usually relatively less crowded than other beach hotspots in Destin. If the thought of a sugar-sand sun-worshipping session or serene beach walk sparks a smile, then a getaway to Norriego Point is just what the doctor ordered. We hope this guide has helped you plan the best places to stay if you want easy access to these great beaches, whether you choose one of Destin’s great hotels or find an awesome Airbnb.