Trying to find the best beaches in the Florida Panhandle can be overwhelming.
How do you know which one is right for you with so many great options?
Luckily, I’ve been visiting some of the best beaches in the Florida Panhandle since I was a kid and have done the research for you.
This list of the best beaches in the Florida Panhandle is based on things like activities offered, scenery, and amenities.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or want to explore everything the area offers, you’ll find a beach on this list that’s perfect for you.
Here are the 14 best beaches in the Panhandle of Florida!
Why Visit These Beaches in the Florida Panhandle?
The Emerald Coast of the Florida Panhandle is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the country, with pristine white sand beaches and emerald green waters.
These best beaches in the Florida Panhandle also are some of the best small beach towns in Florida.
These Emerald Coast beaches also boast a diverse ecosystem perfect for nature lovers with an array of birds, tall white sand dunes, blankets of Spanish moss, and more.
Florida’s Panhandle is also known for its delicious seafood, and it’s rich in history and culture.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly vacation, Florida Panhandle beaches have something to offer everyone.
Best Time to Visit Florida Panhandle Beaches
The best time to visit the Florida Panhandle beaches is from April to September, when the weather is warm and sunny but not too hot, and the water is still relatively calm.
Unlike other areas in Florida, the Panhandle gets chilly in the winter months, making it difficult to enjoy swimming and sunbathing.
Also, hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, so if you’re visiting during that time, check the forecast and be prepared for inclement weather.
14 Best Florida Panhandle Beaches
Without further ado, here are 14 amazing and best beaches in the Florida Panhandle that you need to visit!
Panama City Beach
With over 27 miles of stunning beaches, Panama City Beach, Florida is a mecca for beach lovers.
The sand is soft and white, and the water is beautiful emerald green. Panama City Beach is also home to two state parks: St. Andrews State Park and Camp Helen State Park.
Panama City Beach is great for scuba diving because of all the shipwrecks and artificial reefs.
Panama City Beach is also known as the “Seafood Capital of the South” and is home to the world’s largest concentration of bottlenose dolphins!
🏝 Best beaches in Panama City Beach: Shell Island, Panama City Beach & Pier, St. Andrews State Park Beach, Camp Helen State Park Beach, and Rick Seltzer Beach.
🏠 Where to stay in Panama City Beach: Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach | Prominence on 30A by Panhandle Getaways | Carillon Beach Resort Inn
Destin is one of the best beach towns located on Florida’s Emerald Coast and is home to some of the best beaches in the state.
The sand is white, and the water is beautiful emerald green, making for pristine beaches.
Destin beaches are my favorite beaches in Florida, and they’re just as beautiful as some Caribbean beaches.
Destin is also known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” and it’s known for its excellent fishing, with many charter companies offering deep sea fishing trips.
It’s also a golf lover’s paradise with several championship golf courses in the area.
Some of the best things to do in Destin include fishing, golfing, dolphin watching, taking a day trip to Crab Island, and visiting HarborWalk Village.
🏝 Best beaches in Destin: Miramar Beach, Crab Island, Henderson Beach State Park, James Lee Park, and Crystal Beach
🏠 Where to stay in Destin: Homewood Suites by Hilton Destin | Best Western Sugar Sands Inn & Suites | Hotel Effie Sandestin
Pensacola Beach is part of a beautiful barrier island, Santa Rosa Island.
This Florida Panhandle beach is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay and boasts silky, sugar sand and crystal-clear blue-green water.
The Pensacola Beach Pier is a must-visit, and you can also take a short drive to the Fort Pickens Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Other things to do near Pensacola Beach include visiting the Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, taking a dolphin cruise, visiting the National Aviation Museum, and exploring the historic downtown area.
🏝 Best beaches in Pensacola Beach: Casino Beach, Quietwater Beach, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Navarre Beach, Perdido Key, and Opal Beach
🏠 Where to stay in Pensacola Beach: Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach | SpringHill Suites Pensacola Beach | Margaritaville Beach Hotel
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach is a beautiful beach town located on the Emerald Coast and has some of the best beaches in the Florida Panhandle.
My favorite thing about this Florida Panhandle beach is that it has a small-town feel but is still close to all the shopping and dining that Destin offers.
The beaches here are gorgeous, with white sand and deep teal seas. And there are plenty of things to do in Fort Walton Beach besides spending time at the beach.
The best things to do include visiting the Air Force Armament Museum, Emerald Coast Science Center, Fort Walton Beach Flea Market, and the Downtown Fort Walton Beach Arts & Entertainment District.
🏝 Best beaches in Fort Walton Beach: John Beasley Park, Garniers Beach Park, Fort Walton Beach Landing Park, and Gulf Islands National Seashore
🏠 Where to stay in Fort Walton Beach: The Island Resort at Fort Walton Beach | Best Western Ft. Walton Beachfront | El Matador
I stumbled upon this quaint and charming town last year and immediately fell in love! It reminded me of Laguna Beach, but better!
It’s one of the most charming small towns in the USA and has the most beautiful beaches.
I seriously had to pinch myself when I was there because it looked like something out of a postcard.
Located on 30A between Destin and Panama City Beach, Seaside is known for its pastel-colored cottages and white picket fences.
Seaside is a sleepy beach town with cobblestone streets, and the best part is that it has no chains. You won’t find Starbucks and hotels here.
The best part is that it’s slow-paced with people riding their bikes and couples enjoying a latte at a quaint coffee shop.
Some of the best things to do in Seaside include shopping at the local boutiques, exploring the town’s many art galleries, taking a bike ride or stroll along the beach, visiting the Truman Show House, and snapping a photo at Seaside Post Office.
🏝 Best beaches in Seaside: Van Ness Butler Beach, Seagrove Beach, and Dune Allen Beach
🏠 Where to stay in Seaside: Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse | 30A Inn & Suites
Located in the town of Navarre, Navarre Beach is a beautiful, family-friendly beach with sugar-white sand and crystal-clear emerald waters.
Navarre Beach is a great place to relax and enjoy the Florida sunshine. It’s also a popular place for spotting marine life, swimming, boating, and kayaking.
If you want to take a break from the water, you can explore attractions in Navarre.
Some of the best things to do in Navarre are Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, and Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.
🏝 Best beaches in Navarre Beach: Navarre Main Beach (Pier Beach), Opal Beach, Navarre East Beach, and Soundside Beach
🏠 Where to stay in Navarre Beach: Best Western Navarre Waterfront | SpringHill Suites by Marriott Navarre | Hampton Inn & Suites Navarre
Sandwiched between Pensacola and Orange Beach, Alabama, Perdido Key is a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
“Perdido” translates to “lost,” which is appropriate because this beach is truly a hidden gem.
The best part about this Northwest Florida beach is that it’s not crowded like other beaches in Florida, making it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle.
The most notable thing about Perdido Key is Perdido Key State Park, where white sand dunes are everywhere with wide beaches.
Besides hanging out at the beach, there aren’t many things to do in the area. You’ll have to go to Orange Beach or Pensacola for entertainment.
🏝 Best beaches in Perdido Key: Johnson Beach, Perdido Key State Park, Gulf Islands National Seashore, and Perdido Key Beach Public Access
🏠 Where to stay in Perdido Key: Best Western Premier The Tides | Hotel Indigo Orange Beach | Hampton Inn & Suites Orange Beach/Gulf Front
If you’re looking for a more upscale beach town, Miramar Beach is your place.
This beach town is home to many luxury resorts, shopping centers, and restaurants.
It’s also one of the most popular beaches in the Destin area. (Located in South Walton).
The best part about Miramar Beach is that it has it all! You’ll find beachfront restaurants, scenic beach roads, surf shops, beachside resorts and condos, beachfront homes, shopping opportunities, and breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico.
If you’re looking for things to do, you can go shopping at Silver Sands Premium Outlets, play some golf at one of the many courses, or simply just hang out at the beach.
Trust me — you won’t get enough of Miramar Beach. It’s that beautiful.
🏝 Best beaches in Miramar Beach: Via Miramar Beach, Miramar Beach, Destin Beach, Public Beach Access at Pompano Joe’s, and Miramar Beach Regional Access
🏠 Where to stay in Miramar Beach: Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa | Embassy Suites Hotel Destin Miramar Beach | Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard
Alys Beach (pronounces Alice) is a beautiful, luxury beach town located on Highway 30A in South Walton with a Hamptons vibe to it.
The all-white architecture and lush vegetation give the town a Mediterranean feel, and you won’t feel like you’re in Florida.
Besides its stunning beauty, this hidden gem beach town is also known for its world-class restaurants, elegant coffee shops and wine bars, and the Alys Beach Amphitheatre (where concerts, food trucks, and dancing fountains happen).
The beaches in Alys Beach are reserved for owners and guests only.
Even if you don’t stay in Alys Beach, you can still visit the town and enjoy its stunning architecture and beautiful setting.
Rosemary Beach is a beautifully designed beach town with European Colonial architecture located on Highway 30A in South Walton.
The streets are lined with white stucco buildings and lush vegetation, making it feel like you’re in the Caribbean.
My favorite thing about Rosemary Beach is that it has cobblestone streets and has a romantic feel to it. It’s a stunning location!
Rosemary Beach has a similar exclusive feel to Alys Beach and Seaside but with a few more things to do.
One of the best things to do in Rosemary Beach is to explore Main Street and the town square. The streets are dotted with small boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
For an epic Rosemary Beach experience, enjoy a cocktail at a rooftop bar at sunset. The view is absolutely breathtaking.
Just like Alys Beach, public beach access is restricted to owners and guests only.
But, Rosemary Beach is still worth visiting. You don’t want to pass it up!
Inlet Beach is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a laid-back beach town with a small-town feel.
This beach town is located on Highway 30A, east of Rosemary Beach and west of Panama City Beach.
What I love about Inlet Beach is that the nature here feels untouched. It feels more like a state park than a beach town.
There are several great restaurants, boutiques, and cafes. And, the beaches here are the best beaches in the Florida Panhandle.
Inlet Beach is also home to Camp Helen State Park, a beautiful state park with a lake, nature trails, and dune walkovers.
🏝 To get to the beach, you’ll have to go to Inlet Beach Regional Access – 2A, 2B, and 2C.
🏠 Where to stay near Inlet Beach: Candlewood Suites Panama City Beach Pier | Emerald Isle Beach Resort by Panhandle Getaways | Towneplace Suites by Marriott Panama City Beach Pier Park
Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach State Park is the highlight of South Walton County because it has so many unique things going on.
It’s home to a rare coastal dune lake and is rich in nature with trails through a salt marsh and a thick coastal forest.
Grayton Beach is an eclectic beach town with a bohemian vibe. The streets are lined with funky shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
You can’t leave this quiet beach town without visiting the Shard Shop. It’s a one-of-a-kind shop where you can create your own glass masterpiece.
🏠 Where to stay near Grayton Beach State Park: Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse | 30A Inn & Suites | Carillon Beach Resort Inn
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Gulf Islands National Seashore is a must-visit place if you’re looking for unspoiled beaches and nature.
This national seashore isn’t continuous, but the bits and pieces stretch from Cat Island near Biloxi, Mississippi to Florida (it skips over Alabama) and cover over 52 miles of coastline.
The largest piece of the seashore is within Fort Pickens and the seashore is uncrowded. You’ll feel like you’ll have the beach to yourself.
If you park in a full parking lot, don’t worry. You’ll find plenty of secluded spaces along the beach to hang out.
🏝 Best beaches in Gulf Islands National Seashore: Opal Beach, Langdon Beach, and Johnson Beach
🏠 Where to stay near Gulf Islands National Seashore: Best Western Navarre Waterfront | SpringHill Suites by Marriott Navarre | Hampton Inn & Suites Navarre
Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park is one of my favorite places in Destin.
The beach here is absolutely beautiful, and the water is crystal clear. And, the best part is that it’s quieter than Destin.
The park also has a nature trail and over 60 campsites if you’re looking to stay the night.
🏠 Where to stay near Henderson Beach State Park: Homewood Suites by Hilton Destin | Best Western Sugar Sands Inn & Suites | Hotel Effie Sandestin
Best Beaches in the Florida Panhandle Summary:
- Panama City Beach
- Pensacola Beach
- Fort Walton Beach
- Navarre Beach
- Perdido Key
- Miramar Beach
- Alys Beach
- Rosemary Beach
- Inlet Beach
- Grayton Beach State Park
- Gulf Islands National Seashore
- Henderson Beach State Park
Final Thoughts About These Best Beaches in the Florida Panhandle
The best beaches in the Florida Panhandle offer a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.
With miles of white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, and more.
With plenty of beaches to choose from, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you!
So, pack your swimsuit and sunscreen and head on down to the emerald green coastline of the Sunshine State!