264-The Emerald Coast of Florida
The name Emerald Coast sounds like a place from a fairy tale, but the truth is, it is far better than any storyteller’s fantasy land. Emerald Coast exists in reality as a place with stunning beachside cities, including Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, breathtaking, sugar-white beaches, enchanting emerald green waters, protected bays and bayous, quaint historic districts, military heritage, and hidden state parks. Located along the Northwest Florida Panhandle, between Pensacola and Panama City, on the east side of the St. Andrews Bay, this 100-mile narrow stretch of shoreline is said to have been given its name, ‘Emerald Coast’ in 1983, by a local junior high school student.
Early inhabitants in the region included several different Native American tribes around 500 B.C., and remnants of their civilization exist in the temple mounds and prehistoric middens surviving in Choctawhatchee Bay and Santa Rosa Sound. Indian hostility made settlement in the region difficult and it was not until the 1840s, at the end of the Creek and Seminole conflicts that the territory was opened up to new settlement. Today, Emerald Coast is a booming, yet not overly developed paradise that beckons to the explorers, adventurers, romantic, avid travelers, and simply anyone who ever imagined of a place like the Emerald Coast.
At the heart of the Emerald Coast are Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Okaloosa Island. Regarded as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin waters boast an abundance of thrilling aquatic life, including sea turtles, sharks, Man-O-War, jellyfish, stingrays, manatee, and dolphins, among numerous species of fish and invertebrates. Gator Beach is a stand alone alligator park that educates and excites, with alligator displays, real life alligator habitat, and Pearl - the Amazing Albino Alligator. Fort Walton Beach is home to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, that features regular live shows with trained dolphins and sea lions. Okaloosa Island is a barrier island known for its pristine beaches and incredible sand dunes. In Grayton Beach State Park, nature is beautifully displayed with sparkly white sand beaches, interpretive nature trail, beach dune, mesic, wet and scrubby flatwoods, sandhill, baygall, depression marsh, and coastal dune lake.
Emerald Coast has plenty to offer from sugar, white sand beaches, such as Wayside Park and Henderson Beach State Park, to sailing adventures, watersports, cruises, and scuba diving. Breathtaking beaches, inviting emerald green waters, diverse ecosystem and history are some of the treasures of Emerald Coast.
All sizes are approximate.