Destin, Florida, is located in the heart of the Sunshine State’s Emerald Coast. It sits between two bookend cities that are well known as vacation destinations. Coming across the Destin bridge from Okaloosa Island, which sits between Fort Walton and Destin, gives us a nice view of the Choctawhatchee Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
The Harbor Walk Marina, (pictured, right) stands point guard at the entrance of Destin Harbor. Destin’s beach can be reached by going another mile south on Harbor Boulevard to Gulf Shore Drive.
Harbor Walk Marina has plenty of things to do and see. It is a great place to shop, eat and drink. Most of the bars and grills face the harbor and Destin Beach.
We have lunch at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar. AJ’s has an upper deck that provides awesome views of the Gulf (pictured, right). There is no lack of boats or sailing vessels parading by to keep our attention focused on them and the two-tone blue horizon.
Destin’s world famous beach is within view from Harbor Walk Marina’s boardwalk. The bright white sands distinctively outline the emerald water. Walking the beach in Destin has the similarity to snow shoeing in or around an open valley with freshly laid powder. They both offer a soft, white surface to walk on. The differences are the temperatures and the lapping waves against the granulated shoulder.
The latest trend in water sports is propelling upwards using water propulsion jet packs (shown, upper right). From AJ’s upper deck we watch this craze as gravity is defied using thrust from water below. The acrobatic moves from the daredevil sportsmen keep us entertained for a few minutes.
We finish our lunch and stroll up and down the boardwalk. The harbor anchors many types of vessels. Some are for personal use and others offer charter services for excursions and tours. The are plenty of small shops selling anything from nautical-themed knick knacks to Florida souvenirs, clothes and other specialty gifts. The condo clan towers that look over the harbor and out to the serene waters of the Gulf are a perfect spot to stay while on vacation. I would guess that the skyward condos are not cheap, but offer a dream location for someone who loves the beach and the panoramic views.
We travel a little farther down the road to a small beach community that shares their utopia with a couple bars and grills. One in particular that catches our eye is Pompano Joe’s Seafood House. We pull into the parking lot and notice it is full of out-of-state license plates. The nautical beach hut-styled establishment is in full swing with its popular happy hour specials. The front patio, beach side deck and open air indoor area are jam-packed with partying locals and fun loving tourist. We join the party and order a few beverages and appetizer specials.
Afterwards, we take a relaxing walk down the beach as the sunny day turns to dusk. We feel the soft sand between our toes and the warm tempered surf gently splash over our feet in rhythm. The marine life (pictured, right) is abundant and exciting to see in its natural habitat. It is time for us to return to our boutique resort in Fort Walton. When we get back, we take a relaxing dip in the pool and enjoy the rest of the afternoon on our lani (outdoor balcony).
The Fort Walton/Destin area is a paradise waiting to happen for anyone willing to experience the beautiful emerald waters, white sandy beaches and near perfect weather. The accommodations vary from high-end to simple and unique style resorts. No matter where they are located, they aren’t far from shopping, water attractions, restaurants and a fun loving atmosphere.
Author: Anthony Scopel
Photographer: Anthony Scopel
Editor: Sheri L. Thompson
Technical Mastering & Support: Matt Kemper