On Emerald Waters – Salty Adventures in Destin / Fort Walton Beach, FL


By Chelle Koster Walton

Brilliant white sand and gemlike emerald waters make Destin and Fort Walton Beach a standout destination for water-lovers

Sparkling just like the gems that lend the Emerald Coast its name, the Gulf of Mexico waters around Destin and Fort Walton Beach mesmerize and entice with the promise of adventure and abundant marine life. You can’t help but succumb to the song of the sea and the countless opportunities to splash and feel the sand between your toes.


With a reputation as “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin practically mandates a fishing adventure. It lies closer to the 100-fathom curve than any other point along the Gulf of Mexico. That means the shortest distance possible between you and deep-water fish. The largest boat in the Destin Harbor fleet, American Spirit schedules trips lasting four to eight hours. It travels eight to 15-plus miles offshore to catch—depending on the season—vermillion snapper, red grouper, wahoo and king mackerel.


The stars of the local marine cast, dolphins love to play in the wake of boats and show off their antics and infectious smiles. Southern Star claims the distinction of being the original dolphin cruise in these parts. Staff not only find dolphin from aboard the 90-foot glass-bottom boat, they educate guests about dolphin lifestyles and local history. Fun for families, the captain invites little ones to drive the boat during the two-hour cruise.

Divers encounter dolphin, manatees and other sea creatures in clear Emerald Coast waters


Snorkelers and certified scuba divers alike can choose excursions ranging from a 2.5 hour snorkeling discovery of the Destin Jetties to four-hour, two-dive adventures exploring the natural and manmade reefs and wrecks along the coast. Dive depths range from 60 to 85 feet where windowpane-clear waters reveal beguiling and vital populations of fish, dolphin, manatees (on occasion) and other fascinating aquatic life. PADI scuba instruction is also available at all levels. Dive in here.

Charter and tour operators offer everything from sailing to glass-bottom boat excursions


For one-stop water sports shopping, you can depend upon Fudpucker’s years of experience. It stocks all of the on-the-water toys and tours to make your vacation an amazing aquatic adventure. Hire a parasail ride for up to three people and 800 feet of fly-high thrills and optimal emerald water views. Rent a Jet Ski or pontoon boat to captain your own adventure. You can also join a 90-minute Jet Ski dolphin tour. When you need a good paddle, see Fudpucker’s for kayak and paddleboard rentals and delivery.

Ready to book your Destin / Fort Walton Beach getaway? Get started at allegiant.com today!


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