12 Best Beaches in Destin Florida You can’t miss!

Are you looking for the Best Beaches in Destin, Florida? Then I’ve got you covered! I have a list of the best beaches in Destin and nearby areas, that will encourage you to visit the beach every day!

Destin is located in Florida’s Panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico. The best beaches around Destin are on what is called the Emerald Coast. Most Florida Panhandle Beaches have powdery sugar-white sand with emerald-green waters that will encourage you to swim in the sea. The beaches in Destin Florida are nothing short of magical.

Not only the water is crystal clear with an emerald green color, but the temperature also remains warm as well! Thanks to the Gulf of Mexico! Also, you will notice less surf and waves, it is perfect for family family-friendly vacation with kids.

Simply put, there are so many beaches to visit in Destin and nearby areas, you can’t go wrong with any of the beautiful beaches in Destin! In this guide, I am including the best beaches to visit in Destin with all the details about public access, travel tips, etc.

So let’s dive in and discover the best beaches in Destin Florida for you to kick back and relax on during your trip!  

I would like to add that most of the Best Beaches in Destin are Public Beaches! Though the beachfront area is occupied by the condo owners, they don’t own the Private beach!!

Discover the Best Beaches In Destin

Henderson Beach State Park: No.1 Best Beach in Destin

Henderson Beach State Park is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Destin. The park boasts miles of sugar-white sandy beach with the deep emerald hues of the waters, creating a mesmerizing scene that draws people year-round. 

As one of Florida’s state parks, the land is protected and thus its natural beauty is allowed to thrive. The park features miles of white sandy beach, dunes, and a natural trail. As you cross the boardwalk, you’ll be greeted with the bright blue, warm, and clear water of the emerald coast!

Head to one of the corners of the beach to enjoy smaller crowds or sit under the umbrella at one of the prettiest beaches in Destin Florida.

Henderson Beach is a great place for swimming and snorkeling as the water is always warm here. Families and groups can make use of the designated picnic areas, complete with pavilions, for a memorable meal amidst nature. 

best beaches in destin florida

Henderson Beach State Park is also one of the best places to go camping in Florida. You can book one of the sixty available camping sites, equipped with modern amenities, which provides an immersive experience! You can fall asleep to the sound of waves after spending the day at one of the best beaches in Destin.

There is an entrance fee of $6 per car to use the Henderson Beach State Park area but it’s worth it for what you get here! You can check their website for up-to-date information about fees, facilities, and camping.

Crab Island: Sandbar Party Destination of Destin

One of the most popular beaches of Destin is Crab Island. If you’re searching for one of the hottest Places to be in the Destin area, look no further than Crab Island.

Technically Crab Island is neither a beach nor an island! It is a man-made island that was eroded over the years, now it is like a sandbar. This sand bar is located across the Destin Bridge in Choctawhatchee Bay and is considered one of the best lively beaches in Destin. Truly, it is one of the best things to do on Florida 30A.

Best Beach in Destin Crab Island
Pristine waters of Crab Island : Best Beach in Destin Florida

Today, Crab Island is a vibrant underwater sandbar that transforms into a floating playground during low tide. Even when the tide is high, the water is only four feet high. Tourists and locals alike flock to Crab Island to play in the beautiful blue water.

Unfortunately, the only way to reach Crab Island is by boat. However, you have so many options! You can either rent or charter a boat on your own. Alternatively, you can opt for an organized Boat tour by local companies that leave from Destin Harbor.

Thanks to its shallow waters, you can enjoy swimming and snorkeling with a few beverages in the emerald-green waters. Enjoy the water sports, floating restaurants, and live music, there are so many things to do at Crab Island. It is the ultimate Sand Bar Party destination in Florida suitable for families as well!

To find out more information about visiting one of the best beaches in Destin, check out my post about Tips for Visiting Crab Island.

Norriego Point Beach Park: One of the Best Beaches in Destin Florida

Out of all the beaches in Destin, the one with the clearest water is probably Norriego Point. Norriego Point forms a unique peninsula at the confluence of the Destin Harbor and East Pass. It’s no wonder that Norriego Point is one of the most popular public beaches in Destin.

Norriego Point is not directly on the Gulf of Mexico but rather one side is on Destin Harbor and the other side sits on the East Pass which leads out to the Gulf of Mexico. Since it sits right at the point where Choctawhatchee Bay empties into the Gulf, it gets the clearest water in Destin.

It is renowned for its calm, clear waters and white sandy beaches, just perfect for snorkeling! It offers a secluded beach area compared to some of Destin’s more popular beaches!

The Norriego Point beach area has plenty of areas to walk around and explore. You can watch boats cruising by on the harbor and take in the view and sounds of Harborwalk Village.

You can rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from local rental shops to explore the waters off the coast. There is even a Water Taxi stop on Norriego Point so you can come or go from here to anywhere on Destin harbor.

I recommend bringing your food, drinks, and a good book so you can relax and enjoy an entire day here!

  • Parking: Parking Lot + Street Parking
  • Public Restroom Facilities: No
  • Outdoor Shower/Foot wash: Yes

The Shores at Crystal Beach Park

You’ll find this beautiful Public beach access with varying amenities on Scenic Highway 98. The Shores at Crystal Beach Public access area has restrooms and a large beachfront picnic pavilion.

This beach is right across the street from Camille’s at Crystal Beach which is a popular sushi and pizza restaurant. It is one of the very small public beach access points in Destin but one of the most beautiful beaches in Destin for sure!

It offers an expansive stretch of powdery white sands that seem to sparkle under the Floridian sun with crystal clear waters as its name suggests! The ambiance at Crystal Beach is one of laid-back luxury, making it a sought-after destination for both relaxation and recreation.

The beach is very near to all the amenities like cafes, shops, and restaurants – just a short walk away! It is perfect to watch the amazing sunset from here as the day ends!

  • Parking: Small Parking Lot and Limited Street Parking
  • Outdoor Shower/Foot Wash: Yes
  • Public Restroom Facilities: Yes

James Lee Park Beach

Just east of Henderson Beach State Park is James Lee Beach. This quaint spot is one of the nicest beaches in Destin, located just off Highway 98.

Located within James Lee Park, James Lee Beach the largest public beach access in Destin! Its expansive shoreline provides ample space for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or enjoying a peaceful walk along the beach! 

The James Lee Beach Park includes all the amenities like picnic pavilions, playgrounds, and dune walkovers, making it very popular among families. Also, the water is shallow and clean, the perfect spot to enjoy with the kids!

The beach is only a short walk from many of the hotels in the area, making it the perfect family-friendly beach in Destin. Make sure to check out The Crab Trap, located at James Lee Park, and taste the fresh catch of the day!

Note: The beach is divided into four sections: North Shore, South Shore, East Shore, and West Shore. Each section has different amenities and attractions.

  • Parking: Large Parking Lot & is free
  • Outdoor Shower/Foot Wash: Yes
  • Public Restroom Facilities: Yes
Crab island Destin Florida

June White Decker Park 

Located right along Scenic US Highway 98, June White Decker Park is one of the best public beaches in Destin. It is small compared to Henderson Beach State Park, but it is one of the popular beaches among tourists.

June White Decker Public Beach Park is one of the best public beaches in Destin because of the large grass area with several beach walkovers, and a white sandy shoreline, the water is clear and warm.

The beach at June White Decker Park is very popular in Destin and it gets quite busy, as it is centrally located. To bit the crowd and get parking in the summer, visit it early during the day. Or later in the day, you’ll get beautiful sunset views with less crowd.

This is a beautiful beach area with amenities such as restrooms, outdoor showers, bike racks, grills, and a playground.

  • Parking: Large Parking Lot
  • Outdoor Shower/Foot Wash: Yes
  • Public Restroom Facilities: Yes

Best Beaches to Visit Near Destin

Okaloosa Island Beach

Just to the west of Destin is Okaloosa Island, where you can find public access to some of the best beaches near Destin. This pristine barrier island offers a reprieve from the bustling beaches of Destin, ensuring a more peaceful experience.

With the majestic Gulf of Mexico on one side and the tranquil Choctawhatchee Bay on the other, the park offers breathtaking panoramas of both the vast expanse of the sea and the serene bay waters.

There are seven beach access points with restrooms and dune walkovers along the three-mile-long Okaloosa Island. It is typically less crowded than other beaches near Destin. The boardwalk complex is full of delightful restaurants, Ice Cream shops and boutiques.

The water is crystal clear like other best beaches in Destin, perfect for snorkeling and swimming!

  • Parking: designated spaces across all 7 beaches (Type Okaloosa Island Beach Access in GPS)
  • Outdoor Shower/Foot Wash: Yes
  • Public Restroom Facilities: Yes

Eglin Beach Park

Looking for the perfect beach park for a day soaking up the sun with crystal-blue waves splashing nearby? Eglin Beach Park might be the perfect spot. If you are with a Department of Defense (DOD) ID, one of the best beaches in Destin is Eglin Beach Park.

Eglin Beach Park is a private beach maintained for military and Department of Defense visitors, veterans, federal employees, federal facility contractors, and their guests as long that they have proper identification.

It has a well-maintained pavilion, picnic tables, grills, clean restrooms, and indoor and outdoor showers making this one of the most well-equipped beaches in the Destin. Eglin Beach is truly a non-crowded beach to ditch of Destin.

Be aware that there is a small parking fee, though there are plenty of parking spots.

Princess Beach

If you’re looking for one of the best beaches in Destin to avoid the touristy crowds, check out Princess Beach. Located on the eastern end of the city of Destin, Princess Beach is a mile-long white sand beach that will make you feel like having your own private beach in Destin.

The beach has a beautiful background of protected dunes and is part of the Eglin Air Force Base along the shores of the Emerald Coast, which together offer incredible views, especially during sunset.

Be aware that Princess Beach is one of the most no-frills beaches in Destin. There are no restrooms or lifeguards, so plan accordingly.

Miramar Beach

Miramar Beach is one of the best beaches near Destin, lying just a 15-minute drive to the east. It’s a popular spot and can get busy, but Miramar Beach is worth a visit.

The water at Miramar Beach is not only a stunning blue, but it’s also so clear that you can see right down to the bottom! Combined with powdery white sand, it’s on par with all the best beaches in Destin.

Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent. There are restroom facilities on site and the restaurant Pompano Joes nearby serves food and drinks. Miramar Beach is ADA-accessible and has beach wheelchairs available.

  • Parking: Plentiful Parking via a large paved parking lot
  • Outdoor Shower/Foot Wash: Yes
  • Public Restroom Facilities: Yes

Blue Mountain Beach

Another of the best beaches near Destin is Blue Mountain Beach. This charming beach is located between Destin and Seaside, FL.

The name can be a bit misleading as there are no actual mountains at Blue Mountain Beach. Legend says that sailors saw the sand dunes in the distance covered in rare blue lupin flowers.

The vibe in Blue Mountain Beach in Florida is laid-back, relaxed, and friendly. If you are looking for an old-fashioned beach escape that is not crowded, but close to everything – then Blue Mountain Beach Florida is the perfect beach escape.

Parking at Blue Mountain Beach is available, though it is limited. There is also an outdoor shower and public restrooms.

Don’t forget to visit the Blue Mountain Beach Creamery or Blue Mountain Bakery for a sweet treat!

Navarre Beach: Must visit beach in Destin

One of the Prettiest beaches to visit near Destin, Navarre Beach is perfect for those seeking a beach day trip outside Destin. About an hour’s drive west of Destin, Navarre Beach is located between the Navarre Marine Park and the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Navarre Beach

Considered “Florida’s most relaxing place”, Navarre beach has pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters with so many family-friendly activities. You can swim, snorkel, or visit the Navarre pier that offers award-winning restaurant dining with views. You can catch live music at local restaurants and bars, and see the spectacular views of the sunset, there is something for everyone!

  • Parking: Plentiful Parking via a large Paved parking lot
  • Outdoor Shower/Foot Wash: Yes
  • Public Restroom Facilities: Yes

Which beach in Destin has the clearest water?

Of all the best beaches in Destin, the one with the clearest water is probably Norriego Point. The clear, emerald water of Norriego Point is similar to the beaches of Maldives or the Caribbean. It’s no wonder that Norriego Point is one of the most popular public beaches in Destin.

Since Norriego Point sits right at the point where Choctawhatchee Bay empties into the Gulf of Mexico, it gets the clearest water. This is why Norriego Point is one of the best places in Florida for snorkeling.

What is the prettiest beach in Destin?

Without a doubt, Henderson Beach State Park has the prettiest beach in Destin. Miles of white sand greet you as you cross a boardwalk over huge, sugary dunes to reach the clearest blue water you’ve ever seen! Sitting under an umbrella at Henderson Beach State Park is one of the best beach spots in Destin.

Some FAQs about the Best Beaches in Destin

What month does Destin have the clearest water?

Destin has a subtropical climate, which means it’s generally warm and humid with mild winters and hot summers. The best time to visit Destin for the clearest water is from October to May. Summers are the best time to visit but it gets quite hot during the day!

What is the least crowded beach near Destin?

Princess Beach is one of the more secluded beaches along the Emerald Coast. If you’re looking to escape the crowds on other beaches, Princess Beach is the spot for you. 

Is there a parking fee at Destin Beaches?

The City of Destin charges $20 for 4 hours of parking at the public beaches, including street parking on Scenic 98 in Crystal Beach and Gulf Shore Drive on Holiday Isle. You can pay using the Passport Parking app.

When is the best time to visit the beaches near Destin, Florida?

The best time to visit the beaches near Destin is between March and April. This is when the temperatures are cooler and the crowds are smaller. However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds altogether, you can also visit during the off-season between September and November.

So, it’s time to pack your bags, and visit one of the best beaches in Destin for your next beach getaway.

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