Spectre Island is a hidden gem in the Santa Rosa Sound perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and kayaking without the crowds.

Also known as Hurlburt Island, the U.S. Army Corps created Spectre Island as part of a dredging project including six smaller spoil islands in the area. Now a free, public space to explore, the island honors 22 crew members who lost their lives in the line of duty with a sign that greets guests.

Small enough to walk its perimeter in a few minutes, this relatively unknown island offers a more intimate experience and is easily accessible by rental boat. The beach’s sand slopes slowly toward the channel, leaving plenty of room for children to safely play in the shallows. The island also boasts a nice stretch of “dry beach” where visitors can safely build campfires or camp during the summer.

Once there, you can see the jets take off from Hurlburt Field, snorkel, or plan a family picnic by the water. Best known for its abundant wildlife, Spectre Island offers plenty of exploration opportunities for those staying nearby.

Okaloosa Island

Okaloosa Island, a narrow 3-mile area on the eastern end of Santa Rosa Island, boasts the closest Gulf-front accommodations. Whether you’re seeking hotels or condos, budget or luxury, you’ll find countless places to stay near boat rentals that will take you directly to Spectre Island.

Staying on Okaloosa Island gives you quick access to the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk, where you’ll find easy beach access, delicious food, and perfect souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Staying here also means you’ll have quick access to pristine nature via a short drive or scenic walk.

The Island, by Hotel RL

This newly renovated beachside resort on Fort Walton Beach features 600 feet of private, sugar white beachfront, spacious beach suites, and comfortable poolside rooms. The Island resort offers beautiful views and outstanding amenities, including a private beach, heated pools, and a swim-up bar that will ensure your trip is memorable. The resort is located right across the street from Island Time where guests can rent a pontoon boat to Spectre Island, enjoy a tasty waterfront dinner, or listen to pianists face off at Captain Jack’s Dueling Piano Bar.

Destin West RV Resort

Perfect for road-trippers and “glampers,” the Destin West RV Resort is directly on the bay and right across the street from the white, sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast. Guests enjoy full access to all amenities of The Island by Hotel RL, while staying in the comfort of their own home on wheels. Walking distance from boat rentals, Destin West RV Resort is a great starting point for your Spectre Island adventure.

However you decide to explore and wherever you stay, Spectre Island is sure to be a memorable experience.