Unpretentious, uncomplicated and breathtakingly beautiful, the Emerald Coast is simply irresistible. Famous for 24 miles (38km) of dazzling sugar white sands and brilliant green waters, the Southern sea town of Destin and Fort Walton Beach Florida present simple pleasures --the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village," spirited seaside celebrations, links of great golf, undeniably fresh seafood and some of the world's finest shelling -- all embraced within an unassuming charm.
The easy pace of Destin revolves like a slow ceiling fan caressing visitors with a refreshing breeze of Southern pleasantries and warm-hearted hospitality accented with a "ya'll come back" character. This laid back slice of Florida's upper Gulf coast is actually closer in distance -- and demeanor -- to dear old Dixie than to its flashy Florida siblings. Not surprisingly, the perceived time warp is reality as Destin and Fort Walton Beach is in the Central time zone while the rest of the state rushes to Eastern Standard deadlines. Likewise, its seasons are pure Deep South -- sensational springs, sultry summer days and cool winter evenings -- for tempting temperatures year-round.
Although the preferred activity in Destin and Fort Walton Beach is "doing nothing," searching for eight-pound queen helmet shells in sunken forests, challenging 1,080 holes of famous golf, fishing from Florida's largest charter boat fleet for the elusive big blue, sailing along the emerald-flecked surf, tubing down meandering moss-draped rivers and sun bronzing on white powdered shores are all simple enticements.
Many miracles of nature kiss Destin and Fort Walton Beach. The 100 Fathom curve draws closer to Destin than to any other spot in Florida -- creating the speediest deep-water access on the Gulf. This phenomenon makes the area one of the top five shelling destinations in the world, the "Billfish Capital of the World" and a sensational seafood harbor offering over four times more types of fresh fish per season than any other Florida destination (except for Key West 14 hours away).
Surprisingly, Destin and Fort Walton Beach accommodations provide priceless beach vacations without the price. More than 17,000 Gulf-edged rooms are available from popular hotels and spacious condominiums to a seashore bed and breakfast inn, beach cottages and five-bedroom bungalows. Seaside savings are year-round with exceptional bargains September through February.
Nearby Pensacola Regional Airport and Okaloosa Regional Airport offer continuous service by 13 major airlines. Ground travel is easy along primary feeders: U.S. 98, Highways 331 and 85, and Interstate 10.
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