The Emerald Coast of Florida is famous throughout the country, mostly because of the clear white-as-snow sand and the green-as-Emerald sea that surrounds it.
The Emerald Coast is the coast of the State of Florida of the United States of America. It is on the Gulf of Mexico with Pensacola to its west and Port St. Joe to its east.
Emerald Coast has some of the most beautiful beaches on this side of the country. Everyone knows about the emerald coast beaches and their beautiful oceans. Although many know that this coastal area is famous and a major tourist attraction to the Southern part of the country, there are many fun facts that people tend to not know about when it comes to Emerald Coast Florida.
If you are looking to vacation on Florida beaches, check out these 25 Best Beaches in Florida to visit in the summer.
In this article, we will be looking at 9 facts about Emerald Coast Florida.
1. About the name
The Florida coastline along the Gulf of Mexico is quite famous for its beaches and cities. People also know that it is called the Emerald Coast. But you might wonder why is it called the Emerald Coast? The answer to this is quite obvious if you have seen the sea surrounding the beaches. The sea in this area is a beautiful green that could be compared to an emerald.
But this is not the only fun thing about the name of the coast. Did you know that there have been many nicknames before the coast was named the Emerald Coast Florida? In 1946, it was named the Playground of the Gulf Coast. Local newspapers quickly adopted this name and used it as their name.
Not long after this, in 1952, a journalist called Claude Jenkins called the Florida coastal area the “Miracle Strip”. This name was taken on by local amusement parks quickly. Local businesses also adapted to the name. This name was also officially used by the State and its representatives.
It was not until 1983 that the name the Emerald Coast came into being. In fact, it was a junior high student named Andrew Dier who came up with this name for a school competition for which he received $50.
2. The white sand
The suspiciously white sand of Emerald Coast Florida is what makes this coast so famous. The sand at Fort Walton Beach Florida is one of the whitest sands the world has seen. But why is it so white? Is it man-made for keeping the tourist surge high?
The answer to this is that it is all-natural! The sands at this beach, believe it or not, are made of quartz! Finely grained pieces of pure quartz were naturally bleached by the ocean and brought to the coastal area.
This process was not short. It took millions of years for this beautiful process to give us the smooth beaches we now can walk on.
3. About the white sand
The white beaches of Emerald Coast Florida are fairly famous. We now know the reason why they are white. It is because the sand is pure quartz. But where did this quartz sand come from?
Before the ice age, the Appalachian mountains used to carry a lot of quartz. When the ice age started, the mountains started melting along with the ice caps, and with the snow came the quartz. This quartz was carried into the Apalachicola River.
This river carried sediments along with quartz and sent it into the Gulf of Mexico. While the sediments stayed behind, the bigger particles of the quartz came into the ocean. Then the waves of the ocean scraped the quartz into fine-grain particles and brought them to the shores.
This finely-grained quartz sand is so smooth and shiny that when you walk on it, it feels like you’re walking on a large piece of cotton fluff.
4. Areas included under Emerald Coast Florida
We know that Emerald Coast Florida is the coastal area of Florida of the Gulf of Mexico. But how many areas actually fall under Florida’s emerald coast?
The Emerald Coast Florida runs for at least 100 miles through five counties namely Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay. The beaches that can be called the Emerald Coast Florida include only from Pensacola to Panama City.
Some popular beaches that fall under these areas are Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Navarre Beach, Panama City Beach, Seaside, Gulf Breeze, etc. Since these areas are situated in the cultural southern region of the country, they are also nicknamed “Redneck Riviera”.
Out of these, people of the Gulf of Mexico are most acquainted with the city of Destin. Destin is the most visited city with 4.5 million visits to Emerald Coast Florida each year. As many as 80% of the 4.5 million people stay and relax in Destin and visit Destin Beach.
There is a reason behind this beloved city’s popularity. Destin Beach has the whitest sand you can lay eyes on out of the Emerald Coast beaches in south Florida.
The second most visited beach might be Pensacola Beach. the reason behind this is the clear waters and many activities that surround it. Pensacola Beach is known for holding activities and events on its white sands AND clear waters.
The Polarbeat Plunge is the most celebrated activity on this beach. Every year on New Year’s Eve, people get together and walk into the cold waters of the beach. All year-round, the beach holds celebrations for all kinds of festivals including St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, and Veteran’s Day.
5. Military bases on the Emerald Coast Florida.
Emerald Coast Florida is home to 21 military bases. They played a very important part in world war II. The most important out of these military bases are Naval Station Pensacola, Hurlburt Field, Tyndall Air Force Base, Englin Air Force Base, Coastal Systems Station-Naval Surface Warfare Center, and Corry Station Naval Technical Training Center.
The Naval Air Station at Pensacola Beach is the training site that all naval aviators have to visit before they can start flying. It is also the station where the Navy’s Blue Angels reside and train at.
Eglin Air Force Base is among the biggest bases in the country while the Coastal Systems Station-Naval Surface Warfare Center has a Navy Experimental Diving Unit.
On Fort Walton Beach, there is an Air Force Armament Museum which is free to visit the museum with an aircraft garden. You can come here after a long day at the beach and be in awe of the military trainer planes. There are replicas of fighter planes that little kids can climb into and experience being an aviator!
The reason why military bases had an impact on the state during the second world war is because of the Great Depression. Many families and communities had lost their jobs and had nothing to eat or drink. These communities wrote letters to the government asking them to use their lands as military bases. When the bases were built on these lands, many civilians got jobs there to operate the base which kept them from the verge of starving.
After the world war, the population of Florida grew tenfold. This would not have been possible if the military bases were not built here.
6. Destin: World’s luckiest fishing village
Destin is the most visited city on the Emerald Coast Florida. 80% of tourists that visit the Emerald Coast end up either in Destin or at least visiting it once.
That being said, in addition to it being famous for its snow-white beaches, it is also known as the world’s luckiest fishing village.
The reason behind this is simple and very natural. Destin has direct access to the Gulf of Mexico which makes fishing really easy. You can find a huge variety of fish in these waters as they swim into the Gulf.
Because of its various fishing opportunities, Destin also has the biggest fishing fleet in all of Emerald Coast Florida. This fleet is packed with different types of ships from small boats to big ships with charter captains who are experienced fishermen. You can pick out whichever fishing boat you want and take your friends or family along with you to catch different fish along this fishing pier.
Because of the title of the world’s luckiest fishing village, naturally, there are many seafood restaurants in this area. You can also ask the chefs in the Gulf-to-table restaurants to cook the fish that you have caught and enjoy the deliciousness. This is a perfect place to make a day out of fun fishing activities and seafood tasting with your family.
7. Nomenclature of Destin
Now that we have moved on to the best city in Florida, let us learn about some of its histories.
Destin might be the best city on Emerald Coast Florida. But it was not always a part of the beloved coast of Florida.
Would you believe that once upon a time, this city was actually an island before it separated the peninsula from Choctawhatchee Bay? Yes, before it was named the luckiest fishing village or the most visited city of the state of Florida, Destin used to be a separate island.
It was because of ocean activity that this island got pushed into the continent and is now a part of it.
Do you know how it came to be called Destin? Destin is actually named after a fishing captain! Fitting, isn’t it? Leonard Destin traveled to the city in 1845 from London and brought along with him his culture and traditions. In fact, this culture is still visible in most parts of Destin for example, at Henderson Beach State Park.
To think that a city that was not even a part of the continent grew so big and made a name for itself is bewildering.
8. Country’s most romantic hotel
The most beautiful city in the state is also home to the most romantic hotel in the country! How serene is that? Florida might not be the most romantic city in the country but it sure is the home to the most romantic hotel in the country.
The beautiful Henderson Park Inn next to the beach with the same name was named the most romantic hotel in the country.
Henderson Park Inn has a New England-style ambiance and an adults-only Bed and Breakfast that faces the Gulf of Mexico. The white sand beach plays a great part in the romanticism of the place.
You can come here with your partner and enjoy the many amenities this hotel provides. It is located on a private beach so you can go to the quartz-filled beaches and enjoy a famous Emerald Coast Florida sunset walk right after swimming in the great green sea.
9. Okaloosa Island: The Barrier Island
There is a 3 mile stretch of snow-white sand between Fort Walton Beach and Destin Beach, fl called Okaloosa island. It is otherwise known as Santa Rosa Island. This tiny island is home to many cultural and traditional habits of Emerald Coast Florida.
The Okaloosa island boardwalk consists of great seafood and continental food restaurants along with a great view of the sunsets. There are picnic tables that you can sit at and enjoy great food at.
The Okaloosa Island fishing pier is very well known for being a deep-sea fishing hub. The fish you catch here can be cooked for you in a chef’s special Gulf-to-table restaurant facility.
The ecosystem of this island is very rich. You can enjoy dolphins and sea lions’ show live at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park which also provides snorkelling to enjoy the rich underwater ecosystem of the emerald green waters.
The rich history of Emerald Coast Florida is what makes it such a great tourist spot. Their planned community, rich wildlife, cities, gastronomy, political history, and of course, the eye-dazzling beaches are what make this coast the miracle strip.