Add a whole beach-full of sweet sugar-white sand to your summer vacation on Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast. The Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island and Destin area have plenty of powdery, white beach to spare, plus outdoor fun that just doesn’t quit. It’s exactly where your family wants to play this summer.

Recipe for Summer

Start with sugar-white sand beaches ground from ancient quartz rock, and add sparkling emerald-green waves, tranquil bay waters, rich habitats for fish and underwater marine life. Bake it under Florida sun and ta-da! There you have a delicious summer vacation that feels as though you’ve escaped to an entirely different world.

Inspired by Nature

Summertime is all about playing outdoors, and the Emerald Coast makes for a backyard adventure as relaxing or active as you like.

Take to the Gulf of Mexico on a sailing or fishing charter, or rent a Hobie Cat, powerboat or pontoon boat to captain your own adventure.

Destin is known as the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village because of its close proximity to deep, fish-fertile waters, where you can reel in snapper, grouper, marlin and sailfish. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphin playing in your boat’s wake. Some local charters specialize in spotting the mirthful creatures.

Or, if you prefer, rent a kayak to paddle the calmer waters of Choctawhatchee Bay and Santa Rosa Sound. In the backwaters and shallows, cast for sheepshead, channel bass and bluefish.

Then it’s time to hit the downy-soft beach. Take a walk on the welcoming sand, build a sandcastle, frolic in the waves or just get horizontal and contemplate the clouds. If you’re still in fishing mode, station your beach time at the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. Next to it, The Boardwalk has all your beach supplies, seafood, pizza and ice cream, plus a playground.

There’s also a playground and nature trail at Henderson Beach State Park in Destin. Beach accesses all along the Emerald Coast provide picnic venues and a wide lap of sand for playing beach games or stretching out under the sun.

Extremely Yours

If you’re looking to kick the excitement into high gear, try out a new water sport or perfect your skills at one of your favorites. Stand-up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, appeals to all ages and athletic abilities. On Florida-made YOLO boards, even first-timers are up, paddling and loving it.

Always wanted to scuba dive but not sure you’ll like it? SNUBA diving, a scuba-snorkeling hybrid, is another activity anyone can master with little training. It gives you a taste of scuba by allowing you to breathe air from a floating tank at the water’s surface. Thanks to the Emerald Coast’s proximity to the 100-fathom curve, you can snorkel and dive in deep, clear waters a short distance from shore.

Want something more extreme? Take a waterskiing lesson in the bay, learn to windsurf, try out kite-boarding or take to the sky on a parasail ride for two. Why not do a WaveRunner nature tour? Or rent a board at The Boardwalk and practice skim-boarding? When the waves swell, it’s time to surf. There’s no limit to the fun you can cook up outdoors when you add a cup of sugar-white sand to your summer escape.

This article was brought to you by the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. To plan your trip to the Emerald Coast, visit