5 places to explore when you rent a boat

When you arrive in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, the stunning views of the emerald waters and sugar-white sand are truly breathtaking. You may have a sweet spot in a waterfront vacation home with a balcony to enjoy a cup of coffee or cocktail out in the coastal air.

Even if you’re new to water activities, it’s totally worth making yourself part of the spectacular water action. Get out on the water yourself on your own rental boat, and explore the many picturesque places along our part of Northwest Florida.

1. Spectre Island (Hurlburt Island)

Rent a boat and take the journey from Okaloosa Island into Santa Rosa Sound — an inlet connecting Pensacola Bay to Choctawhatchee Bay — to Spectre Island, also known as Hurlburt Island. The U.S. Army Corps of engineers created the island as part of a dredging project, and it is now a free, public space to explore. When you rent a boat to Spectre Island, you can anchor your pontoon here for a secluded, quiet walk on the island or for swimming and fishing.

2. Norriego Point

Take a boat from the Destin Harbor to Norriego Point, a charming peninsula on Holiday Isle. Here you can beach your pontoon boat and jump onto the sand or into the water, ready for adventure. Take a leisurely stroll, and watch the boats come and go in the Destin Harbor and marinas or snorkel the tide pools for your next treasure. There’s a shimmering brightness to Norriego Point, with its crystalline emerald waters and white sand below and the blue skies above. Venture out this way by boat, and find out how easy it is to relax in Destin.

3. & 4. Destin Harbor and Canals

The stop at Norriego Point is just the beginning of your boating excursion from Destin Harbor. As Destin’s HarborWalk Village is bustling with people, it’s worth a self-guided or captain-guided boat tour through the many canals adjacent to Destin Harbor with beautiful homes along the water’s edge. It’s a chance to get a feel for the local, residential Destin. Insulated by the Harbor, it’s a good spot for smaller boats and paddleboards as you hone your skills. Practice turns on canal cul-de-sacs as you’ll need to return the way you came to get to the next canal “street” and more unique, waterfront real estate.

5. Gulf Islands National Seashore

Explore the Okaloosa Island area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore by boat! While you cannot take your boat to shore, you can anchor along the shoreline. Note that unless you are using a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, the boat launch on Okaloosa Island cannot accommodate larger, motorized watercraft or trailers.

This section of the Gulf Islands National Seashore is part of the U.S. National Park Service and is a protected coastal area. It’s a top destination for your boat outing especially if you want to see native wildlife.

Whether boating is in your blood or you’re brand new to it, renting a boat in Destin and Fort Walton Beach presents many excellent, relaxing opportunities to explore our waterways and beaches.

Planning a trip? Be sure to get your official Destin-Fort Walton Beach Visitors Guide here.

CAN’T MISS EXPERIENCES

Little Adventures

Explore bite-sized adventures for the whole family. Use the filters below or browse all of our Little Adventures.

by age

by price

by duration

Events in Destin-Fort Walton Beach

It’s always the best time of the year to visit Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Mild temperatures and warm gulf waters make the area enjoyable no matter the season. And with a running lineup of exciting local events and festivals, there’s always something to do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach!

Burgers, Bourbon and Beer Festival

September 23, 2023

Burgers, Bourbon and Beer Festival

For the third year, the highly anticipated Burgers, Bourbon, &…

See details
Dog Daze

October 7, 2023

Dog Daze

A tail-wagging event for you and your dog. Save the…

See details
Destin Seafood Festival

October 6, 2023 - October 8, 2023

Destin Seafood Festival

One of Destin’s most celebrated traditions, the Destin Seafood Festival…

See details