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Destin, Florida is a beach-lovers paradise! Check out this guide to the best Destin, Florida beaches that everyone in the family will love!
With miles of pristine white-sand beaches and crystal clear emerald-colored water, it’s no wonder that Destin, Florida 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.
What Makes Destin Florida Beaches Special?
Wondering why every beach lover should put Destin on their US travel bucket list?
Here are just a few reasons:
- 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!
- 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 dunes: Destin Florida beaches are unique in that some of Florida’s largest sand dunes are located here. You’ll see giant sand dunes at both Okaloosa Island and Santa Rosa Beach.
- The Gateway to 30A: The 20-mile stretch of coastline between Destin and Panama City Beach is known as Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A. Use Destin as a starting point and discover the amazing things to do on 30A while there!
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.
Though more expensive, another popular time to visit Destin is during the summer months of June, July, and August – especially if you’re most interested in enjoying the beaches.
During the summer months, you can expect higher daily temps in the 80s and low 90s.
In order to make these months more tolerable, it is important to understand how to stay cool in the Florida heat, as the heat 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 off-season 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!
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 on this list!
Be sure to check out our related posts to help you plan your trip:
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 beautiful coastal dunes that are upwards of 30 feet high.
In addition, Henderson Beach State Park 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 has tent and RV camping on-site as well.
Additional planning tip: It’s worth noting that Henderson Beach State Park charges a $6 per vehicle entry fee to visit.
Also, take note that lifeguards are only on duty during peak tourist season. Always use caution when swimming in the ocean here and follow posted warnings.
Check out my 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 connected to Destin by roadway 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 on Okaloosa Island.
There’s also the Island Pier (formerly known as the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier) where you can purchase a daily fishing pass and even rent fishing equipment.
Last, animal lovers will love Gulfarium Marine Nature Park which is also located on Okaloosa Island!
Here, visitors can view amazing marine animals, 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
Unlike Okaloosa Island which can be accessed by car, Crab Island in Destin can only be accessed by boat.
Despite the additional planning that it takes to get there, Crab Island is immensely popular and is well worth a visit!
This beach is located in Choctawhatchee Bay, and it’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and “anchoring out for the day” as the water is only 1 -4 feet here.
The entire family will love swimming in the beautiful emerald waters while soaking up the sun among all of the other vacation-goers.
Kayak rentals and picnicking are other popular Crab Island activities.
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, you’ll find it here in a floating snack shop!
Crab Island is open 24 hours a day, however, visiting during the daytime at high tide is the best time to visit.
(High tide is typically between 9-10 AM and is when the water is the most crystal clear.)
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.
It’s also ideal for a little sandcastle building!
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.
Next, there are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby. Whether you prefer antique shopping or high-end brands, your options are endless.
Make sure to check out the Silver Sands Premium Outlets for popular brands at bargain prices.
Additional planning tip: If you’re looking for a place to stay in Miramar Beach, check out 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 another one of the most popular Destin beaches.
This facility has everything you could want on 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.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or an adventurous one, James Lee Beach Park has something for everyone.
Check out our popular beach packing list to find our favorite Destin beach gear!
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 fisherman? 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 as the beach has plenty of space and the water is calm and clear.
There are also several restaurants, shops, and activities in HarborWalk Village, so you can easily spend an entire 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.
7. Santa Rosa Beach
The warm waters are crystal clear, and the sand is a pristine white.
In addition, 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.
To keep you fueled throughout your beach day, you’ll need to take advantage of the various food trucks surrounding the area.
These food trucks serve everything from artisan-made ice cream to fish tacos!
8. June White Decker Beach Park
June White Decker Beach Park is one of the smaller beaches in Destin; it has public beach access and 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; it’s also a wonderful way to tour the area!
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.
Additional planning tip: Your best bet is to get there early, as space is somewhat limited.
More Destin Florida Beaches
The scenic beauty doesn’t stop here – Destin is a beach town, after all.
Here are some more incredible beaches to stop by on your Destin vacation:
- Crystal Beach – Clear waters, white sands, watersports, and a tranquil atmosphere.
- John Beasley Park – Swimming, picnic areas, fishing on the shoreline, and designated dog-friendly areas.
- Fort Walton Beach Park – Open sands perfect for sunbathing, winding walking paths, seasonal festivities, and beautiful sunset views.
- Eglin Matterhorn Beach Access – Located on the Eglin Air Force Base, open to public access, pristine white sands, and protected sand dunes.
Destin Florida Beaches FAQs
Here are the questions we get asked the most about enjoying the best Destin Florida beaches.
In truth, the nicest beach in Destin has everything to do with your preferences.
Henderson Beach State Park is amongst the most popular, loved for its stunning coastline and possibilities for fun outdoor activities.
Use our complete list of the best Destin Florida beaches to find the nicest beach for your needs!
Destin receives crystal clear waters because of its prime location along the Gulf of Mexico; its waters are naturally filtered by Choctawhatchee Bay, giving them pristine quality.
As a result, almost all Destin beaches are known for their beautifully clear water.
The beaches with the most immaculate water include:
Henderson Beach State Park
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
In general, dogs aren’t allowed on beaches in Destin. During the off-season, however, these rules tend to be a bit more lenient.
From November through February, dogs may have limited beach access depending on the beach. Dogs should always be leashed.
Still, there are some beachfronts where dogs are welcome in specific off-leash areas.
If you’re a dog parent, Henderson Beach State Park is a great choice for its dog-friendly area.
If you’re looking for a piece of tranquility, we recommend trying Princess Beach, Norriego Point, or June White Decker Beach Park.
Princess Beach and June White Decker Beach Park are smaller and attract fewer crowds.
Norriego Point has plenty of wide-open sands and emerald-green waters in the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy.
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.
Finally, if you’re looking for some additional family-friendly Florida vacation itineraries, be sure to check out our other favorite spots:
- Siesta Key, FL Family Vacation Itinerary
- Sarasota, FL FamilyVacation Itinerary
- Orlando, FL Family Vacation Itinerary
- Tampa Bay, FL Family Vacation Itinerary
- Naples, FL Family Vacation Itinerary
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*