USA Flag  Attractions and Activities of the Panhandle's Gulf Coast - Emerald Coast - 1




Perdido Key Perdido Key State Park Pensacola Pensacola Beach Navarre Beach Navarre Beach State Park


Help yourself to the attractions and activities on thenavarre-beach-scene.JPG (27459 bytes) Gulf Coast of Florida's western Panhandle: the cities and parks of Escambia County and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Take one look at the shoreline here and you'll know why they call this the Emerald Coast. As with most of the western Panhandle beaches, these are shallow and tame and have sand so soft and fine you'll sink up to your ankles. You can swim in waters so crystal clear that you'll see your own shadow on the sandy bottom! The cities are older and newer; the area boasting historical and military attractions as well as resorts for tennis, golf and the standard Florida activities of thrill rides, arcades and miniature golf. 


Travel to one city from others shown on this page is fairly quick and easy. From the most westward - Perdido Key - to the most eastward - Navarre Beach - is less than an hour. There are more attractions and activities inland from the coast including many golf courses, kayaking and canoeing in several rivers, the Blackwater River State Park in Blackwater River State Forest and the paved hiking/biking Blackwater Heritage State Trail, in Milton.


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Perdido Key

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Perdido Key skyline Perdido Key view from State Park. May 2005: After the beating from Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Vista del Mar Condo was badly damaged and the seaside wing appears to be sinking.
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Pictures of beachfront houses along Highway US 98 in Perdido Key and the bridge (end picture) to Perdido Key from the mainland.


The barrier island of Perdido Key is as west as it gets in the Florida Panhandle along the Gulf Coast because the western part of Perdido Key is in Alabama. Perdido Key is a narrow strip of land and most of the condos and housing lie along or just off of Route 98, which runs down the center of the island. There is a bridge off the western end in Alabama and on the eastern end to mainland Florida, where shopping is accomplished. The eastern edge of the city is bordered by Perdido Key State Park, a large, natural beachfront park on the Gulf of Mexico.

Perdido Key State Park

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View of the Gulf of Mexico through the sand dunes.


 More sand dunes and a view of the eastern end of the city.


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Big Lagoon borders the northern edge of the park where there are wooded areas and a boat ramp.


Perdido Key State Park is a 247 acre barrier island attraction filled with snow white, ankle-deep, powdery-soft sand. Emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico wash the long shores of this native beach. Scrub-covered sand dunes are a treat to view and the back bay waters of Big Lagoon offer fishing, boating and kayaking fun. Permanent (except for Hurricane Ivan damage) facilities for sanitation, parking and picnicking are available.


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Pensacola Lighthouse


Palafax Pier Aircraft Carrier Museum of Naval Aviation Bridge and causeway to beach 
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Pictures of the Pensacola historic downtown area.


Escambia County Courthouse

Along Bayfront Parkway.


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Pensacola historic downtown includes the former residential area with restored houses dating back to the mid-1800's. Many of the former residences have been restored and now serve as offices for upscale businesses, bed and breakfasts, etc.


Pensacola is the largest deep water port in Northwest Florida. Settled during the mid-1700's, many of the city's restored structures date back almost as far. The historic downtown commercial and residential areas have many buildings in the US Historic Registry and provide for an interesting tour as part of the areas activities and attractions. The US Navy's presence in Pensacola is felt everywhere and at the Naval Air Station you can climb the steps of the Pensacola Lighthouse and visit the Museum of Naval Aviation. Check for access to attractions in the area; many can be closed because of the damage caused by recent hurricanes.

Pensacola Beach

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Pensacola Beach: Casino Beach


Pensacola Beach Pier: 1741' Pensacola Beach at sunset Pensacola Beach at dusk
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May, 2005: Approximately 9 months after Hurricane Ivan, much of Pensacola Beach's residential housing still look like this and worse. It's not that the area is particularly low but huge waves of water and sand washed across most of the island. A good deal of sand eventually covered the island, including roadways, when the waters receded. The commercial areas seem to be well ahead in terms of recovery..


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Dunes Hotel, Pensacola Beach

Many neighborhoods look like this: no vegetation; large sandpiles; gaps between houses from demolitions; sand on the roads, etc.


Pensacola Beach is a well known older tourist beach attraction that has been enticing visitors to its shores for generations. Hard hit by Hurricane Ivan, it is still struggling to recover, including private residences, hotels, motels and condos. However, the rambling Casino Beach area in the center of the island is back in operation including the pier, beach facilities and restaurants. As of this writing (Summer 2006), several attractions are closed including Fort Pickens but things are coming on line everyday. Its still a great place to visit - when the shock of the destruction wears off - and there's still plenty of activities in the area to keep the family happy.

Navarre Beach

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Navarre Beach skyline


Navarre Beach causeway bridge Colorful structures and architectural styles dot Navarre Beach.
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Navarre Beach neighborhood street


Driving west on Via De Luna.


Typical damage from Hurricane Ivan.


Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Santa Rosa Sound, Navarre Beach offers some of the Gulf's best playgrounds. Beach access for those not directly on the ocean is through neighboring Navarre Beach State Park. There is normally good access to and from Navarre Beach by way of the causeway and bridge to the mainland and 399 West along the ocean to Pensacola Beach although the area is subject to damages from hurricane activity. The causeway shores are roped off each year to protect the nesting area of (shorebirds) black skimmers.

Navarre Beach State Park

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Navarre Beach State Park facilities


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Navarre Beach wedding chapel


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Okaloosa Island Beach east


Okaloosa Island Beach west


Skyline of Navarre Beach from park


umbrellas on Navarre Beach


Navarre Beach State Park is deep with the rich, white sands of the best gulf beaches. Shallow shorelines and crystal clear waters make it an outstanding beach for kids. The state park is a great attraction and has good parking, picnic and sanitary facilities. although they were under repair during our visit 18 months later due to damage from Hurricane Ivan. Part of the protected  Gulf Islands National Seashore on Okaloosa Island, beach walkers can hike miles eastward to Fort Walton Beach.


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