Florida has always been one of the most popular destinations on the East Coast for a beach vacation. From the calm waters of the Atlantic coast to the white sand beaches of the Florida panhandle, there are dozens of beautiful beaches in the state.
If you’re planning your next beach vacation, we recommend checking out Destin, FL. Destin, FL is a beach town in Florida’s panhandle, best known as the world’s luckiest fishing village.
Destin beaches have crystal clear waters and sugar-white sand. It’s not only a great spot for fishing but is also home to many golf courses, recreation, and more, making this a great spot for your next family vacation!
In this post, I’ll look at the top 10 beaches in Destin, Florida, which are:
- Henderson Beach State Park
- Fort Walton
- Blue Mountain
- Crab Island
- Santa Rosa
- Crystal Shores
- James Lee Beach
- Grayton Beach State Park
Destin FL, Beaches
1. Henderson Beach State Park
About Henderson Beach State Park: Henderson Beach State Park sits on a shoreline with 30 feet of white sand dunes on Florida’s Emerald Coast.
Reasons to Visit: This campsite and RV park is great for adventurous spirits or families who want a little bit of everything, from beach access to fishing, walks along nature trails, and more! Here are some ways you can enjoy the park:
- Set up camp in one of 60 spots at the park
- Hike the three-quarter mile, pet-friendly trail
- Take a swim in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico
2. Miramar Beach
About Miramar Beach: This is a fun-filled and diverse beach neighborhood in the South Walton area. The vibrant community has miles of pristine beaches with white sand and Gulf Coast waters.
Reasons to Visit: Beyond lounging on the beach, the activities here are endless. Here are some of the attractions and entertainment you can find at Miramar Beach:
- A Bike ride along the 3-mile Scenic Highway 98 trail
- Hidden Dunes award-winning tennis facility
- Shopping at the Silver Sands Premium Outlet (If you love Outlet shopping and decide to visit Myrtle Beach, check out this list of things to do in Myrtle Beach, SC, including a trip to the Tanger Outlets!)
3. Fort Walton Beach
About Fort Walton Beach: This beach is in NW Florida, and has 26 miles of white sand beaches. There are 16 acclaimed neighborhoods here, which makes this a great place for beach vacations.
Reasons to Visit: Fort Walton is the perfect place for visitors who want to hop between beach neighborhoods and explore all an area has to offer.
This beach is also a popular spot for people who love to fish! It’s nearby the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, a 1,262-foot pier stretching into the Gulf of Mexico. The pier is perfect for fishing, watching the sunrise, or taking a nice stroll.
And if you love fishing, check out our guide to fly fishing in the GA Mountains!
4. Blue Mountain Beach
About Blue Mountain Beach: Blue Mountain Beach is a neighborhood in South Walton, sitting 65 feet above the surrounding towns in the area. It’s perfect for families, foodies, or a tranquil beach vacation.
Reasons to Visit: Blue Mountain Beach is the place to go if you’re seeking natural beauty and relaxation. Here are some of the ways you can enjoy your time at Blue Mountain Beach:
- Rent a bike at Big Daddy’s Bike Shop and hit a nature trail
- Sink your feet into the soft white sand and relax on the beach
- Explore South Walton’s coastal dune lake (Big Redfish Lake) on a standup paddleboard
If you want to bring your own paddleboard, check out this inflatable board with accessories on Amazon!
5. Santa Rosa Beach
About Santa Rosa Beach: Santa Rosa beach is the largest beach neighborhood in the South Walton area. It’s bustling with activity and full of history! This is one of the top beaches to visit in Destin if you want to stay busy with activities and recreation.
Reasons to Visit: From shopping to award-winning cuisine to art and history, Santa Rosa Beach has it all. The Santa Rosa Beach area is also home to 3 state parks and a state forest, making this the perfect place for nature lovers!
Pro tip: golf lovers should check out the Santa Rosa Golf and Beach club! This resort has a stunning course overlooking the emerald waters of the Florida panhandle.
If you love golf courses by the beach, check out this list of the top 20 golf courses near Tybee Island, GA.
6. Crab Island
About Crab Island: Crab Island is one of the most popular attraction-based destinations in Destin, FL! Crab Island is a raised sandbar with waters that reach 1-4 feet. It’s the perfect place to anchor a boat and hang out for the day.
Reasons to Visit: Crab Island is an oasis in the middle of the ocean! It’s a great spot for relaxing on your boat or a float, jamming out to music, fishing, and more. There are even floating bars and vendors at Crab Island!
7. Navarre Beach
About Navarre Beach: Navarre is a beach community less than an hour outside of Destin, FL. It has 12 miles of pristine public beaches with emerald green water.
Reasons to Visit: Navarre Beach is the place to go for simplicity and solitude. The top ways to spend your time here are soaking up the sun, with a picnic in the park, or pedaling along a scenic bike path.
Don’t forget to bring a waterproof beach blanket like this one from Amazon for ultimate relaxation on the beach!
8. Crystal Sands Beach
About Crystal Sands Beach: Crystal Sands Beach is one of the white sand beaches found in Miramar, right outside of Destin, FL. It’s a popular destination for family vacations and romantic getaways.
Reasons to Visit: Crystal Sands Beach has all you need in one place for an unforgettable vacation! The beach itself has all the amenities you need in one place to make for a perfect day soaking up the sun. You’ll find amenities like:
- Gear rentals (jet skis, paddleboards, and more)
- Picnic tables by the beach
- Sunbeds for tanning and lounging
- Changing rooms and public restrooms
- Plenty of parking
9. James Lee Beach
About James Lee Beach: James Lee Beach is a public beach that’s part of James Lee Park. The beach has crystal blue waters and soft white sand. It is located on the Walton/Okaloosa County line.
Reasons to Visit: Since this public beach is part of James Lee Park, there are many amenities that make a beach day here a breeze. This beach is perfect for families with younger children who want access to multiple amenities in one location. You’ll find amenities like:
- 3 pavilions
- Picnic tables
- A playground
- Restrooms with changing rooms
- 166 parking spaces
10. Grayton Beach State Park
About Grayton Beach State Park: Grayton Beach State Park is a 2,000-acre park with beach access in Destin, FL. It is nationally ranked among the top beaches in the United States.
Reasons to Visit: This is the perfect vacation spot for families who love to spend time outdoors. After a day soaking in the sun at Grayton Beach, you can enjoy paddling and fishing, explore over 4 miles of nature trails, and more. The park has campsites, RV sites, and cabin rentals available.
Conclusion to Best Beaches in Destin, FL
In short, you can see that there are some great beaches near Destin, FL for your next family vacation!
And if you’re looking for fun ways to explore Destin while you’re there, check out the video below:
Here are some other beach lists worth exploring as well:
- 6 Closest Beaches to Augusta, Georgia
- Beaches Closest to Columbia, SC
- Beaches Near Greenville, SC
- Best Beaches Near Macon, GA
- South Carolina’s Best Beaches to Call Home & Live In
My Favorite Tools for Planning a Trip
Booking.com. They have great deals and free cancellation usually.
VRBO. I have been both a guest and renter for VRBO. 20+ experiences over the years. All great.
Viator. I’m newer to this, but it’s a great spot to get ideas or discounted tickets.