Fishing piers that jut out into the dazzling, jewel toned gulf are a big attraction along the Emerald Coast. Many of our Ocean Reef Resorts guests like to visit them not only for fishing but also to enjoy the sensational scenery, watch others reel in “a big one” and enjoy seeing the abundant sea life that abounds here. The sensational views often allow you to watch schools of fish and stingrays sweep through the luminescent clear water below while pelicans sometimes try to dive bomb them above for food of their own. Delightful dolphin can often be seen splashing around and skimming the surface nearby.
There are three great piers near Destin which are located on adjacent Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach towards the west and Panama City Beach to the east. Destin used to have a long pier in present day Crystal Beach which was a popular destination for fishermen from the 1950s until the mid-70s. It was destroyed during a storm back in 1975 and never rebuilt. However the remnants of the old pier posts may still be seen there today and sometimes anglers try their luck there for on shore fishing.
The original Okaloosa Island Pier in Fort Walton Beach was built in 1972 and extended 962 feet into the glorious gulf. After significant storm damage over the years a new fortified pier was reconstructed in 1998 that extends an amazing 1,262 linear feet into the gulf, which is almost one quarter of a mile. There is an octagon that fans out at the end increasing the pier size for the many adventuresome fisherman who frequent there. It is a very popular place to fish since you may catch Pompano, Spanish Mackerel, Whiting, Bluefish, Redfish as well as Jack Cravelle and that’s only the smaller fish! Big fish include catches of King Mackerel, Tuna, Cobia and Mahi Mahi. In one recent year a King Mackerel was caught that weighed over 42 pounds. Tarpon have been hooked there as well weighing over 100 pounds. Although they make a rare catch, even large Sailfish have been brought in by lucky anglers from this pier. There is a Bait Shop on-site that provides rod rentals in case you didn’t think to bring your own gear. They also sell artificial lures and natural bait that have been time tested over the years for best results. Ice, cold beer, sodas, sandwiches, snacks and ice cream are also sold. Convenient restroom facilities are also available. The pier is open 24/7 during most of the year with the exception being from mid November thru mid March when it is open from 5AM until Midnight. Tickets for a full days worth of fishing that extends until Midnight are only $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors 65+, $4.50 for children 6 thru 12, and kids five or under are free.
Many of our Ocean Reef Resorts guests like to go out to the Okaloosa Island Pier just for the fun of being spectators. Tickets for those who are not fishing are only $2 each which is a bargain considering what you will see and experience here. The panoramic views up and down the sugary shore from almost a quarter mile out are stunning. Pods of dolphin are often seen frolicking around in the distance and trying their own luck at catching some fish which they round up in amazing synchronized fashion. You will enjoy the excitement of seeing lots of fishermen pulling in their own catch as they hook a big fish. During the winter months, the pier is a popular rendezvous point at sunset since the sun sinks right down into the gulf in spectacular fashion. The summer months allow you to catch the sight of a magical full moon rising over the silver splattered waters towards the east.
For Ocean Reef Resorts guests who are staying in Miramar Beach, along Scenic 30A or indeed in Panama City Beach itself have two piers to choose from. They are both located on Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach and are identical to one another except that one of them has an extensive park adjoining it with a myriad of restaurants, friendly bars, retail venues and family amusements. This one is called Pier Park or the Russell-Fields Pier which is part of the city. The other is a county owned structure known as the M.B. Miller Pier. Each fortified pier juts out 1,500 linear feet from the beautiful beach into the glistening gulf waters so they even surpass the distance of the Okaloosa Island Pier. The one at Pier Park was built in 2009 followed by construction of the county pier in 2010. They have the claim to fame as being the two longest fishing piers on the entire Gulf of Mexico. The same abundance of varied fish caught at Okaloosa Island are also available here however their historical fishing record is quite a bit shorter since they are new. All tickets are $6 for ages six and up while children under six are free. Tickets are only $3 for Senior Citizens 65+, Active Military Personnel and the Disabled. Spectators are charged $2. TripAdvisor visitors name this pier as one of the Top Ten Attractions in Panama City Beach and give it a 4.5 Star Rating.
Pier Park that is adjacent to the Russell-Fields Pier has also become one of the trendiest new spots in the area to visit. It offers a total of over 1,000,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space and there are over 125 stores to choose from. Besides offering just about anything you might want to purchase at Pier Park, there is also an IMAX mega movie theater. A large mall anchors this pedestrian friendly drive that extends from Highway 98 all the way to the long pier itself that shoots out into the gulf. A wide assortment of retail shops, restaurants, friendly bars and outdoor cafes line each side of this palm lined boulevard. Jimmy Buffet sometimes makes an appearance here at his Margaritaville Restaurant that overlooks the beach next to the pier. Next door is The Back Porch, a popular laid back seafood restaurant that originated years ago in Destin. Both have outdoor decks, frozen tropical drinks and often provide free live musical entertainment. In addition to an abundance of restaurants and shopping, Pier Park is becoming famous for special firework celebrations and festivals throughout the year, especially during the summer months, along with free musical concerts.
Ocean Reef Resorts has fine distinctive vacation rental properties available near these popular fishing piers at each end of the Emerald Coast. Take a look on our user friendly website to choose the one that suits you and your family best. You may view images, descriptions, individual amenities, satellite views, rental rates throughout the year, and current availability. Make a reservation soon and don’t forget to bring your fishing gear!