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Destin Florida Beaches: The 8 BEST Spots to Enjoy

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July 14, 2022

Check out this guide to the best Destin, Florida beaches

Planning a beach vacation?

If so, Destin Florida beaches should be at the top of your list!

With miles of pristine white-sand beaches and crystal clear water, it’s no wonder this area is a popular tourist destination.

Each of the Destin beaches has its own unique charm and attractions, so it can be hard to choose just one.

…But that’s where we come in!

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best beaches in Destin Florida, and tell you what makes each one special.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase through a link. For more info, see disclosure.

Aerial view of Destin Florida beaches

What Makes Beaches in Destin Florida Special?

Wondering why every beach lover should put Destin on their US travel bucket list?

Here are just a few reasons:

  • The wildlife: If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be happy to know that the Destin area is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, turtles, and even sharks!
  • The fishing: Destin is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” so if you’re an angler, this is definitely the place for you.

In fact, Destin is one of the most popular spots for fishing in the United States because of the Gulf of Mexico access and an impressive array of fish varieties including redfish, snook, trout, tarpon, snapper, mahi-mahi, sailfish, and tuna.

Whether you prefer deep sea fishing or casting a line from the shore, you’re sure to have a good time.

  • The beaches: As mentioned above, the beaches here are absolutely stunning. With their white sand and turquoise waters, they look like something straight out of a postcard. And trust us – they’re even more beautiful in person!
White sandy beaches in Destin, Florida

When to Visit Destin, Florida

The best time to visit Destin depends on your budget and what activities you want to experience (as prices and temperatures vary drastically per season).

Though Destin, Florida is a great place to be enjoyed year-round, most people feel that the best time to visit Destin is during the months of April to May.

From mid-April to the end of May, the sun is shining and the temperatures are comfortable (expect highs in the mid-70s and 80s). 

During this time, crowds are a mixture of busy and slow depending on Spring Break times, and prices are moderate.

Another popular time to visit Destin, especially if you’re most interested in enjoying the beaches, is during the summer months of June, July, and August.

During the summer months, you can expect higher daily temps in the 80s and low 90s.

However, this is also when you’ll experience peak crowds and price hikes.

In order to make these months more tolerable, it is important to understand how to stay cool in the Florida heat as it can be quite intense.

Winter temps in Destin fluctuate between the low 40s and 60s making it the slowest tourism season.

Though some travelers do still visit in the winter offseason when both temps and rates drop, they miss out on the area’s top activities as watersports companies, boat tours, beach services, and even a few restaurants will close for some or all of this time.

Additional planning tip: Be mindful that Florida’s hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak of the season being the first week of September.

If anything, expect sporadic rainfall during these months.

*Get our Florida Packing List that includes what to pack for all types of weather, here!

Beaches in Destin

The Best Beaches in Destin, Florida

Whether you’re looking for family-friendly beaches or secluded spots made for relaxation, you’ll find the perfect place for you on this list!

1. Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park is one of the most popular beaches in Destin, and with good reason!

With over 6,000 feet of beachfront, there’s plenty of space for everyone to spread out and enjoy.

The combination of clear water and sugar-white sand makes it a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.

But, that’s not all this beautiful state park offers.

The stunning shoreline is anchored by coastal dunes that are upwards of 30 feet high.

In addition, this Emerald Coast location also offers hiking, fishing, and non-motorized boat sports such as kayaking.

Don’t want to leave after a day of fun in the sun?

Henderson Beach State Park offers tent and RV camping on site.

Additional planning tip: It’s worth noting that the state park does charge a small fee for entry at $6 per vehicle.

*Find our list (with shopping links!) of the best beach bags for moms to help carry and store your beach gear!

2. Okaloosa Island

Okaloosa Island is a must-visit for any beach lover.

This seven-mile island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Northwest Florida

The waters here are calm and clear, making them a great place for swimming, fishing, and kayaking.

And, if you’re looking for a little more excitement, you can take a ride on jet skis or a parasail.

The beaches here are also great for relaxing, with plenty of space for sunbathing and picnicking.

When you need a break from the sand, there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby on the boardwalk.

Plus, animal lovers will enjoy Gulfarium Marine Nature Park where they can view world-class exhibits, view fun shows, and experience animal encounters with aquatic animals such as dolphins, stingrays, and sea lions.

Finally, if you’re looking for a place to stay, there are several resorts and vacation rentals on the island too.

3. Crab Island

If you’re looking for an interactive beach day on the Emerald Coast, Crab Island is the perfect spot.

This beach is located in Choctawhatchee Bay, and it’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.

The entire family will love swimming in the beautiful emerald waters while soaking up the sun. (Check out our popular beach packing list for our favorite Destin beach gear items!)

Adventure-seekers may want to partake in one of the floating obstacle courses or slides in the water.

Boating continues to be one of the most popular activities as well.

If you don’t have your own boat, no worries! There are several companies that offer rentals, so you can still enjoy all this beach has to offer.

Just make sure to bring a driver’s license and cash with you.

Picnicking is another popular Crab Island activity. While you can certainly pack your own food to bring with you, you may want to take advantage of the floating food vendors.

Whether you are craving pizza, BBQ, salty snacks, or even ice cream, chances are you’ll find it on the water.

4. Miramar Beach

If you’re looking for a beach with a little bit of everything, Miramar Beach is the perfect spot.

This South Walton beach has it all – from shopping and dining to fishing and swimming.

The clear waters and sugar-white sands make it a great place to spend the day swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.

And, if you’re looking for a little more excitement, there are plenty of water sports to enjoy.

You can rent jet skis or take a parasailing adventure.

When you need a break from the sand, there are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby. Whether you prefer antique shopping or high-end brands, there is plenty to do in the area.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, there are several resorts and vacation rentals in the area.

Those who prefer a more active vacation will appreciate Hidden Dunes Beach and Tennis Resort.

This is one of the best places for tennis fans to stay as it has half a dozen shaded courts to play on, as well as a tennis matchmaking program so you can play competitively on vacation.

Even if you aren’t a tennis fan, you may want to take advantage of the lush nature trail or private beach area the resort offers.

5. James Lee Beach

James Lee Park is one of the most popular Destin beaches.

And, it’s no wonder why! This facility has everything you could want in a beach day.

Parking is both free and plentiful, and those who are traveling from out of town can take advantage of chair and umbrella rentals located on the beach.

The crystal-clear waters are perfect for swimming and there is plenty of space for sunbathing on the white sand beaches.

You can also enjoy the picnic areas with multiple dining tables available.

Forget your picnic basket? No problem.

Give local hotspot The Crab Trap a try. Whether you opt for the signature hot crab dip or one of the daily specials, you won’t leave hungry.

If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love the playground area located on the beautiful white sand shores.

There is also a pavilion that can be rented for parties and events. So, if you’re looking for a place to host a beach day for your family and friends, this is the perfect spot.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or an adventurous one, James Lee Beach Park has something for everyone.

6. Norriego Point

Norriego Point beach is located in Destin’s HarborWalk Village and is a great spot to get some fishing in.

Those who want to try their hand at deep sea fishing can take a charter boat out, while those who prefer to fish from the shore can do so from the pier.

Not a fisher? The area also offers fantastic wildlife attractions, with dolphins being the most popular!

You can end your day by enjoying a sunset dolphin cruise.

Norriego Point is also a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. The beach has plenty of space and the water is calm and clear.

There are also several restaurants and shops within HarborWalk Village, so you can easily spend a day here.

If you get hungry, be sure to try one of the fresh seafood restaurants.

They’ll have everything you need to fuel up for a day of fishing or beach activity.

In short, if you’re looking for a beach with a little bit of everything, Norriego Point is the perfect spot.

7. Santa Rosa Beach

Santa Rosa Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the city of Destin.

The warm waters are crystal clear and the sand is a pristine white.

This beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and simply taking in the stunning views.

Those who want to explore more can take advantage of the many activities available in the area.

Art lovers will especially appreciate the local art scene at the Artists at Gulf Place, which features eight galleries showcasing local art as well as events such as wine walks and art classes.

Santa Rosa Beach also provides multiple entrance points to Point Washington State Forest.

Here, you can hike, bike, or simply explore the nature trails while taking in the scenic views.

8. June White Decker Beach Park

June White Decker Beach Park is one of the smaller public beaches in Destin.

This beach is perfect for those who are looking for a relaxing day by the water.

The best part about this beach is its location. The park is situated on a peninsula, which provides stunning views in every direction.

June White Decker offers plenty of space for picnicking and sunbathing, as well as a playground area for kids.

Those who want to take a dip in the water will appreciate the fact that the beach has a designated swimming area.

If you happen to be staying nearby, you can even bike down to the beach, which offers bike racks.

Prefer to drive? There is a parking lot available as well with easy access right to the water.

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a quiet day at the beach, June White Decker Beach Park is the perfect spot.

Your best bet is to get there early, as space is somewhat limited.

Destin Florida Beaches Conclusion

These are just a few of the many incredible beaches that Destin has to offer.

No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll be sure to find the perfect spot for your family.

My hope is for you to have an amazing and carefree experience!

Before you go, don’t forget to read our family packing tips.

Last, consult our top tips on flying with kids, and road-tripping with kids (depending on how you plan to get there) to keep the kids calm and happy while traveling!

Finally, if you’re looking for some additional family-friendly Florida vacation itineraries, be sure to check out our other favorite spots:

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Find out the best beaches in Destin, Florida from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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