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Fort Walton Beach has all the fun of the major vacation spots, minus the fuss. Home to family-friendly 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.

There are five beachfront parks and 12 beach access ways along the Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island coastline. Some have pavilions, picnic tables, restrooms with changing areas, playgrounds and volleyball nets. What they all share is that signature sugar-white sand and emerald-green water.

Henderson Beach State Park

17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 837-7550

Pristine white sugar sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico . Natural features of the park include sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary. Boardwalks provide access to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Four large and two small pavilions allow for picnicking and grilling. A playground is the first stop on our nature trail and is sure to be a success with the kids. The nature trail provides visitors a rare glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife and is pet friendly. Camping at Henderson Beach State Park provides 60 campsites that are located in our secondary dune system. The sites include water and electric hookups and access to air conditioned and heated bathhouse facilities. A separate beach access boardwalk with outdoor showers and a playground are included in our campground. Henderson Beach is A.D.A accessible and includes beach wheel chair availability. Visitors can enjoy truly breathtaking sunsets while relaxing by the warm crystal clear water of the Gulf of Mexico.

James Lee County Park

3510 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin

James Lee Park is at the beach on the Walton/Okaloosa County line. This park has 3 pavilions, 41 picnic tables, 9 dune walkovers, a playground, restrooms with changing rooms, and 166 parking spaces.

John Beasley Wayside Park

Okaloosa Island, FL 32548
(850) 689-5772

John Beasley Park is a large beach park on Okaloosa Island with 2 dune walkovers to the Gulf of Mexico. This park has 2 large pavilions, 12 picnic tables, an octagonal platform, restrooms with changing rooms and 208 parking spaces.

Secret of the Sands

The sands that compose the beaches of Destin, Ft. Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island are among the whitest and cleanest in the world, and the perfect oval shape of each grain of sand makes the beach "squeak" when you walk on it.

You can thank the Apalachicola River, 130 miles east of Ft. Walton Beach, for the type of sand found here. The quartz-sand material, delivered to the Gulf of Mexico from the Appalachian mountains via the river, was deposited along the shores when Santa Rosa Island began to extend like an arm from Destin. This extension continues today as these small, white grains of quartz sand move to the west before reaching their final destination at the Pensacola Pass.

Sand Dunes

Sand dunes, which protect the coastline from storm winds and waves, are formed when waves carry sand to the beach, where the wind picks it up and blows it inland. Gradually, the sand piles up and plants such as sea oats begin to grow in it. The sea oats slowly cover the entire dune and protect it from erosion. If people strip the sea oats from the dunes by walking on them or driving dune buggies over them, storm winds and waves will be able to cut through the dunes and cause severe damage inland. For this reason, it is important to remember: KEEP OFF THE DUNES.

Barrier Beaches

Much of Florida is protected by a chain of barrier islands – narrow strips of sand that act as a buffer for storm waves. In their natural state, barrier islands contain a range of habitats, from sandy beaches to salt marshes and brackish lagoons. Behind the front dunes, which can vary in height and distance due to the salt spray and wind, thickets of shrubs that can tolerate strong wind and spray create a protective hedge in front of coastal forests. These forests trap and anchor sand, help stabilize the dunes and protect the shoreline against storms and hurricanes. They are also critical stopovers for songbirds migrating between the tropics and North America. Farther back from the ocean, the dunes flatten, ending at saltwater lagoons bordered by salt marshes in North Florida and mangrove swamps in South Florida.

Outdoor Activities

Boat Ramps & Marinas

Adventure Marina

1201B Miracle Strip Pkwy SE Fort Walton Beach , FL 32548 (850) 581-2628

Allen's Little Marina

815 Bayshore Dr Niceville , FL 32578 (850) 678-2226

Blanchita Marina

414 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 32541 (850) 837-0961

Bluewater Bay Marina

290 Yacht Club Dr NE Fort Walton Beach , FL 32548 (850) 897-7762

Bluewater High & Dry

4225 Ward Cove Dr Niceville , FL 32578 (850) 897-0334

Boat Marina & Boat Yard

32 Miracle Strip Pkwy SW Fort Walton Beach , FL 32548 (850) 244-2722

Bulk Terminals Group

94 Cayman Cv Destin , FL 32541 (850) 654-9100

Destin Dockside

288 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 32541 (850) 837-2622

Destin Fisherman's Co-Op

210C Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 32541 (850) 654-4999

Destin Marina

7 Calhoun Ave Destin , FL 32540 (850) 837-2470

East Pass Fuel & Supply

288 Harbor Boulevard Destin , FL 32541 850-837-2622

Fort Walton Beach Yacht Basin

104 Miracle Strip Pkwy SW Fort Walton Beach , FL 32548 (850) 244-5725Ft. Walton Landing

Brooks St Ft. Walton Beach

Here you'll find a single concrete boat ramp on the Santa Rosa Sound in downtown Ft. Walton Beach. The ramp ends at the water's edge and is suitable for launching of small, shallow draft boats. There are two docks with slips, ample paved parking, bathrooms, a pump out station and trash cans for your convenience.

Garnier's Beach Park

257 Beachview Dr Fort Walton Beach

This park, operated by the city of Ft. Walton Beach, offers a single, concrete boat ramp on Choctawhatchee Bay. There is no designated parking for vehicles with trailers, but the park does have a paved parking lot. Bathroom facilities, a covered
picnic area and a playground are also available.

Gulf Coast Boating

8 Miracle Strip Pkwy SW Fort Walton Beach , FL 32548 (850) 664-2737

HarborWalk Marina

66 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 32541 (850) 337-8250

Joe's Bayou Boat Ramp Launch

800 Beach Dr Destin

Some say this is the most popular boat ramp in Destin. Operated by the city, this is a five-lane, concrete boat ramp on Joe's Bayou. Here, you'll find parking for 30 vehicles with trailers, with overflow parking, boarding docks and bathrooms nearby.

Legendary Marina FWB

1198 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE Fort Walton Beach , FL 32548 850-243-7861

Legendary Yacht Club

4603 Legendary Marina Dr Destin , FL 32541 (850) 337-8320

Liza Jackson Park Boat Ramp

350 Hwy 98 W Ft. Walton Beach

You'll find that this boat ramp, operated by the city of Ft. Walton Beach, has a steep ramp. The water around the ramp is deep, but it's shallow across Santa Rosa Sound to the Intercoastal Waterway. Authorities advise caution. Liza Jackson Park is home to a separate fishing dock, a picnic area, covered pavilions, bathrooms and a playground.

Marker Marina

38 Miracle Strip Pkwy SW Fort Walton Beach , FL 32548 (850) 226-7152

Marler Park

1275 Santa Rosa Blvd Okaloosa Island

Mobro Marine Inc

606 Leonard C Taylor Pkwy Green Cove Springs , FL 32043 (904) 284-9670

Northlight Marina

113 John Sims Pkwy W Niceville , FL 32578 (850) 678-2350

Ozean Marina

115 John Sims Pkwy W Niceville , FL 32578 (850) 279-0025

Pilings Marina

1723 23rd St Niceville , FL 32578 (850) 678-7447

Seaway Boat Ramp

254 Seaway Dr Cinco Bayou

This two-lane, concrete boat ramp with a loading dock is operated by the town of Cinco Bayou. You'll find paved parking for 15 vehicles with trailers here. Go under the Cinco Bayou/Eglin Parkway bridge to get to Destin, about six miles away.

Shalimar Yacht Basin

100 Old Ferry Rd Shalimar , FL 32579 (850) 651-0510

Sp & Rl Inc. Marina

100 Old Ferry Rd Shalimar , FL 32579 (850) 651-0510

Treasure Island Marina

327 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 32541 (850) 269-1133

Walkedge Drive Boat Ramp

Walkedge Dr Ft. Walton Beach

Diving and Snorkeling

Destin Snorkel

66 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 32541 850-269-2329

The Explorer offers a Seashell and Dolphin tour that will take you into Choctawhatchee Bay to search for seashells and crabs (plan on participating in their famous hermit crab race). After shelling, the boat heads out to the Bay and Gulf where dolphins play. Destin Snorkel is located in HarborWalk Village.

Discovery Dive World

92 S John Sims Pkwy Valparaiso 32580

We are a full-service scuba and snorkeling dive center. Charter a trip and find out why we are the choice of people who know diving. We are here to ensure that you have the dive trip you have always dreamed of.

Emerald Coast Scuba

503 B Harbor Blvd Destin 850-837-0955

Emerald Coast Scuba has been named the "Coolest Company To Go Down Under With" by On the Coast Magazine. They offer swimming lessons, PADI scuba training, snorkel and dive charters to an award-winning dive shop.

Flipper Adventure

500 Harbor Blvd Destin 32541 850-837-0113

Pelican Adventures

314 Harbor Blvd Destin 850-650-3825

Come snorkel the beautiful emerald-green waters with an experienced, friendly crew waiting to guide you. Snorkel, feed the fish or soak up the sun's rays on the beach. Pelican Adventures offers a 2 ½ -3 hour excursion, servicing up to 30 passengers per trip. A snorkel instructor is available on and off the vessel for any questions or assistance that may be needed. The crew is first aid, CPR & AED certified.

ScubaTech Diving & Snorkeling

301 Harbor Blvd Destin 850-837-2822

ScubaTech's dive boat, The Sea Cobra , is one of the fastest and most comfortable for its size in the area. She is a 45-foot crew boat custom-designed for maximum diver safety and convenience. There are tank racks and bench seats designed for the Scuba diver's comfort, two drop-down ladders on a spacious platform, and two giant-stride entry points. The spacious passenger cabin can also be heated in the winter months.

Snorkeling can be learned by nearly everyone! We welcome non-swimmers, first timers and the experienced because everybody should get in the water and experience Destin's Emerald Green waters.


Vacationers don't just come to Okaloosa County for the sugar-white sand and the emerald-green waters. They come to catch red snapper, white trout and blue marlin. From the depths of the breathtaking Gulf of Mexico to the sleepy bayous, beautiful lakes and pristine waters of the Choctawhatchee Bay, there is an abundance of fish to be caught here year-round.

Florida Fishing Licenses

Florida fishing licenses are required for all residents between 16 and 64 years of age. Persons 65 and over must carry a Senior Citizen Hunting and Fishing Certificate, which can be obtained free from the county tax collector. Totally and permanently disabled Florida residents are also eligible for a free license. 

Exempt is any resident who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and is not stationed in Florida, and is home on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders.


Freshwater or Saltwater

Resident Annual

NOTE: Residents fishing for a saltwater species (other than mullet in freshwater) from land or from a structure fixed to the land are required to have a no-cost saltwater shoreline fishing license.

Please consult with a local licensing agent for more details on license fees and regulations for Florida residents and visitors.

Freshwater and saltwater fishing information:

Instant licenses (online):

Water Sports

Plan on spending most of your time here all wet? Extreme fun awaits on the Emerald Coast. Jet Skiing, parasailing, kiteboarding, surfing, waterskiing – you can do it all here. Don't leave without spending a few days at Crab Island, a favorite spot among locals.

Adventure Marina, Bait, Fuel & Watersports

1201 U.S. Hwy 98 Ft. Walton Beach , FL 850-243-5721

Adventure Marina is a full-service marina located on the Intracoastal Waterway at the foot of the Brooks Bridge on Okaloosa Island. Offering four-six- and-eight-hour pontoon rentals, deep-sea fishing charters, bait and tackle shop and fuel dock.

Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center

8974 Tomahawk Landing Rd Milton , FL 32570 850-623-6197

Discover the fun of outdoor adventure in Northwest Florida with Adventures Unlimited, offering canoeing, kayaking, tubing and zip adventures. Soar through the air and get a bird's-eye view of the forest, beaches and river below.

Aloha Pontoon Boat Rentals

194 Harbor Blvd E Destin , FL 850-269-3333

Enjoy the beautiful Emerald Coast waters with affordable Jet Ski rentals, pontoon boat rentals, fishing charters, dolphin tours and parasailing adventures. Never Jet Skied before? If you are under 22, they offer a boater's certification class so you may enjoy the waters.

Banana Boat Rides

314 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 850-687-1626

Grab your group and head down to the Destin Harbor and take a Banana Boat ride around Destin's beautiful waterways. Up to six guests can ride at once. A photo package is available for action shots.

Blue Crab Watersports

404 Highway 98 Destin , FL 850-218-5504

Stop dreaming and start enjoying! Blue Crab Watersports rents pontoon boats, waverunners, kayaks and paddleboards. The company's Yamaha VX Deluxe Waverunners carry up to three passengers. Their 24-foot pontoon boats seat up to twelve. Full and half day rates are available. Blue Crab is located behind Marina Cafe, offering easy access to Crab Island, Destin Harbor and beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay.

Blue Heron Watersports

200 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 32541 (850) 737-0607

Blue Heron is proud to rent all NEW 90 horsepower pontoon boats, waverunners and kayaks. Its location on the Destin Harbor gives you easy access to all of the beautiful waterways of Destin and Ft. Walton Beach. The flat water of the Destin Harbor, the open water of the Choctawhatchee Bay, and the world-famous Crab Island are yours to explore when you rent from Blue Heron.

Boogies Watersports

16 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 850-654-4497

Located at HarborWalk Village, Boogies Watersports offers waverunners, pontoon boats, dolphin excursions on wave runners and parasailing. The company also offers a two-hour narrated glass-bottom boat dolphin cruise with dolphin encounters and bird feeding. Call for trip times.

Chute for the Skye Parasail

14 Harbor Blvd Destin 32541 850-650-2475

If you're staying in Okaloosa Island, no need to leave! We have it all right here, from parasailing to pontoon boat and wave-runner rentals. Explore the bayous, intra-coastal canals and Choctawhatchee Bay, or even experience a party on the water at Crab Island.

Crab Island WaterSports

1198 Miracle Strip Pkwy #1 Ft. Walton Beach , FL 32548 (850) 243-2722

From parasailing to pontoon boat and waverunner rentals, Crab Island WaterSports has it all. Explore the bayous, intracoastal canals and Choctawhatchee Bay, or even experience a party on the water at Crab Island. Crab Island WaterSports is located near the No Wake Zone end. They have the “shortest distance through the no wake zone.” Don't spend the first 20 minutes of your rental hour on idle.

Destin Parasailing

390 Harbor Blvd. Destin , FL 32541 (866) 359-3114

See Destin like never before. Destin Parasailing uses the latest parasailing technology. Its CWS Parasail Boat "Smile High II" is made specifically for parasailing, and is USCG inspected for up to 12 passengers. All of their parasail flights have a USCG licensed captain and an excellent crew. Children can fly tandem with adults or friends.

Gilligan's Watersports

530 Harbor Blvd Destin , FL 850-650-9000

Gilligan's Watersports is one of the most experienced watersports companies in the Destin area. Their experienced team has taken over 100,000 people parasailing and has a 100% safety record. Along with parasailing, Gilligans offers waverunner rentals, pontoon boat rentals and dolphin tours on waverunners.

Get Up Stand Up Paddle Sports

219 Mountain Dr Destin 32541 843-602-7747

We offer SUP rentals for all ages and skill levels. Our staff is always eager to help anyone with questions regarding the sport of stand-up paddling. We offer lessons for anyone interested in learning the sport.



















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