okaloosa island coast

Want to discover the best things to do in Okaloosa Island?

Nestled along Florida’s stunning Emerald Coast, Okaloosa Island is a gem waiting to be explored.

Known for its spectacular sugar-white sandy beaches and emerald green waters, this barrier island offers more than just scenic beauty.

Positioned between the bustling towns of Fort Walton Beach and Destin, Okaloosa Island serves as a serene escape with a plethora of activities, making it a perfect destination for families, couples, and adventure seekers alike.

As you plan your visit, prepare to discover an array of unique attractions that cater to all ages.

From the thrill of watersports to the allure of lazy beach days and the excitement of vibrant local events, Okaloosa Island encapsulates the quintessential beach vacation experience.

In this article, we delve into the top things to do in Okaloosa Island, each promising to make your trip unforgettable.

1. Visit the Okaloosa Island Pier

things to do in okaloosa island

One of the quintessential things to do in Okaloosa Island is to visit the iconic Okaloosa Island Pier.

Stretching majestically into the Gulf of Mexico, the pier is not only a hotspot for fishing enthusiasts but also a prime location for visitors to enjoy breathtaking views of the coastline.

Whether you’re angling for a big catch or simply want to stroll and soak in the panoramic vistas, the pier offers a serene and picturesque environment.

Alongside fishing, the pier is a favorite spot for bird watching, where pelicans and seagulls are often seen diving for their own catches of the day.

Best Times for Visits and What to Expect

The best time to visit the Okaloosa Island Pier is during the early morning or late evening.

These times not only provide respite from the midday sun but also offer the best conditions for fishing and photography, with the light perfectly casting over the water.

For those interested in the local marine life, dolphin sightings are frequent during sunrise and sunset, adding a magical touch to the already stunning scenery.

Visitors can expect a small fee to walk the pier or a separate fee if they plan to fish, which includes a day-long fishing pass.

The pier is equipped with benches and covered areas, providing comfort for extended stays.

Whether you’re here for the thrill of catching fish or the peace of watching the waves, the Okaloosa Island Pier promises a memorable experience, making it a top choice for things to do in Okaloosa Island.

2. Explore the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Insight into Animal Encounters and Shows

A visit to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a must when exploring the things to do in Okaloosa Island.

This captivating attraction offers a close-up experience with a variety of marine life, providing educational and entertaining shows throughout the day.

Guests can marvel at dolphin and sea lion shows, where the intelligence and agility of these creatures are showcased in spectacular performances.

For a more hands-on experience, the park also offers interactive encounters with stingrays, turtles, and even penguins, allowing visitors to learn about these animals in an intimate setting.

Tips for Families and Educational Aspects

The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is an excellent destination for families, providing both fun and educational experiences that cater to all ages.

To make the most of your visit, arrive early to schedule encounters and ensure you have time to see all the shows.

The park’s educational presentations are designed to teach visitors about marine conservation and the importance of protecting marine habitats, making it a valuable learning experience for children and adults alike.

For families traveling with young children, the park is stroller-friendly and offers various amenities such as snack bars and shaded areas to ensure a comfortable visit.

Additionally, consider purchasing tickets online in advance to avoid long lines and check for any available family discounts or package deals.

A day at the Gulfarium not only promises fun and adventure but also instills a deeper appreciation for marine life, making it a standout among the things to do in Okaloosa Island.

3. Relax at John Beasley Park

John Beasley Park

Highlight the Park’s Amenities

John Beasley Park offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and well-maintained facilities, making it a prime destination for those looking for relaxing things to do in Okaloosa Island.

This public beach park boasts extensive beach access that allows visitors to easily find their spot on the soft white sands.

Equipped with ample parking, clean restrooms, and outdoor showers, the park ensures a comfortable day out by the sea.

Picnic areas scattered throughout the park are ideal for families and groups wanting to enjoy a meal with a view.

These areas are equipped with tables and grills, making them perfect for a beachside barbecue or a simple picnic lunch.

The park’s open spaces and pavilions provide a shaded retreat from the sun, where visitors can relax and enjoy the cool sea breeze.

Best Activities

John Beasley Park is not only about relaxation but also offers a variety of activities to keep visitors entertained.

Sunbathing and swimming are among the most popular activities here, with the clear, shallow waters making it safe for families with children.

For those looking for more active pursuits, the park has volleyball courts available on a first-come, first-served basis, providing a fun way to stay active while enjoying the beach atmosphere.

Additionally, the park’s shoreline is a favored spot for beachcombing, especially in the early morning when the beach is less crowded.

Visitors can find shells and other ocean treasures washed up on the shore, adding an element of adventure to their visit.

With its pristine beach and range of amenities, John Beasley Park stands out as a must-visit for anyone compiling a list of things to do in Okaloosa Island.

4. Dining and Shopping at The Boardwalk

boardwalk okaloosa island

Focus on Popular Eateries and Local Shops

The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island is a vibrant hub of activity, offering a diverse array of dining options and unique shopping experiences.

This lively area is lined with restaurants that cater to all tastes, from fresh seafood grills to family-friendly pizzerias and ice cream shops.

One must-visit eatery is The Crab Trap, a favorite among locals and tourists alike, known for its fresh, locally-sourced seafood and its picturesque views of the Gulf.

Here, you can indulge in specialties like the Gulf grouper or the steamed snow crab legs, which are as delicious as they are memorable.

For those looking for a more casual dining experience, Rockin Tacos offers a lively atmosphere with creative takes on traditional Mexican cuisine, perfect for enjoying alongside their signature margaritas.

As you stroll along The Boardwalk, you’ll also encounter a variety of shops offering everything from beachwear and accessories to unique local crafts.

These shops are great for picking up souvenirs that capture the essence of Okaloosa Island, such as handcrafted jewelry, custom t-shirts, and beach-themed decor.

Mention Any Special Local Dishes or Souvenirs

Dining at The Boardwalk is not just about satisfying hunger; it’s about experiencing the flavors unique to Okaloosa Island.

Be sure to try the fried Gulf shrimp or the oyster po’ boy, which are local favorites and reflect the area’s rich seafood tradition.

For dessert, a stop at one of the local ice cream shops for a scoop of homemade salted caramel ice cream can provide a sweet end to your meal.

In terms of souvenirs, The Boardwalk’s local shops offer a variety of items that make for perfect gifts or keepsakes.

From hand-blown glass ornaments crafted by local artisans to specialty salts and spices that bring the taste of the Gulf to your kitchen, these souvenirs are a great way to remember your time on the island.

Whether you’re dining, shopping, or simply enjoying the festive atmosphere, a visit to The Boardwalk is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Okaloosa Island.

5. Enjoy Watersports and Boat Tours

okaloosa watersports

List of Available Activities

For adventure seekers exploring things to do in Okaloosa Island, the island’s watersports and boat tours offer thrilling experiences on the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether you’re looking to soar above the waves or speed through them, there’s something for every thrill level.

Parasailing is a popular choice for those who want to get a bird’s-eye view of the island and its surrounding waters.

Floating peacefully above the sea, you can enjoy unparalleled views and a sense of freedom like no other.

Jet skiing is another exhilarating activity available on Okaloosa Island.

It provides a fast-paced adventure for those eager to explore the coast at speed, with rentals available for both beginners and experienced riders.

For a more laid-back experience, consider booking a fishing charter.

These guided tours offer a chance to catch some of the Gulf’s most sought-after fish, such as snapper, grouper, and even sharks, under the guidance of experienced local captains.

Recommended Providers or Tour Companies

When it comes to choosing providers for these activities, there are several reputable companies on Okaloosa Island that are known for their service and safety standards.

Destin Parasailing is renowned for their parasailing adventures, offering a safe and enjoyable experience with stunning views of the Emerald Coast.

For jet skiing, XL Kites offers not only jet ski rentals but also detailed instructions and safety equipment, ensuring a fun and secure experience on the water.

For fishing enthusiasts, the Reel Deal Charters provides deep-sea fishing adventures that are both family-friendly and perfect for seasoned anglers.

Their experienced captains are well-versed in the best fishing spots around the island, enhancing your chances of a great catch.

Each of these providers ensures that participants have memorable experiences, making them highly recommended choices for anyone looking to add some excitement to their list of things to do in Okaloosa Island.

6. Take a Nature Walk at Okaloosa Island Trail

Okaloosa Island Trail

Description of the Trail

For nature enthusiasts, taking a leisurely walk along the Okaloosa Island Trail is one of the most serene things to do in Okaloosa Island.

This well-maintained trail stretches across the island, offering a peaceful retreat into the natural habitats that thrive in this coastal environment.

As you meander along the path, you’re enveloped by lush greenery and have the chance to observe an array of local wildlife and plant species.

The trail is dotted with informative signs that educate visitors about the local flora and fauna.

You might encounter native bird species such as the osprey and snowy egret, which are often seen perching or in flight over the area.

The trail also passes through diverse ecosystems, from sandy dunes to salt marshes, each supporting its unique plant life.

Wildflowers, sea oats, and sabal palms line the path, creating a picturesque setting for walkers and photographers alike.

Best Times of Day for Nature Walks

The best times to embark on a nature walk along the Okaloosa Island Trail are early morning or late afternoon.

These cooler parts of the day are not only more comfortable for walking but also increase the likelihood of wildlife sightings.

Early mornings are particularly magical, as the soft light and quiet atmosphere enhance the natural beauty of the trail and the sounds of nature are most vibrant.

These times are also ideal for bird watching, as many species are more active in feeding and movement during the cooler parts of the day.

Whether you’re a seasoned naturalist or simply looking for a quiet escape, the Okaloosa Island Trail offers a refreshing change of pace and a chance to reconnect with nature, making it a must-do activity on Okaloosa Island.

7. Attend Seasonal Events and Festivals

Okaloosa Island Fireworks show

Description of Annual Events

Okaloosa Island is not only a haven for beach and nature lovers but also a vibrant venue for various seasonal events and festivals that highlight the island’s lively community spirit.

Throughout the year, the island hosts a series of events that cater to all interests and ages, making it a dynamic destination among the things to do in Okaloosa Island.

One of the most anticipated events is the Okaloosa Island Fireworks show, which takes place every Wednesday evening during the summer months.

These spectacular displays light up the night sky above the pier, creating a magical atmosphere along the beach.

Visitors can enjoy the fireworks from the soft sands of the beach or the comfort of one of the many beachfront restaurants or bars.

Music lovers will revel in the Island Music Festival, an annual celebration featuring local and regional artists.

This festival fills the air with diverse sounds ranging from rock and jazz to blues and folk, offering something for every musical taste.

Set against the backdrop of the Gulf, this event not only provides great entertainment but also a chance to experience the local culture.

How These Events Enhance the Visitor Experience

The seasonal events and festivals on Okaloosa Island greatly enhance the visitor experience by adding layers of entertainment and cultural engagement to the natural beauty of the island.

These events provide opportunities for visitors to mingle with locals, discover regional arts and crafts, and enjoy unique performances that they might not encounter elsewhere.

Participating in these events also allows visitors to create lasting memories of their time on the island.

Whether it’s watching a family of fireworks reflecting over the Gulf or swaying to the rhythm of live music under the stars, these experiences enrich the stay and connect visitors more deeply with the vibrant community of Okaloosa Island.

Attending these events truly rounds out the travel experience, making a visit during one of these special times a highly recommended activity on your list of things to do in Okaloosa Island.

Additional Information


Practical Tips

When planning your trip to Okaloosa Island, considering a few practical tips can enhance your experience and ensure a smooth visit.

Travel to Okaloosa Island is facilitated by the nearby Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, which offers a variety of flights from major cities.

Once on the island, getting around is convenient with options like renting a car, using ride-sharing services, or biking along the scenic routes.

Accommodations on Okaloosa Island range from luxurious beachfront resorts to cozy vacation rentals and family-friendly hotels.

Early booking is recommended, especially if you’re visiting during peak seasons, which include the summer months from June to August and the spring break period.

These times offer warm weather and an array of activities, making them the best seasons to visit.

However, for those seeking a quieter vacation, the fall months provide cooler temperatures and fewer crowds while still offering plenty of enjoyment.

Contact Information for Major Attractions

To help you plan your visit and ensure you don’t miss out on any of the top things to do in Okaloosa Island, here are contact details and links for major attractions:

  • Okaloosa Island Pier: For information about fishing licenses and pier amenities.
  • Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park: Check show times, book encounters, and buy tickets at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.
  • John Beasley Park: No pre-booking required.
  • The Boardwalk: For a list of shops and dining options, visit The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island.
  • Watersports Providers: For booking parasailing, jet skiing, or fishing charters.

By following these tips and using the provided links to arrange some of your activities in advance, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy everything Okaloosa Island has to offer.

Whether you’re here for relaxation, adventure, or cultural experiences, Okaloosa Island is a destination that promises memorable moments for every visitor.


Visiting Okaloosa Island offers a delightful blend of natural beauty, thrilling activities, and cultural events that make it a standout destination on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Whether you’re walking along the scenic Okaloosa Island Pier, engaging with marine life at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, or simply soaking in the sun at John Beasley Park, the island caters to all interests and ages.

The vibrant Boardwalk, exciting watersports, and the serene Okaloosa Island Trail further enrich your stay, providing diverse options to create your perfect vacation itinerary.

From seasonal events that bring the community and visitors together in celebration to the tranquil moments enjoyed on early morning nature walks, every aspect of the island contributes to a unique and memorable experience.

The friendly locals, excellent amenities, and the array of activities ensure that whether you seek relaxation or adventure, Okaloosa Island is equipped to offer it all.

Plan your visit to Okaloosa Island today and prepare to immerse yourself in the captivating charm of this coastal paradise.

Whether for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, every moment spent here promises joy and discovery.

Don’t wait—start planning your adventure to Okaloosa Island now and experience firsthand all the incredible things to do in Okaloosa Island. Explore, relax, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

okaloosa island beach

FAQ’s About Okaloosa Island in Florida:

s Okaloosa Island crowded?

Okaloosa Island can experience varying levels of crowd density depending on the time of year.

During peak tourist seasons, particularly in the summer months and during spring break, the island tends to be more crowded.

However, due to its extensive beaches and numerous attractions, there is usually enough space for everyone to enjoy without feeling overly congested.

Can you drink alcohol on Okaloosa Island?

Yes, alcohol consumption is allowed on Okaloosa Island, but there are specific regulations that must be followed.

Alcohol is permitted on the beaches, but glass containers are prohibited to ensure safety.

Always check for any temporary restrictions or changes in local laws before consuming alcohol in public areas.

Is the water clear on Okaloosa Island?

The water around Okaloosa Island is typically clear, making it ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.

The clarity can vary with weather conditions and tides, but generally, the Gulf waters here are known for their beautiful, transparent quality.

Is Okaloosa Island walkable?

Okaloosa Island is considered fairly walkable, especially the areas near the beaches, parks, and attractions like The Boardwalk.

For longer distances, such as traveling from one end of the island to the other, a car or bike may be more practical.

There are also pedestrian-friendly pathways and trails for those who prefer to explore on foot.

What is Okaloosa known for?

Okaloosa Island is known for its stunning white sandy beaches, clear emerald waters, and family-friendly attractions, including the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Okaloosa Island Pier, and the Boardwalk.

It’s a popular destination for beachgoers, nature lovers, and those seeking a relaxing getaway with plenty of recreational activities.

What kind of sharks are by Okaloosa Pier?

The waters near Okaloosa Pier are home to various species of sharks.

Commonly, smaller sharks such as blacktip and spinner sharks can be seen.

While shark sightings are relatively common, they are typically not a danger to swimmers, especially close to the shore.

Are Okaloosa Island and Santa Rosa Island the same?

No, Okaloosa Island and Santa Rosa Island are not the same.

They are part of a larger chain of barrier islands located along Florida’s Emerald Coast but are distinct entities.

Santa Rosa Island is to the west of Okaloosa Island and is also known for its beautiful beaches and attractions.

What’s on Okaloosa Island?

Okaloosa Island features a range of attractions including white sandy beaches, the Okaloosa Island Pier, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, John Beasley Park, and a variety of shops and restaurants at The Boardwalk.

It also offers numerous watersports and outdoor activities like fishing, boating, and hiking.

What is the crime rate in Okaloosa County, Florida?

The crime rate in Okaloosa County varies by area, but it is generally considered lower than the national average.

Specific statistics can be obtained from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office or local crime reports to get current and detailed information.

How big is Okaloosa Island?

Okaloosa Island is approximately 3 miles long.

It is a relatively small barrier island located between the towns of Fort Walton Beach and Destin, along the Gulf of Mexico.

Does Okaloosa Island have public beaches?

Yes, Okaloosa Island has several public beaches that are easily accessible and popular among both locals and tourists.

These include access points like John Beasley Park, James Lee Park, and public spaces along the Boardwalk.

Does Okaloosa Island have waves?

Yes, Okaloosa Island does have waves, but they are generally mild compared to other surfing destinations.

The Gulf of Mexico provides gentle waves that are ideal for swimming and beginner surfers.

The wave conditions can vary, with slightly larger waves occurring during storms or when the wind is strong.

okaloosa island florida

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

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