Public Beach Access

Claim your spot on our sugar-white sand!

Twenty-four miles of soft, sugar-white sand make Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida. While the sunshine state may offer over 1,800 miles of coastline, the shores of Destin-Fort Walton Beach provide access to the clear, emerald green water of the Gulf of Mexico unlike any other.

Why is our sand so white and our water so green? The beautiful quartz sand was delivered here by way of the Appalachian River, courtesy of the mountains of the same name, after the last ice age. Over time, as the deposit built, our coastline was formed. The quartz sand that remains beneath the water reflects the area’s abundant sunlight back through the waves to create the emerald hue of the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether you prefer to ride the waves behind your hotel, enjoy a private swim at your vacation home rental, or splash at one of the popular boardwalks and public beach accesses listed below, one thing is for sure–you won’t find softer sand or more brilliant water than Destin-Fort Walton Beach!


James Lee Park

If you will be enjoying a vacation on the east end of Destin, head to James Lee Park and check out the expansive boardwalk. Marked by the Crab Trap restaurant, this access offers plenty of parking, three pavilions, 41 picnic tables and a playground. Oh, and let’s not forget the ever-important restrooms, complete with changing tables. Enjoy a wonderful day out on the sand and be sure to grab a fantastic drink or lunch from the restaurant!

Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park in Destin boasts more than 6,000 feet of scenic shoreline, dotted with beautiful dune rosemary and sand pines. In addition to ample access to the beach, the park offers wandering boardwalks ideal for viewing area wildlife, pavilions perfect for picnics, and playgrounds for the kids. Camping, fishing and even geocaching are also available. This beach is perfect for weddings and is even pet-friendly! Be sure to grab some cash before departing for the park, as there is a small entrance fee to this public access point.

Fort Walton Beach + Okaloosa Island

Okaloosa Island Boardwalk

In addition to being a fantastic public beach access point, the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island is also the place to dine, play and shop during your Fort Walton Beach vacation! Soak up the sun or enjoy a pick-up game of volleyball on the public courts. Then, make your way up to the boardwalk to grab lunch, ice cream, beach essentials or dinner before one of the free community events, such as the Wednesday night fireworks, that take place weekly all summer long.

John Beasley Park

Just west of the boardwalk is another great access point that offers pavilions ideal for a picnic lunch, food and beverage vendors and the all-important restrooms, John Beasley Park! A low-key, family-friendly vibe, ample parking, seasonal lifeguards and an expansive stretch of sand make this a great place to hang out under the sun.

Okaloosa Island Numbered Accesses

Dotted between the vacation rentals and hotels on Okaloosa Island are seven additional beach access points. All offer parking, although limited, as well as seasonal lifeguards. While picnic areas and restrooms are available, that’s all you will find here at these laid-back, simple boardwalks. Pack your cooler and a bag of snacks. Once you’ve settled into your spot, you won’t want to leave.


Little Adventures

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

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Healthy Risk-Taking For Teens + Tweens Through Adventure Travel

Healthy Risk-Taking For Teens + Tweens Through Adventure Travel “Be careful! Watch out! Get down!” As a parent, you’ve probably shouted those phrases multiple times to your children as they played and explored the world around them. Protecting our children is our utmost responsibility, and it can be hard to…

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Trip Ideas

While beachgoers can lay out on the sand, shoppers can stroll down the HarborWalk Village and savor plates of Gulf-to-Table seafood. What will you do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach?

Three kids search for marine life with nets on the shores of Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Adapting water activities for kids of multiple ages

Adapting water activities for kids of multiple ages This post was written by Sara McCarty, founder of Run Wild My Child, in partnership with Destin-Fort Walton Beach. If you have more than one kid, you know that it’s often hard to find activities that keep multiple kids of…

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Stingray in the ocean

How to tell Manta Rays and Stingrays apart

Out of all the wildlife you may spot in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, one of the most distinctive is a ray gliding through the water like a flat alien spaceship.

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sailboat during sunset

Sailing in Destin-Fort Walton Beach

Have you gone sailing yet?  You can’t beat the beautiful water on the Gulf of Mexico.  Here are a few options for a sailing experience you won’t forget.

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April 1, 2023

Kitty Hawk Kites Fly into Spring

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