Are you looking for the best beaches in Destin, FL? You have come to the right place! We have a list of beaches in Destin (and nearby) that will make you want to throw your swimsuit on and head out the door!
Destin is located in Florida’s Panhandle, that strip of land to the north that sits on the Gulf of Mexico. The best beaches around Destin are on what is called the Emerald Coast. As the name suggests, these Panhandle Beaches tend to have beautiful emerald-colored waters.
In fact, most of Florida’s beaches on the Gulf of Mexico not only have a lovely color, but the water is warmer as well! This is thanks to the strong current of warm water from the Gulf Stream.
While there are many fun things to do in Destin, going to the best vacation beaches in Destin is at the top of the list. This will be easy to do, since almost wherever you stay in Destin will be steps away from the water.
Destin is surrounded by natural beauty and you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches around. However, we’ve narrowed it down to the very best Destin beaches.
So grab your sunscreen and get ready to dip your toes in the most beautiful beaches in Destin!
What is the prettiest beach in Destin?
Without a doubt, Henderson Beach State Park has the prettiest beach in Destin. As one of Florida’s state parks, the land is protected and thus its natural beauty is allowed to thrive. Henderson Beach actually has the last remaining coastal scrub area in the city.
Miles of white sand greet you as you cross a boardwalk over huge, sugary sand dunes to reach water that is a bright blue, warm, and clear. Sitting under an umbrella at Henderson Beach State Park is one of the best beach spots in Destin.
Which beach in Destin has the clearest water?
Of all the beaches in Destin, the one with the clearest water is probably Norriego Point. The clear, emerald water of Norriego Point is reminiscent of the Caribbean. It’s no wonder that Norriego Point is one of the most popular public beaches in Destin.
The Choctawhatchee Bay is able to filter sediment run-off so that by the time water reaches the Gulf it’s nice and clear! Since Norriego Point sits right at the point where Choctawhatchee Bay empties into the Gulf, it gets the clearest water. The water at Norriego Point is so clear that it makes it one of the best places in Florida for snorkeling.
Best Beaches In Destin
James Lee Beach
Just east of Henderson Beach State Park is James Lee Beach. This quaint spot is actually one of the nicest beaches in Destin.
Located within James Lee Park, James Lee Beach is clean and shallow so it’s a perfect spot to bring kids. Plus, there’s a playground!
Parking is free, and the beach is only a short walk from many of the hotels in the area. There are picnic areas, shaded pavilions, and restrooms located near the Crab Trap (one of the best restaurants in Destin).
James Lee Beach is also a popular spot for beach weddings! The turquoise water, so typical of the best beaches in Destin, will look stunning in your photos.
One of the most well-known beaches of Destin is Crab Island. And no, it’s not covered in crabs.
In fact, Crab Island isn’t an island. It was a man-made island that has eroded over the years into more of a sandbar. 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 options! You can either rent or charter a boat on your own. Alternatively, you can take the shuttle offered by The Crab Island Company, which leaves from Destin Harbor.
To find out more information about visiting one of the best beaches in Destin, check out our post about Tips for Visiting Crab Island.
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 absolutely 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 Destin beaches.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent, and there is parking, restroom facilities, and lifeguards during peak season. Miramar Beach is ADA accessible and has beach wheelchairs available.
As you’re relaxing on this beautiful beach, keep an eye out for dolphins!
If you’re looking for one of the best beaches in Destin to avoid the crowds, check out Princess Beach. Located off the Miracle Strip Parkway, this spot will make you feel like you have your own private beach in Destin.
Princess Beach is barely marked and is off a dirt turn-off, obscured by tall sand dunes. Be aware that Princess Beach is one of the most no-frills beaches in Destin. There are no restrooms or lifeguards, and the water can get a little rough.
So if you’re looking for seclusion, this little beach should do the trick. You’ll just be surrounded by lovely white sand and bright blue waves!
Henderson Beach State Park
As we mentioned before, Henderson Beach State Park has what is probably the best beach in Destin.
Henderson Beach is a great place for swimming and snorkeling, as the water temperature is a pleasant 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, be aware that a lifeguard will not be on duty, so make sure to keep an eye on the water condition flags! (Remember: purple flags mean stinging marine life has been spotted nearby and double red flags mean swimming is not permitted because of high currents or rip tides.)
Henderson Beach State Park is also one of the best places to go camping in Florida, if you’re lucky enough to secure one of the sixty available camping sites. You can fall asleep to the sound of waves after spending the day at one of the best beaches in Destin.
June White Decker Park
Located right along Scenic US Highway 98, June White Decker Park is one of the best public beaches in Destin. Nestled next to Henderson Beach State Park, June White Decker Park is a small, but popular beach spot.
June White Decker Park only has about 1,000 feet of shoreline, but those feet are made up of clean and soft white sand, and the water is clear and warm.
The beach at June White Decker Park can get a bit busy, as it is so centrally located. To beat the crowds, get to June White Decker Park early to stake out your spot. Or if you go later in the day you’ll have a beautiful sunset view.
There are restrooms and outdoor showers, as well as free parking and a bike rack.
Blue Mountain Beach
Another of the best beaches near Destin is Blue Mountain Beach. This charming, low-key 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 and thought they were mountains! Perhaps an easy mistake since blue lupine flowers grow on the dunes.
Parking at Blue Mountain Beach is available, though it is limited. There is also an outdoor shower and public restrooms.
When you are done sunbathing and swimming in the emerald water, head over to Blue Mountain Beach Creamery or Blue Mountain Bakery for a sweet treat!
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. In fact, there are seven beach access points with restrooms and dune walkovers along the three-mile-long Okaloosa Island.
At the complex called The Boardwalk, Okaloosa Island you can find shops, ice cream, volleyball courts, and restaurants.
Both the sand and the public restrooms on Okaloosa Island Beach are kept clean, and similarly to the best beaches in Destin, the water is clear enough to snorkel in.
Eglin Beach Park
For those with a Department of Defense (DOD) ID, one of the best beaches in Destin is Eglin Beach Park. Eglin Beach Park is open to all military ranks, retirees, family members, civilian personnel, federal facility contractors, and their guests as long that they have proper identification.
With bright white sand and stunning blue waters, Eglin Beach Park is a great place to get away. There are bathrooms and showers available, and you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas.
Be aware that there is a small parking fee, though there are plenty of parking spots.
Norriego Point Beach Park
Of course, as we said before, for one of the greatest beaches in Destin, head to Norriego Point Beach Park. It’s on the western part of town, near the end of Holiday Isle. Here you will find some of the clearest water in Destin.
With Destin Harbor on one side and the East Pass on the other side, Norriego Point offers some interesting views as well, including views of Destin Bridge.
Since it’s located in an inlet, the water at Norriego Point is also nice and warm! With its calm, clear water, Norriego is a perfect place for a relaxing day at one of the best beaches in Destin.
You might even see some crabs or sea turtles amongst the fish!
The beach at Norriego is a little bit of a walk from the parking lot, and there are no restrooms, but it’s absolutely worth it.
We hope you are able to spend some time at the vacation beaches in Destin. Whether you’re looking to relax, play, or both, there are some great beaches in Destin for every kind of activity.
With such beautifully clear and blue water, and that sugary white sand, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the beaches in Destin!