Are you planning a beach vacation in the Florida Panhandle and looking for beaches in Destin, Florida? Read on to explore!
Perched on the Emerald Coast of Florida, Destin is a popular destination owing to its sugary white sand beaches and emerald green waters. From elusive stretches of beach paradise like Crystal Beach to family-friendly public beaches like Henderson Beach State Park and James Lee Park, Destin’s beaches are calling you. They offer endless water sports like swimming, snorkeling, jet skiing, boating, and parasailing.
Also known as the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, Destin is a charming coastal city located along the beautiful shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico. The Destin area boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, a vibrant community, and a rich history.
I liked the beaches, but especially liked the diving in Destin!
The best thing about it is its convenient location. Destin is a 1-2 day drive from a large portion of the country, including the midwest, Texas, and northern parts of the Southeast. So if you’re looking for beautiful water, it is probably the closest you can get without flying.
Let’s grab your sunscreen, get ready to sink your toes in the beach in Destin, and find the perfect place to perch your umbrella.
Best Time to Visit the Beaches in Destin, Florida
Florida offers some of the best weather to plan a beach getaway. April and May are the best months to explore Destin beaches. From May to April, the sun is shining, the temperature is comfortable, and the water is warm. Remember that since it’s the busiest time of the year, most accommodations are more expensive than usual.
If you want to avoid the bustling crowds, June, July, and August are some of the best months to explore Destin beaches. Moreover, the city hosts exciting activities you and your family will love.
I was running from Hurricane Irma in September 2017 when this picture was taken, so it’s not exactly during a regular season. Still, though, the fall and winter can be great times to visit if you want beach time and aren’t worried as much about getting in the water. As you can see, I had the beach mostly to myself!
The winter months, though, are nice and cool, so even though the water may be too cold it’s a great time to be in Florida. Winter is also the slowest tourism season in Destin, when temperatures range from the mid-40s to the 60s.
Nestled between Crystal Beach and Destin, Henderson Beach State Park is a real gem in the Florida Panhandle. The wonderful park sprawls across 200 acres of Gulf Coast beachfront.
Henderson Beach State Park is known for its sugar-white sand, turquoise waters, and 30-foot coastal dunes. The water is so alluring that you can’t stop dipping your toes and body into its warm embrace.
Want a break from the beach? Put your hiking boots on and stroll along an idyllic trail. The Henderson Beach State Park trail is a great spot to go bird watching because it passes through some last remaining coastal scrub of Florida. At Henderson Beach State Park, you may also see local wildlife like tropical fish, dolphins, green sea turtles, and Loggerheads.
If you want a little break from the sun and sand, enjoy a picnic lunch in the pavilion or rinse off in the outdoor showers.
Located in South Walton, Miramar Beach is one of the more distinctive beach destinations near Destin with its beautiful elevated walkway. It is a little farther east, before Topsail Hill Preserve State Park but past James Lee Beach.
Miramar Beach is a bustling and fun place to hit the sand, with miles of coastline surrounded by large condo towers. The regional beach access point for Miramar Beach offers ADA-accessible restrooms, parking, and a flag showing the current surf conditions daily. You can bring your own beach umbrella and loungers or rent them from one of the numerous beach vendors.
It is a perfect spot for thrill seekers looking for an adventure like a parasailing ride or a jet ski trip. Rent one and cruise the ocean, looking for the biggest wave to jump off. Join parasailing to get an aerial view of the beach and the beautiful waters below.
Are you looking to escape the shoreline barrier island? A trip to Destin would be incomplete without a boat ride to Crab Island. The small sandbar is right off the coast of the HarborWalk Village and Harbor Boardwalk.
Crab Island is a haven of shallow water, making it a popular destination for boaters. The water is often two to three feet deep, depending on the tides, which makes it perfect for swimming and wading. Paddleboarding, floating, sunbathing, water volleyball, and having a good time are some of the best things to do on Crab Island. The busiest summer weekends offer an energetic ambiance with water games, music, and socializing.
Bring lunch if you want, but if not, don’t worry. Floating vendors serve anything from hot dogs, barbecue hamburgers, and pizza to ice cream cones.
From Destin, there is no public transport available to Crab Island. To enjoy the famous party scene on the Florida Emerald Coast island, you can either take a guided tour or rent a pontoon boat.
Destin offers visitors easy access to a state beach park, a county beach park, and several community beach parks. The Shores at Crystal Beach Park is one such city beach park. This large access point offers ample space to stretch out and enjoy Crystal Beach.
Located in eastern Destin, Crystal Beach is a charming beach town known for its relaxing atmosphere and pastel-colored beach houses. Even the name of the beach evokes a seaside utopia of relaxation under the shining Florida sun.
The public beach access points make it easy to get to the shoreline, where you’ll discover sugar-white sand and pristine waters. Crystal Beach offers plenty of areas for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball, making it an ideal location for an exciting day in the sun.
Unfortunately, parking is not nearly as plentiful; you must arrive early to get one of the few spaces available. The beach atmosphere is very low-key, with most beachgoers coming from condos, hotels, and vacation rentals located in the pleasant neighborhood behind. Crystal Beach, a good location for beach strollers, eventually merges with Henderson Beach State Park and James Lee Beach to the east.
If you are looking for a more natural experience and find Destin’s beaches to be a bit noisy, busy, or crowded, visit Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. This largest Florida State Park is located in Santa Rosa Beach. You can spend time alone on these 3.2 miles of stunning, deserted beaches, which are surrounded by large dunes and unexplored forests.
Located 14 miles east of Destin, Fluoride, this state park doesn’t attract many day trippers due to the requirement to walk, bike, or take the tram to reach the beach.
Camping at the state park is one of the most affordable ways to spend your vacation in Destin. Along with the campsites, there are 32 rental cabins and two luxurious glamping locations with plenty of amenities to make your vacation more comfortable. They also have 156 RV sites!
If you don’t mind putting in extra effort in exchange for your slice of sandy paradise, it’s the best place to go.
Are you dreaming of a relaxing and peaceful beach vacation but wondering what beaches are in Destin, Florida? Visit Blue Mountain Beach, a blend of relaxation and natural beauty.
Located between Panama City Beach and Destin, Blue Mountain Beach is named due to its distinctive blue lupine flowers blooming on the hillside and its location near South Walton’s highest point.
The beach is famous for its natural scenic beauty, iconic white sand beaches, and turquoise waters, much like the nearby Santa Rosa Beach.
The typical access method at most Florida Panhandle beaches is climbing up and over dunes. But on Blue Mountain Beach, you’ll have to descend a long set of stairs to reach the water. It will be a little tricky for you to transport all your equipment from the parking lot to the beach. So, plan properly and leave the heavy items at home.
Blue Mountain Beach is also famous among local visitors due to its amazing seafood restaurants. End your exciting beach day with shrimp tacos from Red Fish Tacos in the adjacent Redfish Village.
James Lee Park is one of the best beach destinations on the Emerald Coast and an ideal spot to surf and soak in the sun during your Destin vacation. Located in the community of Crystal Beach, James Lee Park is only a few minutes away from Destin Commons.
James Lee Beach is also known as Crab Trap Beach due to the famous seafood restaurant located nearby.
It’s one of the largest public beaches in Destin, Florida, and offers a myriad of amenities, including ample parking, picnic spaces, restrooms, covered pavilions, and more. If children get bored on the beach, a fully-equipped playground is just off the boardwalk. Playing in the shallow, clean water with your kids will be fun.
Parasailing is one of the most well-liked attractions at James Lee Park. If you are feeling adventurous, buckle on to enjoy a soothing breeze on your skin and the aerial views from above. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to observe some dolphins swimming alongside you!
John Beasley Park, located on Okaloosa Island in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, is one of the most popular family-friendly beaches near Destin. Top Okaloosa Island attractions, including Wayside Park, the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, and Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, are all within walking distance of the beachside park.
You’ll cherish not only the sugar sand beaches but also the wide list of amenities at John Beasley Park. Enjoy lunch with family at pavilions or picnic tables. You will also find a playground, a beach club, a volleyball court, and a restaurant.
In John Beasley Park, some of the most well-liked activities are surfing, fishing, and snorkeling. In addition, it’s an ideal spot for camping, hiking, and biking.
June White Decker Park, right on Scenic U.S. Highway 98, provides access to a small sandy stretch of Destin’s seashore bordered by hotels and condos. It stays open daily from sunrise until sunset. June White Decker Park is a charming waterfront park that provides an intimate beach experience.
The park has around 1,000 feet of shoreline, but it has a precious stretch of free public access to the Gulf of Mexico that is perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The private roped-off beaches of neighboring resorts and hotels border the park beach.
Due to its prime location, this small June White Decker Park beach can get crowded quickly. So, arrive at June White Decker Park early to beat the crowds or stake out your space. Or, if you visit later in the day, you’ll get to see a stunning sunset.
There are restrooms, outdoor showers, bike racks, and free parking. This park is ideal for a quick beach escape because it offers easy access to neighboring food and shopping options.
Navarre Beach, one of Florida’s most stunning white-sand beaches on the Gulf Coast, is well-known for its natural beauty. Located close to Pensacola, only a short drive from Destin, Navarre Beach is a memorable day trip to enjoy the coastal delights of Northwest Florida.
Navarre Beach is sandwiched between the gorgeous Gulf Islands National Seashore and Navarre Beach Marine Park.
Navarre Beach draws locals and tourists seeking tranquility, simplicity, and seclusion. The three artificial reefs at Navarre Beach are a favorite among snorkelers.
Navarre Beach is ideal for swimming in the emerald-colored surf, playing in the sun, unwinding on the sand, pedaling along the scenic bike path, or having a picnic. After enjoying the sand, sun, and water, stroll down the Navarre Beach Pier, Florida’s longest pier.
If you’re looking for even more adventure, rent a jet ski and enjoy the view with a dose of adrenaline.
If you’re boating in Destin and want to cool off, head to Norriego Point!
Located at the tip of Gulf Shower Drive on Holiday Isle in Destin, Norriego Point is a sugar-white sand peninsula. Norriego Point differs from other beach destinations in Destin as it is not located directly on the Gulf of Mexico; instead, one side is on the East Pass, and the other sits on Destin Harbor.
During the busiest season, lifeguards are always on duty for your protection. Norriego Point is also great for snorkeling, paddle boarding, and kayaking. From this white-sand vantage point, you can see sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, and other aquatic life. It’s a fantastic vantage point for admiring the Emerald Coast sunset.
Norriego Point is an ideal spot for swimming, lounging, beach combing, and strolling, particularly along the East Pass coast.
The Bottom Line
Destin, Florida, has some of the most stunning beaches in the country. These beaches offer tourists endless experiences, activities, and memories. Bring your beach basics to enjoy the soft sand, warm sun, and green water of these beautiful coastal spots.