All About East Pass in Destin

Everything you need to know about Destin's East Pass

You are here

A majority of visitors are well aware of East Pass. It's next to the Destin Harbor marina, which is famous for having the Largest Private Charter Fishing Fleet in all of North America! The "World's Luckiest Fishing Village" was established here starting in the 1850s by an enterprising New Englander named Leonard Destin.  He settled on this location as East Pass was the only opening into the Gulf of Mexico from the bay between Panama City Beach and Pensacola. The cornucopia of fish found here is due in large part to the fact that East Pass at Destin marks the nearest point to deep water fishing on the entire Gulf.

Read more: Secrets of the Destin Jetties Revealed

East Pass Gulf of Mexico
However, many folks are unaware that the Destin East Pass also has a fascinating history. In fact, Destin was actually called "East Pass" for many years.  East Pass was the moniker until 1896 when one founding father, Billy Marler, had to fill out paperwork for the U.S. Postal Service for the community to send and receive mail. He named it "Destin" in honor of his best friend and former employer, Leonard Destin - the original pioneering fisherman.

East Pass Holiday Isle
Destin's East Pass always meandered out into the Gulf at the far eastern edge of Holiday Isle. Fishermen entered this inlet directly from the Gulf then sailed westward to the present-day marina where it connected to the vast expanse of the bay. Holiday Isle by the 1920s was partially forested and had pastures where cows grazed. On September 11, 1926, a significant hurricane formed in the Atlantic. A week later it hit southern Florida and became infamously known as The Great Miami Hurricane. Afterward, it entered the Gulf and started to parallel the coast, starting at Destin and headed to Pensacola. Besides turning Holiday Isle into an elevated deforested sand dune, it completely closed off Destin from the Gulf. Since the entire town relied upon fishing for economic survival something had to be done ASAP! The whole community gathered and decided to create a new opening that went straight out into the Gulf from the bay. They dug a trench with shovels, and within no time, the tidal action created a wide, deep opening allowing them direct north to south access to the Gulf!

Destin Jetties
In 1969 rock jetties were added on each side of East Pass to keep the opening from narrowing with shifting sands. In the 1970s, some single-family home development started on adjoining Holiday Isle beside canals that were initially constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers after World War II. Shoreline Towers were the first high rise condos built there in 1979, and single-family homes burgeoned in growth.

Today Holiday Isle has many luxury condo towers, exclusively gated neighborhoods, and gorgeous homes located on the beautiful beach. In addition to the East Pass jetties and the canals, which have made Holiday Isle one of Destin's most prestigious sought after communities. Many of those at the far western end of Holiday Isle border East Pass, where the big boats go in and out of the Gulf.  The sunsets are spectacular there due to the wide expanse of the open National Seashore on the other side, which will never be developed.

Heading into East Pass

East Pass comes in from the Gulf towards the south, continues past the marina at bustling HarborWalk Village, goes under the Destin Bridge, and enters the expanse of Choctawhatchee Bay at Crab Island. Many of our Ocean Reef Resorts guests join the large boat party anchored there from late spring till early fall. Jet Ski rentals, pontoon boats, and other water sports are available at LDV on the marina through our complimentary Reef Rewards program. You may also get special reduced rates for boating adventures on the Southern Star for Dolphin and Sunset cruises, which traverse East Pass and takes you out into the glorious Gulf.

HarborWalk Village plays host to a number of waterfront restaurants, lively bars, and specialty shops, many of which overlook East Pass. Seasonal festivals abound there with live open-air concerts and fireworks that are shot off over East Pass during the summer months as well as special holidays. At Christmas time, the dazzling Destin Lighted Boat Parade starts out east of the marina at "Old East Pass," which is now a large Holiday Isle cove and heads west. They go past revelers at HarborWalk Village and rendezvous at East Pass near the bridge where a grand fireworks display fills the skies above.

Read more: Christmas Activities in Destin

East Pass Panoramic Photo
The rock jetties of East Pass are near the beach, and both the east and west side attract colorful tropical fish. Snorkeling and fishing have become a very popular pursuit along with swimming in the Gulf, sunbathing on the connected sugary shore, or enjoying a waterfront picnic on the rocks.

Ocean Reef Resorts offers vacation homes and luxurious condo accommodations at Holiday Isle that overlook East Pass or are on the beautiful beaches nearby. Our user-friendly website includes detailed descriptions of each one with multiple images, specific aerial satellite property views, seasonal rental rates, and calendar dates showing which ones are still open for reservations. Enjoy taking a look at all of them as you plan your wonderful vacation getaway down at the beach!