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Striker in waiting
Picture of BurtonRW
posted
Planning a week in Florida. Primary water activity will be snorkeling (I dive, but Mrs.BurtonRW does not, so we'll be playing on the surface.)

Neither of us has ever been to the panhandle, but Destin looks nice and advertises as a good snorkeling destination.

There's more that we would do in Tampa, but snorkeling at Ft. DeSoto would certainly be on the list.

Mrs.BurtonRW also likes to walk the beach (secluded, where available) and collect shells.

We're not expecting Galapagos (where we were last year) or even Keys-level snorkeling, and we're not expecting the kind of shelling she enjoys on Sanibel, but I don't want to waste our time splitting the trip, either.

How good is Destin, actually, and what else is there to do up there?

Any and all thoughts/comments are welcome.

Thanks.

-Rob




I predict that there will be many suggestions and statements about the law made here, and some of them will be spectacularly wrong. - jhe888

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Posts: 15847 | Location: Maryland, AA Co. | Registered: March 16, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We've done N FL the last 2 summers.

Destin is very busy.
We stayed in Ft Walton & drove over to Destin for 1 day for a dolphin boat tour. That 1 day made me not want to stay in Destin.
Ft Walton was a much slower pace and much less busy/crowded, IMO.

We did Pensacola this year & it was as good as Ft Walton, with more accommodations around, and slightly more crowded beaches.
Our last day, we drove about halfway toward Navarre & found some nice stretches of beach with minimal crowds.

Seaweed (more like algea-seaweed) was pretty heavy most of the week we were there, and last week when my neighbors were in Navarre. It was mostly concentrated from about knee-deep water to maybe waist-chest deep. Further out & it dispersed pretty well.




The Enemy's gate is down.
 
Posts: 11260 | Location: Spring, TX | Registered: July 11, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Thank you
Very little
Picture of HRK
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https://www.destinvacationboat...t/destin-snorkeling/

Navarre Beach, Henderson Beach State Park, Less Crowded for your walks..

Snorkeling Destin Link

IF you go to Tampa you could take a day and over to the Central FL Ocala area and hit some natural springs, dive there or snorkel in fresh water springs.

Devils Den - Williston, FL
Gennie Springs - High Springs FL
Silver Glen - Ocala

St Pete-Clearwater area beaches would be best in the Tampa area



 
Posts: 19488 | Registered: November 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Chilihead and Barbeque Aficionado
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Destin has beautiful, white sand beaches. But no shelling. It’s only busy in the tourista areas, not everywhere. I’ve been there 6 times and I’m going back later in August.

And I live in SW Florida, a few miles from some great beaches. But Destin keeps calling me back. Navarre beach is excellent as well.

There’s more to do in the Tampa area. But it’s just too big city for me.


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Posts: 10269 | Location: FL | Registered: December 29, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm not sure what you plan on snorkeling around Ft Desoto but I certainly would not bother coming down to Tampa just for that. I'm an avid diver/spearfisherman and a local Capt and would not recommend that.
 
Posts: 1274 | Location: Tampa, FL | Registered: June 26, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Destin hands down. Navarre is nice as well.
 
Posts: 13445 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Striker in waiting
Picture of BurtonRW
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quote:
Originally posted by steelcityfishanddive:
I'm not sure what you plan on snorkeling around Ft Desoto but I certainly would not bother coming down to Tampa just for that. I'm an avid diver/spearfisherman and a local Capt and would not recommend that.


Hmmm... well, we were going to base out of Tampa for some of the recommended freshwater locations (and maybe spend a day with the mouse), but Ft. DeSoto definitely comes up on all of the "go here to snorkel" lists. Digging a little deeper, it seems like we may want to take a charter (or the ferry) to Egmont Key or one of the other islands.

I'm really wondering if a few days in Destin (or now Navarre or elsewhere) is worth the trouble.

I'm surprised about crowds. We're frequently on the Treasure Coast this time of year, and while it's gotten more crowded over the decades, we still find it relatively slow.

-Rob




I predict that there will be many suggestions and statements about the law made here, and some of them will be spectacularly wrong. - jhe888

A=A
 
Posts: 15847 | Location: Maryland, AA Co. | Registered: March 16, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Altitude Minimum
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When are you planning on coming?
I live in Shalimar, a suburb Big Grin of Ft. Walton. I can give you plenty of info about the area and recommend restaurants etc.
There are several other members that live in the are also.
I can respond later in more detail. At work now.
 
Posts: 857 | Location: Shalimar, FL | Registered: January 24, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
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Ft Desoto & Egmont Key would be a no go.
Go to Crystal River or Ginnie Springs or Ichetuckknee Springs.

Water on the Gulf is murky and usually around 10’ or worse in some places.



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.” Robert A. Heinlein

“You may beat me, but you will never win.” sigmonkey-2020

“A single round of buckshot to the torso almost always results in an immediate change of behavior.” Chris Baker
 
Posts: 9801 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Striker in waiting
Picture of BurtonRW
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quote:
Originally posted by BOATTRASH1:
When are you planning on coming?


Driving down (to wherever) on 8/13, driving back on 8/20 or 21.

-Rob




I predict that there will be many suggestions and statements about the law made here, and some of them will be spectacularly wrong. - jhe888

A=A
 
Posts: 15847 | Location: Maryland, AA Co. | Registered: March 16, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you end up at Destin. See if can break away see and dive the Oriskany


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Posts: 5791 | Location: New Orleans...outside the levees, fishing in the Rigolets | Registered: October 11, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Altitude Minimum
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BurtonRW, sorry it took me so long to get back.

I really can't tell you much about Tampa. To me Tampa is just another big crazy friggin city. If you want beaches near there you going to have to go to Clearwater or St. Pete beach.
Anna Maria island (south side of Tampa Bay entrance) is really nice. Nice beaches, maybe some shells. Water is pretty but it always seems to be an "opaque" aqua color to me. Some good restaurants there.
There are some hotels on Anna Maria. Best bet would be a mom-and-pop old Florida hotel. Anna Maria has a height limit so it's not over run with high rises.
I know Anna Maria because that is where we go to the boatyard.

Destin/Ft. Walton Beach/Navarre;
Beautiful white sand beaches. Clear water unless it gets rough. Lately had a bunch of Sargasso and or June grass (slimy weed) but some days it is not an issue and you can go down the beach one way or the other and find clear water.
We really don't have a lot of shells on our beach. snorkeling is nice enough but its just sand bottom. No reefs except offshore which is diving territory. South Walton County (east of Destin) does have 4 or 5 man made snorkeling sites spread out down their beach. they are a few hundred feet offshore and you need a kayak or paddleboard to access them. You can google South Walton snorkeling reefs to see them.

Destin is a pain in the rear for us locals. Too damn crowded in tourist season. Plenty of damn good restaurants. If you like seafood, this is the area to come to.
Thereare plenty of charter boats to go fish if that is your thing. $$$$
Plenty of hotels now.

I'd consider going west to Ft. Walton Beach or even further to Navarre Beach. Ft Walton has plenty of new hotels. Some on the water, some in town. The beach here is just as nice. You could go to the Air Force Armament Museum for a visit if you were so inclined. You could rent a pontoon boat and run around on the water if you were so inclined, but not in the Gulf.
Still plenty of good restaurants in Ft. Walton and Destin is still easily accessible 8 miles to the east.
Navarre is about 15 miles further west. If you want more empty beaches that is the spot for you. There is a National Seashore that runs 11 miles from Navarre to Pensacola Beach. There are numerous parking areas spread out down this area where you can park and then walk a little bit to have plenty of space.

I have to get to work so I need to end this.
Personally, I'd head to the panhandle area. Tourists may start heading home after this week as schools are starting up. Yay!!
If you decide to come around here, I can give you more detailed info about restaurants, dive boats, snorkel boats,etc. If I think of more I'll put another post here tonight or tomorrow. If you like, contact me at the email in my profile and I'll give you my phone number to call.
 
Posts: 857 | Location: Shalimar, FL | Registered: January 24, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I came up here from Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach in the 70s for law school and never left.

Now I'm retired and living here in Paradise. But not for diving, though I got my certification here, years ago. The water is just not clear enough especially compared to the Keys. Or deep enough for the most part.

I never go over to Tampa---NEVER---except just across the Bridge to the Airport to fly out. Nothing there I have an interest in and the traffic-Holy Cow. I stay in Pinellas (that's St Pete up to Clearwater and Tarpon Springs) and we have great fishing, and nice beaches and food-great food.

Of course, I repeat, I am retired, so bars and clubs, that type of thing, hold no attraction for me. Food, restaurants and places to eat? Well, both my wife and I agree on them. So it's Paradise for us, but for someone who wants to dive-the Keys. It's where we go.

Bob
 
Posts: 1169 | Location: TampaBay | Registered: May 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well, another reason to go to the Keys or Destin.

They call this the lightning capital of the world and there's a reason, even though it may not be actually true. A bolt just hit our pool, decapitated our pool cleaner, poor little fella-a Hayward Navigator, and may have destroyed, or damaged the pump and other parts that make the thing run-think lots of money not covered by insurance.

Paradise...sighhhhhhh.

Bob
 
Posts: 1169 | Location: TampaBay | Registered: May 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
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quote:
Originally posted by straightshooter1:
Well, another reason to go to the Keys or Destin.

They call this the lightning capital of the world and there's a reason, even though it may not be actually true. A bolt just hit our pool, decapitated our pool cleaner, poor little fella-a Hayward Navigator, and may have destroyed, or damaged the pump and other parts that make the thing run-think lots of money not covered by insurance.

Paradise...sighhhhhhh.

Bob


My dad was a well driller in Tampa and moved into sales and service of submersible pumps..every time it rained dad used to go outside and smile..he knew he’d be making money in the morning. Wells are a great grounding rod.



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.” Robert A. Heinlein

“You may beat me, but you will never win.” sigmonkey-2020

“A single round of buckshot to the torso almost always results in an immediate change of behavior.” Chris Baker
 
Posts: 9801 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Egmont key for shelling.

We’ve camped at Ft. DeSoto 10 times or so and never once thought to snorkel there. Kayak, fish, bike ride (two of my kids learned to ride bikes there on separate trips), sit on the beach, swim, watch the sunset, yes.
 
Posts: 8216 | Location: SWFL | Registered: October 10, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Go Vols!
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Maybe head over to PCB and take a trip to Shell Island.
 
Posts: 17323 | Location: SE Michigan | Registered: February 10, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Now Serving 7.62
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Been going to Destin and Ft Walton Beach all my life. Been to plenty other beaches in FL and around the SE US but Destin is the prettiest. We have been staying in the Pelican Beach Resort on the beach for a decade and a half now, right on the beach toward the Henderson Beach State Park end where we were married 16 years ago. Destin has gotten much more busy but there is no prettier beach in FL IMO. There can be some shelling done right on the beach after storms. You won’t come up with any prize conch shells but you can find whole silver dollars and plenty others after storms. I’d suggest NOT going during holidays and especially Spring Break. Crab Island is its own beast that I’m not fond f sue to the crowds but some people like hitching their boats close together and getting plastered. We go in early May usually and find the weather and crowds near perfect. Take the opportunity and eat fresh seafood, it’s what Destin does very well. Fresh caught, grilled bronzed Mahi. The Back Porch and many other restaurants will make you not want to eat seafood again unless it’s fresh caught on the coast like they serve all around Destin. Shopping on the boardwalk is pleasant. The Gulfarium has been doing dolphin shows for a long, long time if that’s your thing. Take a trip out to Seaside Community and walk around as well. I’ve never dived or snorkeled so I couldn’t be of help there. I say give it a try.
 
Posts: 5746 | Location: TN | Registered: February 12, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Egmont key is nice day trip. The water is murky but not terrible. I’d stay in Indian Rocks, Indian Shores or Madeira Beach. Close, but not too close to Tampa. Not terribly crowded. Nice beaches.
 
Posts: 355 | Location: Bluegrass State | Registered: February 09, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I lived in Pinellas County which is on the west side of Tampa Bay for 20 years. I owned a 25' Grady White and my sons and I were avid divers and fishermen. You need to run about 20 miles or more offshore to find deep, clear water with visibility that is suitable for diving. The water clarity at Egmont key is a little better due to the strong current that runs through there between the Gulf and Tampa Bay. There are some nice beaches in the area and I did find some nice snorkeling areas, but the water clarity was usually not good. Tampa Bay area is a big overpopulated metropolitan area that we have little interest in visiting any more.

We moved to the Panhandle 22 years ago in part due to the most beautiful beaches in the world and slower lifestyle. There are many great restaurants in the area. Destin was sleepy hollow fishing town when we bought our place in the Panhandle in 1991, but the development there has made it a crowded and busy place. But if you want to take a dive or fishing charter, Destin is the best place to do it. I don't own a boat anymore and do not dive anymore, but there are many great opportunities to do so. There are many dive shops all along the Emerald Coast and you will not find prettier beaches.


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Posts: 4204 | Location: Florida Panhandle | Registered: September 27, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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