Okaloosa Island is THE Gulf front beach community of Fort Walton Beach, FL. Located between Fort Walton Beach and Destin, Okaloosa Island is famous for their long sugar white sand beaches and emerald green water, and is considered the best overall beach experience in the Destin area. Come take a stroll on Okaloosa Island’s beaches, play in the surf, fish from the Okaloosa Island Pier or stroll on the boardwalk. Okaloosa Island has plenty of family restaurants, shopping and nightly entertainment.
Okaloosa Island is a barrier Island located between Fort Walton Beach and Destin on US Hwy 98. This Gulf front, barrier island is part of Fort Walton Beach and is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, Choctawhatchee Bay, Intercostal Waterway and is connected to Destin and Fort Walton Beach by bridges at each end of the island.
On the west end, you will find a large selection of eating establishments, service businesses, and beach parks. The mid-section of the island is the hub of activity, including:
- Boardwalk with a large parking lot
- Public beach entrance
- Showers and restrooms
- Fishing pier
- Beach shopping
- Water sports
- Water park
- Boat ramp
The west end of the island (toward Destin) consists mostly of long sandy beaches with protected dunes, several beach accesses and gulf side parks. Here you will also find the Coast Guard station, Eglin Officers club with beachside facilities and parking lot (not open to the public), and an unpaved public parking lot at the base of the Destin bridge. Be sure to bring your snorkeling gear, boogies boards, surfboards and windsurfing gear. Water recreation equipment and beach service chairs and umbrella rentals available on the island. Sorry, pets are not allowed on ANY beach throughout the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area.
Destin/Fort Walton Beach/Okaloosa County Airport (*VPS)
Main airport for the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area. Situated on Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso Florida, 15 miles east of Okaloosa Island.
Pensacola Regional Airport (*PNS)
50 miles west of Okaloosa Island, drive time 1 hour.
Panama City – Bay County International Airport (*PFN)
70 miles east of Okaloosa Island, drive time 1.5 hours.
Destin Airport (*DTS)
Private airport located in Destin. 10 miles east of Okaloosa Island.
Over six miles of white sand, family oriented beaches featuring youth activities, nightlife, boardwalk, volleyball, parks, playground, beachside restaurant, surfing, fishing, water recreation, beach services, pavilions, parking lots, beach showers, life guards, boat ramp, visitors tourist center.
- Largest boardwalk in the Destin area with restaurants, nightlife, shops, ATM machine, playground area, volleyball nets, showers, restrooms, lifeguard station, fishing pier, and wheelchair access ramps.
- Okaloosa Island’s 1,261 foot fishing pier is the only fishing pier servicing the Destin area. The pier is lighted for night-time fishing and has rod holders and benches built into it.
- Beach access parks with parking lots, showers and life guard stations are available throughout the Island.
- Home of the Gulfarium, the Sea World of the Gulf Coast for family fun and aquatic entertainment.
- Okaloosa County visitor tourist center is located in the middle of the island.
- Jets ski rentals, parasailing, airplane rides, beach umbrellas and beach services available throughout the Island.
- Miniature golf center with batting cages and arcade located on the bay side of the island.
- Beasley Gulf side county park features: boardwalk, two pavilions, restrooms, refreshment stand, showers, life guard station, large parking lot, and wheel chair access ramp.
- The best body and board surfing waves for the Destin area is at the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island. Best tide: low going high, Best swell direction: E, SE, Best size: waist- to head-high on inside days, double overhead on outside days, Best wind: N, Bottom: sand, Ability level: average to expert, Bring your: short board, long board, weather radio. Best season all, Access: Park in the Pier parking lot.
- The best snorkeling is at the west end of the island among the jetty rocks. Parking is available at the foot of the Destin bridge.
- Fly and deep sea fishing is available across the bridge, in the Destin harbor.
- Two boat ramps on the bay side of the island at Marler Park and Gulf Island National Seashore.
- Marler Park is located on the bay side of the island at the foot of the Fort Walton bridge. Boat ramp, large parking lot, restrooms, pavilions with barbeque grills, and swim area with a life guard station.
- Gulf Island National Seashore is located in the center of the island on the bay side and features a large parking, boat ramp and beach area. If you brought your windsurfing board, this is the place to park and launch.
- Coast Guard station is located on the bay side just before the Destin bridge.
- Eglin Officers Club is located on the Gulf side just before the Destin bridge. Facilities are open to military personnel only.
Casual, seafood, steak and Italian restaurants are located on the island as well as a breakfast house, hotel grills and beachside takeout foods. Night life and dancing facilities are featured along the boardwalk area. A Publix grocery store is located just over the Brooks bridge in Fort Walton Beach.
Okaloosa Island shopping consists mostly of beach shops.However, you are only minutes away from the Santa Rosa Beach Mall and Uptown Station Shopping Mall in Fort Walton Beach, and 20 minutes to the Silver Sands Factory Stores mall east of Destin. Cross the Fort Walton bridge and you have a nice selection of small shops and restaurants throughout the Fort Walton Beach Main Street shopping area. There is an abundance of beach shops located on the island, and ATM machines are available at the Surfside Convenience store at the Boardwalk.