10 Best Beaches on the Emerald Coast – From Panama City to Destin

THE Emerald Coast is one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world with the amazing beaches and blazing hot sun blessing the Floridian waterfront.

Millions of tourists head to the seaside in the west of the Sunshine State every year, but where are the best spots?

1. Destin Beach

Destin Beach is central location of the Emerald Coast with idyllic white sandy shores and incredible waters (Flickr/Phanatic)
Destin Beach is central location of the Emerald Coast with idyllic white sandy shores and incredible waters (Flickr/Phanatic)

Destin Beach, often referred to as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” is a renowned destination on the Emerald Coast.

The beach boasts powdery white sand that feels soft underfoot and striking emerald-colored waters that sparkle in the sunlight.

The calm and clear ocean makes it ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and paddleboarding, while fishing enthusiasts can charter boats to venture out into the deep sea for a chance to catch a variety of fish species, including snapper, grouper, and amberjack.

Destin’s shores are lined with beachfront resorts, restaurants, and shops, offering visitors a vibrant and convenient beach experience.

2. Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach is as beautiful during the day as it is at sunset with beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico (Flickr/jpellgen)
Grayton Beach is as beautiful during the day as it is at sunset with beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico (Flickr/jpellgen)

Grayton Beach State Park is a hidden gem nestled along the Emerald Coast.

The beach is part of a pristine state park that features diverse ecosystems, including coastal dune lakes, towering sand dunes, and lush forests.

Grayton Beach itself offers a serene and untouched coastal experience with the soft sand and gentle surf making it perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, and beachcombing.

The park provides various recreational activities, such as hiking and biking trails that wind through the natural beauty of the area, while visitors can also rent canoes or kayaks to explore the coastal dune lakes that are unique and rare ecosystems.

3. Santa Rosa Beach

Hotels and houses line the shores of Santa Rosa Beach with its spectacular white sand and blue waters attracting tourists every year (Flickr/James Cage)
Hotels and houses line the shores of Santa Rosa Beach with its spectacular white sand and blue waters attracting tourists every year (Flickr/James Cage)

Located along the scenic highway 98, Santa Rosa Beach is a charming coastal community known for its pristine beaches and laid-back atmosphere.

The beach features sugar-white sand and inviting turquoise waters, creating a picturesque setting for sun-seekers.

Santa Rosa Beach offers ample space for beachgoers to relax, play beach volleyball, or engage in water activities like paddleboarding and kayaking.

Meanwhile, the community has an artistic and bohemian vibe, with art galleries, local boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants dotting the area.

Visitors can also explore the nearby Point Washington State Forest just a couple of miles to the east, which offers hiking and biking trails amidst a tranquil forest setting.

4. Crystal Sands Beach

Crystal Sands Beach is peaceful and full of beauty along with views looking out to the Gulf of Mexico (Flickr/ruthdaniel3444)
Crystal Sands Beach is peaceful and full of beauty along with views looking out to the Gulf of Mexico (Flickr/ruthdaniel3444)

Crystal Sands Beach, located in the community of Miramar Beach, is a hidden gem that offers a tranquil and picturesque coastal experience.

The beach features powdery white sand and sparkling turquoise waters, creating a postcard-worthy setting.

Crystal Sands Beach provides a peaceful atmosphere for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing, while the calm waters are perfect for wading or taking leisurely swims.

The area surrounding the beach offers a variety of vacation rentals, resorts, and beachfront dining options, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay for visitors.

5. Seaside Beach

Seaside Beach sits on the coast of the town of the same name that is considered a master-planned community built on undeveloped land (Flickr/paigeh)
Seaside Beach sits on the coast of the town of the same name that is considered a master-planned community built on undeveloped land (Flickr/paigeh)

Seaside Beach gained fame as the filming location for the movie The Truman Show, and it continues to captivate visitors with its charm and unique character.

The beach is part of the Seaside community, a master-planned town known for its pastel-coloured houses and New Urbanist design.

Seaside Beach offers a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for leisurely walks along the shoreline, picnics, and sunbathing, while it is backed by a lively town centre with boutique shops, art galleries, and outdoor cafes, creating a vibrant and welcoming ambiance.

6. Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park is just over three miles outside of Destin but much quieter than its neighbour (Flickr/Rex)
Henderson Beach State Park is just over three miles outside of Destin but much quieter than its neighbour (Flickr/Rex)

Henderson Beach State Park is a hidden oasis along the Emerald Coast, offering a pristine and secluded beach experience.

The park features a mile-long stretch of untouched shoreline bordered by rolling sand dunes covered in sea oats and other native vegetation.

The beach provides a tranquil setting for sunbathing, picnicking, and beachcombing, while visitors can take nature walks along the park’s hiking trails that wind through a coastal forest teeming with wildlife.

Henderson Beach State Park also offers camping facilities, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area overnight.

7. Okaloosa Island

Okaloosa Island forms a part of Santa Rosa Island with its beaches spanning three miles along the coast (Flickr/Jeff)
Okaloosa Island forms a part of Santa Rosa Island with its beaches spanning three miles along the coast (Flickr/Jeff)

Okaloosa Island, situated near Fort Walton Beach, is a barrier island that offers a blend of natural beauty and family-friendly attractions.

The island’s beaches are characterized by their fine, white sand and calm waters, making them ideal for families with children with visitors able to swim, build sandcastles, or simply relax on the shores.

Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier is a popular spot for anglers to cast their lines and try their luck at catching a variety of fish species.

Meanwhile, the island also offers beachfront parks with amenities such as picnic areas, playgrounds, and walking paths, providing additional recreational options for visitors of all ages.

8. Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore sits just to the east of Penascola Beach on Santa Rosa Island (Flickr/Brent Moore)
Gulf Islands National Seashore sits just to the east of Penascola Beach on Santa Rosa Island (Flickr/Brent Moore)

The Gulf Islands National Seashore is a protected area that encompasses a series of barrier islands along the Gulf of Mexico, including parts of the Emerald Coast.

These pristine islands are characterised by their untouched beaches, sand dunes, and diverse ecosystems.

Visitors can explore the secluded beaches, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and marvel at the unspoiled coastal landscapes, while the national seashore also offers opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, boating, and camping.

Nature enthusiasts can take guided tours or embark on self-guided hikes to discover the natural wonders of these barrier islands.

9. Navarre Beach

Navarre Beach is connected to the mainland Navarre community via a 200m bridge that stretches over the Santa Rosa Sound (Flickr/Michael McLean)
Navarre Beach is connected to the mainland Navarre community via a 200m bridge that stretches over the Santa Rosa Sound (Flickr/Michael McLean)

Navarre Beach is a tranquil and unspoiled beach destination along the Emerald Coast, which features powdery white sand and clear turquoise waters, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere.

The Floridian hotspot is less crowded compared to some of the more popular beaches, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and solitude.

Visitors can take long walks along the shoreline, collect seashells, or simply lounge under beach umbrellas while enjoying the gentle sea breeze.

The nearby Navarre Beach Marine Park offers opportunities for snorkelling, scuba diving and fishing, with an artificial reef system just off the coast.

10. Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach sits on the east of the Emerald Coast with close to 30 miles of incredible sandy shores (Flicker/Domenico Convertini)
Panama City Beach sits on the east of the Emerald Coast with close to 30 miles of incredible sandy shores (Flicker/Domenico Convertini)

Panama City Beach is a vibrant and energetic beach destination on the Emerald Coast, known for its lively atmosphere and wide range of entertainment options.

The beach stretches for 27 miles and offers sugar-white sand and emerald-green waters. with visitors able to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and beach sports like volleyball and frisbee, while Panama City Beach is also famous for its water activities, including jet skiing, parasailing, and snorkelling.

The area boasts numerous beachfront resorts, restaurants, and beach clubs, where visitors can indulge in delicious seafood, live music, and exciting nightlife.

This content was produced by an AI and edited by the team at BestBeaches.