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Florida's Emerald Coast Offers a Variety of Vacation Options

Aug 18, 2008
I've lived on the east coast of Florida for many years but it wasn't until recently that I spent a few days in the Panhandle. I was so surprised at how different it was from all the other places I had been in Florida, and I have been all over Florida. For one thing the water is a beautiful shade of emerald green and the beaches are white sand where as the water along the east coast are a beautiful clear blue and the beaches are a lovely oatmeal color, quite a contrast. One of the other things I noticed was how the area, especially around Destin, was so beautiful and peaceful. There were tree lined streets, small pastel painted houses, outdoor malls that were cleverly disguised as quaint wood framed buildings which held all the designer brands and labels and at least a dozen well manicured golf courses. I'm sure you've all heard of Florida Panhandle Beaches like Pensacola and Panama City Beach, but let me tell you about these great spots in between.

Dotted along the road between Destin and Panama City Beach are the picturesque, beachfront towns of Seaside, Watercolor, Sandestin and Miramar. These towns are small and homey, with tree lined streets and pastel painted houses; they look like something out of a movie. Hollywood thought so too, and so they decided to film the movie "The Truman Show", starring Jim Carey, in the town of Seaside. If you've ever been to Hilton Head in South Carolina, Sandestin is a lot like it; very understated and classy. Sandestin is known for its fabulous Golf courses and the Village of Baytowne Warf, which consists of 50 boutiques and specialty merchants which overlook Choctawhatchee Bay. Watercolor is small, approximately 500 acres, but packed with many resort and residential areas all just waiting to be rented for your perfect Florida vacation. Miramar is the place shop. Home of the Silver Sands Factory Stores, it is called the largest designer outlet center in the U.S.; they have over 100 designer outlet shops.

Navarre Beach has soft white sand, emerald green water and is one more place to stretch out and just relax. It's a great place to kayak along the shore or sail out and see what fish are biting today. Navarre Beach is the fastest growing community in Santa Rosa County, partly due to a new and scenic road that connects it to Pensacola Beach. While you can hit the greens for a round of golf at one of the many area courses, Navarre Beach is all about nature. Eight of the 12 miles of beach here are part of the Gulf Islands Natural Seashore and are federally protected. You can hike, picnic, bike along one of the trails, snorkel, fish and go boating. Try horseback riding or bird watching with the family; Navarre Beach is a great place to be still and get back to nature. They have many hotels, resorts and vacation rentals should you choose to vacation on the beach.

Destin is also known to be a big resort town and one of the most spectacular examples is the new Emerald Grande at Harbor Walk Village; this 5-star resort is located oceanfront and is available for weekly rentals. Even with an estimated 4.5 million people visiting the area, there are people who live in Destin year round, and according to a 2004 census, that number was reported to be just over 12,000 people

The East Pass, which is also called Destin Pass, is at the western tip of the peninsula and is the only outlet of Choctawhatchee Bay into the Gulf of Mexico. The claim has been made that this pass was dug by hand but it appears on early maps of the French, Spanish and English surveyors, so this is likely not true. The East Pass must be dredged on a regular basis in order for it to remain navigable, the first known map of the East Pass was drawn by Don Francisco Tapia, who was commissioned to survey the coast of Florida and draw the map.

The community of Destin has existed for over one hundred and fifty years and started as a humble fishing village. The city of Destin, FL can trace it's roots back to the 7th century A.D. when it is believed that the American Indians lived in the area. Destin is named for Captain Leonard Destin, who settled in Northwest Florida around 1845; he moved here from Connecticut and was a pioneer in the fishing industry. Today Destin is touted as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village" and claims the largest, best equipped fishing fleet in Florida docks are in Destin Harbor. When you visit, you can play golf, tennis and of course do anything you can think of on the water, including snorkeling and diving. If you'd like to charter a boat to do some fishing in the Gulf, you'll appreciate the fact that the 100 Fathom Curve is closer to Destin than any other spot in Florida, making it the fastest way to get to the deep waters in the Gulf.

No matter where you are in the Panhandle when the day is done, do yourself a favor pick a beach and make it a point to stop and just sit and watch the sunset, it's a memory you'll take with you and cherish for the rest of your life.
About the Author
Florida's Emerald Coast is home to Destin Pass, among the many things to do in Destin Florida are parasailing, dolphin watching and world class sport fishing. Other cities like Pensacola, Ft. Walton Beach and Panama City Beach are popular Florida Panhandle Beaches and are a known for white sand beaches and emerald green water.
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