NORTHWEST FLORIDA BEACHES
Northwest Florida beaches are some of the best in Florida, and some of the most beautiful in the world.
Many years ago I was a naval aviation cadet flying out of Pensacola.
The Northwest Florida beaches I flew over back then were the most undeveloped and pristine beaches in the United States.
Florida travel in those days was usually on US-90 or US-98. I-10 was in the distant future.
The huge crush of retirees was decades away. It was hard to imagine this stretch of wilderness ever being anything different.
That was then. There has been much development, but plenty of remote Northwest Florida beaches still remain to be explored.
Northwest Florida still has the longest whitest stretch of beautiful soft sand beaches in the state.
Although some of the beaches get fairly crowded, especially in the season (summer), they are generally not as crowded as those in the rest of the state.
One exception is Panama City Beach. It has been discovered by college students and is the location of "Spring Break".
These are among the best Northwest Florida beaches:
PERDIDO KEY AND PENSACOLA TO FORT WALTON BEACH
This is one of Northwest Florida's major vacation destinations, and its beaches are a large part of the reason why.
Northwest Florida citizens are trying to avoid the mistakes that
have turned much of the rest of Florida into beachfront canyons.
Preservation efforts are very strong, including limiting
development to preserve the habitat of the endangered Perdido Key Beach
- Pensacola Beach.
The entire stretch of Santa Rosa Island has beautiful white sand
beaches. Pensacola Beach has a wonderful 8 mile long beach, and also
has plenty of restaurants, shops and bars with entertainment.
- Gulf Islands National Seashore.
This is a 150 mile stretch of protected shoreline in Florida and
Mississippi. The Florida portion of the seashore features offshore
islands with sparkling white sand beaches, historic fortifications, and
nature trails. Mainland features near Pensacola, Florida, include the
Naval Live Oaks Reservation, beaches, and military forts. All Florida
areas are accessible by automobile. It has beautiful white sand beaches
and hundreds of species of birds.
- Perdido Key State Park is a secluded 247-acre barrier island about 15 miles southwest of Pensacola. A great spot for picnics and nature watching.
- Santa Rosa, Ed Walline Park.
There are several public beach-access points in the town of Santa
Rosa. Ed Walline Park is a popular one. You access the beach from a
boardwalk, down 25 steps to its silky sands. Lifeguards are on duty here
during the summer season.
- Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is
one of the most beautiful beaches on Santa Rosa Island. The 1,640 acre
park is home to a dramatic landscape, including sand dunes topping 14
feet and old-growth long-leaf pine forests bordering a quiet and
unspoiled 3.2-mile shoreline.
FORT WALTON BEACH AND DESTIN TO PANAMA CITY.
Homes here are generally more beachey and cottage style as
opposed to the opulent mansions seen elsewhere on the ocean in Florida.
- Seaside is the crown jewel in this area of
Northwest Florida. It is a new urban village of Florida Cracker
designed homes. It quaint and ancient, although it's not yet 30 years
It has one of the best Northwest Florida beaches, as do the neighboring villages of Grayton Beach and Seagrove Beach.
- Grayton Beach State Park has one of the
most beautiful beaches as well, and in addition to conventional
campsites they have some reasonably priced camping cabins.
PANAMA CITY TO ST. GEORGE ISLAND
This is an extremely fast growing area. In many ways it reminds
me of Miami 30 years ago. Dozens of new developments, high rise
condominiums, a major airport expansion and a lot of business activity
show that this an up and coming area.
- Panama City Beach has beautiful beaches and
there are thousands of beachfront vacation accommodations. It also has a
lot of clear water and is great for diving. On the downside, it gets
loud and rowdy during annual Spring Break!
- Mexico Beach. A small southern town on the
Gulf of Mexico. Lots of good fishing in the surf, and quiet swimming
beaches. Lots of shops and seafood restaurants. A feeling of Florida
Cracker community among the Northwest Florida beaches.
- St. George Island State Park. Enjoy 9 miles of
undeveloped, isolated beach graced by tall sand dunes. Camping sites
are available. Great fishing for sea trout, redfish, mackerel and other
species. Several good nearby restaurants and watering holes in spite of
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2023
Florida Back Roads Travel is not affiliated with or endorsed by Backroads, a California-based tour operator which arranges and conducts travel programs throughout the world.