Destin vs. Perdido Key

How do these two Gulf Coast Beaches compare?

You are here

Destin and Perdido Key are alike in some ways but very different in others. They are both located on the Gulf of Mexico coast with white sandy beaches beside emerald toned waters. However, many say the brilliance of the white quartz crystalline sand and vibrancy of color in the Gulf is far more pronounced in Destin. This is because Perdido Key is fairly close to the wide expanse of Mobile Bay, which is subject to inland runoff that occurs there and flows into the Gulf nearby. The Destin area also has a much larger geographical area than Perdido Key with a wider array of restaurants, bars, shopping venues, and fun things to do. Here is a closer look at both.

Everything You Need to Know About Perdido Key

If you have never heard of Perdido Key, that's not surprising since it stands for "hidden" in Spanish and was named by early explorers. It sits on a barrier island between the open Gulf and a large bay. The bay was "hidden" since the inlet for the barrier island, which is now part of the Intracoastal Waterway, is miles away from the main part of the bay that now forms most of the state line border between Florida and Alabama. Early settlers had small settlements on the upper part of this bay because they were safe from pirates that did not know it was there! Perdido Key is in Escambia County at the far southwestern tip of the Florida Panhandle on the other side of Pensacola and borders the Alabama state line. Since it is on a barrier island, some parts of it are only a few hundred yards wide between the Gulf and Intracoastal Waterway or bay. Perdido is mostly an Ecotourist destination since many enjoy camping, nature walks, fishing, and birdwatching.

Read more: Florida Panhandle Beaches

Perdido Key Beach

Most of its acreage called Johnson Beach is a part of the National Seashore located on the eastern end of Perdido Key with picnic pavilions, bathroom facilities with showers, and a few seasonal lifeguards. It is open from 8:00 a.m. till sunset, and entry fees at the gate are $25 per vehicle for each day. It is sandwiched between the sound and the open Gulf. Besides the beach, there is a nature trail that meanders past a salty marsh and through a forest comprised of palmettos, scrub oaks, and pines. It is a great place to spot Gray Foxes, Great Blue Herons, Snowy White Egrets, and Pelicans. However, the environment in this area can become hazardous and inhospitable since sometimes alligators have been spotted there. Insects such as gnats and biting flies inhabit the marshy areas during most of the summer, creating a major nuisance from late afternoon till dusk. The sand along the Gulf is deep and loose, making it difficult to walk in. It can also be quite windy due to its outer position on the Gulf.

Perdido Key has about eight restaurants and bars that feature oysters, seafood, Mexican and American fare. The most famous hot spot for drinks and eats is aptly called Florabama, which sits right upon the Florida and Alabama state line. This place has been around for over fifty years and is nationally known. Country songs have been written about it with hits by Jimmy Buffet, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, and a few others. There are five full-service bars throughout this complex that straddles the highway between the Gulf and sound. Live bands play here all the time, attracting big crowds. Tens of thousands also show up every year for their famous "Mullet Toss" competition.

See more: Jason Aldean's Destin Music Video

Perdido Key has one championship golf course redesigned by the Arnold Palmer Design group as a par 71. This golf course was the first in Florida to be certified as an Audubon International Signature Silver Sanctuary. It also features a new club house with a restaurant and bar.

If you're not camping out, most vacation rentals in Perdido Key are in high rise condominiums, and a few are available in single-family homes.

Everything You Need to Know About Destin

Destin is located in Okaloosa County, Florida, six miles across the National Seashore from Fort Walton Beach. Its history goes back over 160 years ago when Captain Lenard Destin discovered it and its cornucopia of fish. It has a blessed location a short distance away from a deep underwater canyon that gives it the closest proximity to deep water fishing on the entire Gulf of Mexico. A thriving fishing industry is located in Destin, which now harbors the largest private charter fishing fleet in all of North America. It is famously known as "The World's Luckiest Fishing Village," and many visitors go on angling adventures to catch their bounty. The charming town center of HarborWalk Village was established on the bustling marina in recent years, offering a wide array of waterfront restaurants, friendly bars with live entertainment, free musical concerts, fun festivals, and fabulous seasonal firework displays. Ocean Reef Resorts guests receive special reduced rates for pontoon boat rentals, dinner cruises, dolphin sightseeing adventures, and water recreation crafts.

Destin Beach

Destin's "territory" expands beautifully for many miles to the east into adjoining Miramar Beach and over to Scenic 30A in South Walton, which meanders along the sugary shoreline. The beaches here have been awarded Blue Wave Beach status, which is the nation's highest environmental rating for excellence, cleanliness, and natural beauty. Thousands of acres of state beach parks, forests, and rare coastal dune lakes are home to abundant wildlife, including great fishing. Picturesque coastal villages popped up in recent years nearby, and there are many beautiful resorts found throughout the Destin area.

Crab at Pompano Joe's

Over 100 restaurants are in Destin featuring Seafood, Barbeque, Cajun, Caribbean, French, Greek, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Seafood, and Southern cuisine.  Here's a list of the best Destin Seafood Restaurants - we know you are going to ask!  Shopping is also a popular pastime in the area. The popular center of Destin Commons features restaurants, bars, a wide array of specialty shops, fine clothiers, fashion boutiques, and an AMC movie theater. Destin visitors usually make a point to go bargain shopping at the Silver Sands Premium Outlets in adjacent Miramar Beach with savings of up to 65% off designer goods. It is one of the largest discount designer centers in the nation with over 100 world-class stores and attracts millions of visitors a year. They flock there to shop for birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas and clothing items for husbands, wives, kids as well as themselves.

Destin is a popular destination among avid golfers due to the gorgeous championship courses that beautifully grace the landscape. Golf courses in the area include Indian Bayou, Regatta Bay, Kelly Plantation, Emerald Bay, and Seascape golf clubs. Ocean Reef Resorts guests receive special complimentary reduced rates at Emerald Bay and Seascape. All in all, there are seventeen golf courses within close proximity, and almost all of them are open for public play.

Where You Need to Vacation

See more: Beaux Soleil

If you have joined many others to choose Destin as your perfect beach vacation spot, check this out. Ocean Reef Resorts features hundreds of gracious distinctive Destin vacation rentals in all shapes and sizes suitable for any sized group or occasion. Enjoy taking a look here on our user-friendly website to pick your favorite and start getting excited as you plan your next family fun time at the beautiful beach. You'll explore individual detailed descriptions, vivid property images, satellite views of each location, seasonal rates, and calendar dates that show current availability. Reserve your choice today!