A day at the beach should be filled with plenty of fun, sunshine, adventure, and relaxation. The public beaches are watched over by county lifeguards; all lifeguards are academy trained to the advanced level of the United States Lifesaving Association’s open water standard. They are also medically trained as first responders in accordance with the USDOT & NREMT standard curriculum. While the lifeguards are always ready to assist in an emergency situation, there are many precautions you can take to ensure a safe day on the Emerald Coast.
For your safety, know what the beach flag colors mean and where to fin the latest information.
Flag Warning System:
Pay close attention to the flag warning system. Even if the sky is sunny and the winds gentle, currents and surf could pose dangers. Avoid swimming when red flags are flying and remember knee deep is too deep when yellow flags are posted.
Rip currents are formed when water rushes out in a narrow path, like rivers through the surf. Often mistakenly called undertows, these powerful currents pull even experienced swimmers away from shore, but not under the water. Rip currents may form in breaks in near shore sandbars. They are rarely more than 30 feet wide, but they can extend 1,000 feet offshore, reach 100 feet in width and travel up to 3 mph. Some are present a few hours; others are permanent. Rip currents are more prevalent after storms.
Before you head to the beach, check the tide tables and solunar tables for the Emerald Coast. You can get the forecast for high tides, low tides, hours of maximum fish activity, weather conditions, and other useful information.
If you’re planning a trip to Destin, Florida here are some of the frequently asked questions. Know before you go. Unmet expectations ruin vacations. We researched some of the most frequently asked questions about Destin, Florida, and have posted them below for you to review.
QUESTION: I want to have my wedding on the beach! Do I need a permit?
ANSWER: All groups of 20 or more wishing to gather or hold an event of any kind on city-owned property are required to secure a Park Event Permit through the Destin Parks & Recreation Department. Examples include, but are not limited to; weddings, anniversary parties, family reunions, company picnics, sporting events, and private parties. You can learn more about these permits on the City Of Destin’s official website.
QUESTION: Where can I get a marriage license?
ANSWER: Simply visit the Okaloosa County Courthouse.
QUESTION: I’m bringing my boat to Destin. Where can I put it in the water?
ANSWER: There are several places to launch your boat in Destin. Get Info here.
QUESTION: I’m bringing my RV to Destin is there somewhere I can park it?
ANSWER: There are a few different RV parks in the area, however, Henderson Beach State Park is within the Destin city limits.
BEACH WHEELCHAIRS — To request a beach wheelchair, please call the Destin Fire Control District at (850) 837-8413.
DOGS — For safety reasons, dogs are not allowed on the beaches in Okaloosa County. This policy is mandated by County Ordinance No. 77-19, Section 6, restricting dogs in public parks, beaches, school grounds, restaurants and food stores (except seeing eye & hearing ear dogs). Instead, please visit the City of Destin’s Nancy Weidenhamer Dog Park located at 4100 Indian Bayou Trail.
GLASS — Per city ordinance, glass is not allowed on the beach.
ALCOHOL — Alcohol is allowed on the beach but not in the state parks. Again, no glass bottles, etc. Underage drinking is not permitted.
LITTERING — No littering on the beach, and no glass containers on the beach. Trash receptacles are provided at all public beach accesses. We support the “Leave No Trace” policy. In order to maintain our beautiful beaches, we ask that take anything you bring with you to the beach. Items left on the beach overnight will be removed by City of Destin staff and kept for one week at the City of Destin’s Public Services Maintenance Yard. To retrieve any items, you must make an appointment by calling (850) 837-4242.
BONFIRES / BEACH FIRES — According to Okaloosa County Ordinance 79-41, fires are illegal on the beach between the water’s edge and mean high water mark or vegetation line (whichever is further).
FIREWORKS — Fireworks are prohibited on Destin beaches.
SAND REMOVAL — It is unlawful to remove sand from the beach.
PEDESTRIAN ACCESS — Per Okaloosa County regulations, no one should block or impede the right of pedestrian access within 20 feet of the water’s edge.
VEHICLES — Here in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area, we promote optimal safety measures for our beaches. According to County Ordinance No. 80-12, which restricts motor vehicles operating in areas not posted for vehicular traffic, in, on or over any public land, right of way, or recreational areas, vehicles are not permitted on the beach (public beaches included).
PARKING — All of the public beach parks we list on this page have public parking ranging from nine parking spots to over 300 parking spots. Other large beach access points, like the Boardwalk, also offer free public parking.
CAMPING — Overnight camping is prohibited.
BEACH EQUIPMENT — According to the City of Destin, you can place pop-up canopies on beaches within the city limits. But the beach you’re visiting may have its own regulations on outside beach equipment, so check ahead. Do not leave canopies on the beaches overnight because they may interfere with the beach cleaning services or possible turtle nesting activities.
FISHING FROM THE SHORELINE — A saltwater fishing license is required by all angler who fish in saltwater. This includes each person fishing from a pleasure craft, on a sandbar or any other land mass accessible by boat or by swimming through water deeper than four feet. You should contact the Okaloosa County Tax Collector’s office at 850-651-7300 or you can purchase a license online.
SAND DUNES — Do not walk or play on the dunes at any time. Never walk on beach vegetation. Always use the designated beach access. Dunes are built slowly over hundreds of years and are very fragile. They are our primary defense against hurricane damage and are a shelter for beach wildlife.
SEA TURTLES — Our beaches are a nesting ground for sea turtles from May through October. Here is how to help. (1) Prevent all lights from illuminating the beach. (2) Look but don’t touch. Disturbing is a federal and state violation. (3) Please fill holes in the sand. (4) Remove any litter.