You may be wondering, are the beaches free in Destin, Florida?
Shell yeah! And what’s even more suntastic is that they are some of the best Florida beaches to visit.
The Emerald Coast is a paradise for beach lovers with gorgeous, clear, emerald waters and shores of sugary white sands.
But a day in paradise doesn’t have to be expensive! We are sharing the 5 best FREE beaches in Destin, Florida.
Guide to the Best Free Beaches in Destin Florida at a Glance:
- Be sure to check out the amazing clear waters of Crystal Sands Beach in the heart of Destin
- Escape the crowds and spend some relaxing at the secluded Princess Beach
- Remember to pay attention to the beach warning flags and get to know which each color means
- When it comes to Destin April to September are the best months for warmer water temperatures, but it’s always the sea-sun to visit Destin
Keep reading to get the full guide on the best Florida beaches in Destin that are free!
1. Norriego Point
It’s the perfect day of sandcastles, sun, and snorkeling at Norriego Point.
The emerald-clear water has you feeling like you’ve escaped far away on a tropical vacation.
You can find it on Gulf Shore Drive or arrive by water taxi!
Why Norriego Point is One of the Best Free Beaches in Destin, Florida
We love Norriego Point because it is one of the best Florida beaches where you can have two different beach days in one!
One side gives you scenic views of Destin Harbor. The other is the stunning teal blues of East Pass’s open space that leads out into the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s a great place for swimming and snorkeling because the water is calm from the Destin Jetties.
Beach Access for Norriego Point:
- Norriego Point is on Gulf Shore Dr and O’Steen Public Beach at Gulf Shore Dr. (Holiday Isle)
2. Miramar Beach
15 minutes outside of Destin is one of the best beaches in Florida where you can see the most beautiful shades of blues.
The gorgeous water is so clear that you can see the sandy bottom.
And alongside is wide-open shores of soft sands with plenty of space to find your own sanctuary of peace.
Why Miramar Beach is One of the Best Free Beaches in Destin, Florida
Miramar Beach is one of the best Florida beaches for everyone because it is ADA-accessible. There are beach wheelchairs available and the washrooms are accessible too!
Restrooms are located at the regional beach access and you can also rent chairs and umbrellas.
If you visit during high season lifeguards are on duty to keep an eye on those in the water giving you a bit of extra comfort and safety.
Beach Access for Miramar Beach:
- (Pompano Joes) 2375 Scenic Gulf Drive (Old 98)
3. James Lee Park Beach
Getting together with family and friends? Then the turquoise waters of James Lee Park is where you want to sink your toes into the sand.
They have over 150 parking spaces, restrooms with changing areas, showers, pavilions, a picnic area, and close to 40 picnic tables.
Why James Lee Park is One of the Best Free Beaches in Destin, Florida
James Lee Park is a top pick as one of the best beaches in Destin, Florida if you are bringing the little ones.
The clear water is shallow enough that children can have fun playing in it.
And when they need a break there is a playground to keep them busy. Or escape from the sun in the shaded pavilions.
Beach Access to James Lee Park:
- 3510 Scenic Hwy 98
4. Crystal Sands Beach
Caribbean-like soft sands and crystal-clear waters have you feeling like the tropics at Crystal Sands Beach.
It’s ideal for a family day at the beach and for anyone who wants access to amenities.
Why Crystal Sands Beach is One of the Best Free Beaches in Destin, Florida
The amenities at Crystal Sands Beach make a day at the beach easy!
Public restrooms and showers are available, a pavilion offers shade and you can find picnic tables as well.
There is limited parking so if you are planning on visiting especially during peak season head out early.
Beach Access to Crystal Sands Beach:
- 2966 Scenic Hwy 98
5. Princess Beach
For those in search of tranquility and peace, Princess Beach is waving your name.
This tucked-away gem is an escape from the crowds of Destin. It’s off Miracle Strip Parkway on Santa Rosa Island and you can park off onto the side of the road.
Why Princess Beach is One of the Best Free Beaches in Destin, Florida
There are no bathrooms and showers or beach bars and restaurants.
Just you and your private beach getaway out on the white sands. It is one of the best beaches in Destin, Florida to be secluded for some rest and relaxation.
Beach Access to Princess Beach:
- Off the Miracle Strip Parkway on Santa Rosa Island
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What is the Least Crowded Public Beach in Destin, Florida?
Florida beaches can become crowded, especially those in Destin during high season.
Princess Beach is one where you can find your zen. It doesn’t attract the crowds because it is off the beaten path and requires you to walk a bit.
But it is worth the effort to walk the clear beach and hear the sounds of the water. Or just chill out on the pristine sands without a care in the world and almost no one around.
What is the Nicest Beach in Destin, Florida?
Henderson State Park stands out as the nicest beach in Destin, Florida.
More than a mile long of protected and unspoiled scenic shoreline offers perfect swimming and snorkeling in the emerald green waters.
However, it does come with a small cost. The fee is only $6 per vehicle for up to 8 people and if you come alone then the price is $4.
The park is full of amenities and awesome for gatherings. There are 6 pavilions with picnic tables and barbecue grills. It also has several restroom facilities, campsites for RVs and tents, and a pet-friendly trail.
Where is the Bluest Water in Destin, Florida?
Norriego Point has some of the bluest, clearest water putting you in a Caribbean state of mind.
It is one of the best beaches in Destin, Florida for snorkeling too so bring your gear.
What is the Best Month to Visit Destin, Florida?
If you don’t mind the crowds, April is the best month to visit Destin, Florida along with May.
The water warms up and stays comfortable from April through September and is perfect for swimming and days at the beach.
If you are looking to skip the crowds then September will still bring you comfort with moderate temperatures. You may even find a bit of a savings.
But the fin-tastic thing about Destin is that it has the best Florida beaches and festivals all year round. There is no bad time to visit!
5 Tips for the Beaches in Destin, Florida
Now that you know what to expect in Destin, Florida, let’s go over a few tips to help you make the most of your time!
1. Go Early to Avoid the Crowds
While everyone is sleeping in on vacation take advantage of this and head to your favorite Destin beach. Especially from March to October!
Enjoy the peace of the morning and walk the beach beating the strong mid-day rays of the sun. You may also snag the best parking spot before the day gets busy.
2. Plan Ahead
Destin sunsets are fantastic but they can make for a long day in the sun.
Take the time before you head out and pack enough snacks and water to get you through the day. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
3. Pay Attention to the Beach Warning Flags
It is important to know the meaning behind the color of the flag on the beach.
Remember it is there for your safety!
- Double Red Flag: water is closed to the public
- Red Flag: High hazard: rough conditions such as strong currents and surf
- Yellow Flag: Medium hazard: light current and/or surf
- Green Flag: Low hazard: calm conditions
- Purple Flag: Marine pests present: jellyfish, stingrays, and/or any other dangerous fish
4. Put Away the Sparks and Flames
Destin and Okaloosa County do not allow beach bonfires of any sort. So, save the s’mores for another beach vacation.
And be sure to keep the fireworks at home and save it for the professionals! They are not permitted on any of the Destin beaches.
Destin beaches let you sip and chill in the sand. So, if you feel like bringing a cold one, make it a can as glass is not allowed on the beach.
Henderson State Park is an exception as you are not permitted to enter with alcohol as with any state park.
My Final Thoughts on the Best Free Beaches in Destin Florida
We love that many of the best beaches in Destin, Florida are free!
It gives you a chance to explore the beautiful coastline and many beaches of Destin as they all offer something a little bit different.
From snorkeling and picnicking to listening to the sounds of the waves with a good book in the sand dunes. There is a perfect spot in the sand for everyone amongst the beaches of Destin!
Until next time, Happy Florida Travels!
About the Author
Sarah Jordan is a solo traveler enthusiast, professional travel writer, and proud mama to her rescue dog Coconut.
With a love for destinations across the globe, she made Epcot her first theme park and still treasures her EPCOT World Showcase passport to this day.
After finally following her inner wanderlust, she discovered the freedom and empowerment that solo travel brings.