Florida West Coast / Panhandle Beaches

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Facing into the Gulf of Mexico and forming a narrow strip of coast up to the Alabama border is the Florida Panhandle. It is known for its abundant wildlife, crystal clear emerald waters and white sand beaches. Some would say the Panhandle is in fact home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, many of which can be found around Pensacola, Panama City and Destin.

Caressed by the warm, calm waters of the Gulf coast the Panhandle is perfect for a variety of water-based activities, such as fishing, boating, kayaking, diving and swimming. About the only activity you won't find much of is surfing, although kitesurfing is popular in the winter months.

The region is also known for its unique wildlife, such as alligators, dolphins, and manatees. The Florida Panhandle is also home to a number of state parks, such as St Andrews State Park, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and Grayton Beach State Park.

Throw in a mix of great seafood restaurants and year-round sunshine and it isn't hard to see why the area attracts so many visitors.

  • Miramar Beach // Florida

    Miramar Beach

    Positioned on an attractive stretch of Gulf of Mexico coastline, it's no surprise that Miramar Beach in Destin has its fair share of beachside condos and apartments for rent. During the summer months, its permanent population of approximately 6,000 residents is dwarfed massively by visitors keen to enjoy the powdery white sands for themselves.

    Sunbathers looking to soak up the rays of the southern sun are equally at home at Miramar Beach as those wanting to get their heart pounding from on top of a jet ski or by hanging… read more »

  • Santa Rosa Beach // Florida

    Santa Rosa Beach
    ©Barbara Reddoch

    Powdery white sand and the clear waters of the Gulf are all par for the course along Florida's Emerald Coast and Santa Rosa beach is no exception. Situated less than ten miles away from the ever popular beaches of Destin, what you get at Santa Rosa is a more laid back, and dare I say, upmarket experience. You can instantly tell there is money here from the fine beachfront properties and high end restaurants that line sections of the beach.

    Whilst there are plenty of facilities at hand, much of the… read more »

  • St George Island State Park // Florida

    St George Island State Park
    ©Todd Van Hoosear

    St George Island State Park is on a barrier island off the western coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. The sand is white and soft, and it stretches endlessly along the turquoise waters of the Gulf coast. This is a wonderfully wild place where you watch the most amazing sunsets and then see the stars as they brighten up the nighttime sky.

    During the day, you can enjoy long walks on the beach, collecting shells, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and more. This is a hotspot for nature and if… read more »

  • Panama City Beach // Florida

    Panama City Beach

    Stretching for 27 miles, Panama City Beach has white sands that meet clear turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Along this expansive shoreline are two state parks, waterfront restaurants, and a great range of attractions. You will find scuba divers and fishermen enjoying the artificial reefs offshore, and plenty of people relaxing on the beach.

    Panama City Beach has practically every water sports you can think of, from boating to parasailing to diving and more - although the relatively sheltered waters of the Gulf don't make for great surf. You… read more »

  • Johnson Beach National Seashore // Florida

    Johnson Beach National Seashore

    Johnson Beach sits at the center of Perdido Key, a barrier island which spans the Florida / Alabama border. 

    The beach has a lifeguard service, plenty of facilities and a parking lot, all of which makes it ideal for families. Along with a host of water based activities there are also a number of hiking trails here best of which is the Discovery Nature Trail. This raised wooden boardwalk winds through dunes the dunes and pine woods for around half a mile.

    The naming of the beach is for Rosamond Johnson.… read more »

  • Grayton Beach // Florida

    Grayton Beach

    Located on the Florida Panhandle, Grayton Beach faces south into the crystalline waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A Blue Wave beach (similar to the better-known Blue Flag scheme in Europe), it is a delightful strip of level white sand. The beach is part of a historic coastal village of the same name, and via its grid of streets, with Grayton Beach State Park.

    A popular spot year-round, Gulf of Mexico fishing charters launching directly from Grayton are common, in addition to the chance to try your hand at sailing or… read more »

  • Pensacola Beach // Florida

    Pensacola Beach
    ©Fede Casanova

    Stretching for several miles along the state's Gulf of Mexico coastline, Pensacola Beach forms the main proportion of Santa Rosa Island. A barrier island approximately 40 miles in length but just a couple of hundred yards wide, it can be subdivided into a number of different beaches and conservation areas. It is connected by road bridges to mainland Florida at various points.

    The most popular entry point is probably the bridge that brings visitors to the parking spaces and crisp white sands of Casino Beach, part of Pensacola Beach so named… read more »

  • Okaloosa Beach // Florida

    Okaloosa Beach

    Okaloosa Beach sits on a tiny island, just across the water from Fort Walton and a stone's throw along the coast from Destin.

    The beach here's a portrait of paradise - the pristine sand is as icy-white as you're likely to find in the sunshine state, and there's a handful of watersports on offer in the crystal clear waters. 

    Unlike many of Florida's east coast beaches, surfing isn't a huge draw on the Gulf Coast, so despite the beach getting pretty packed in peak season, you won't find yourself dodging too many… read more »

  • Henderson Beach State Park // Florida

    Henderson Beach State Park
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  • Cape San Blas // Florida

    Cape San Blas
    ©Gary J. Wood
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  • St Joseph Peninsula State Park // Florida

    St Joseph Peninsula State Park
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  • Mexico Beach // Florida

    Mexico Beach
    ©Bill Fauth
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  • St Andrews State Park // Florida

    St Andrews State Park
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  • Carillon Beach // Florida

    Carillon Beach
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