Destin | Okaloosa Island | Ft. Walton Beach | Shalimar | Niceville | Mary Esther | Eglin AFB | Crestview is a community located along the Emerald Coast - Gulf of Mexico in the Northwest area of Florida.
This area is known for its white beaches and emerald green waters. Originating as a small fishing village, it is now a popular tourist destination – according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, over 80 percent of the Florida Emerald Coast's 4.5 million visitors each year visit Destin-Ft.Walton Beach. Destin styles itself "The World's Luckiest Fishing Village", and claims to have the largest fishing vessel fleet in the state of Florida. Destin is named after Captain Leonard Destin, a New London, Connecticut fishing master who settled in the area c. 1845 or 1850. The first condominiums were built in the 1970s, although Destin was not incorporated as a municipality until 1984. The city has experienced rapid growth since the 1980s.
The Destin community is located on a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from Choctawhatchee Bay. The peninsula was originally an island; hurricanes and sea level changes gradually connected the island to the mainland. As of the 1940s it technically became an island again with the completion of the Choctawhatchee-west bay canal. Destin has a total area of 8.2 mi². 17.5 mi² of it is land and 0.6 mi² of it (7.95%) is water. Destin is near several other cities in the region. The city of Fort Walton Beach is located to the west at the inlet of Santa Rosa Sound into Choctawhatchee Bay. North of Destin, across the bay is Niceville, with the Mid-Bay Bridge linking the two by road. Panama City (to the east) and Pensacola (to the west) are each about 50 miles away.
Fort Walton Beach is a city in southern Okaloosa County, Florida, United States. As of 2010, the population estimate for Fort Walton Beach was 19,507 recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is a principal city of the Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin Metropolitan Statistical Area. Fort Walton Beach is a year-round fishing and beach resort community. Its busiest time of the year is the summer, with spring break being another busy time when thousands of people flock to the Emerald Coast.
At the western tip of the peninsula is East Pass (also known as Destin Pass), separating it from Santa Rosa Island to the west. East Pass is the only outlet of Choctawhatchee Bay into the Gulf of Mexico, Many sources claim that the pass was dug by hand with an inrush of water widening it within hours. The pass appears in early maps and surveys from Spanish, French, and English surveyors, such as Thomas Jefferys's 1775 map The Coast of West Florida and Louisiana. Frequent dredging is required to keep East Pass navigable.
"Crab Island," a significant sandbar located in East Pass, is a popular anchorage in the area. The entrance to Destin Harbor, a lagoon between the beaches and the main body of the western portion of the peninsula, is located just north of the East Pass jetty. The lagoon is formed by a sand spit named Holiday Isle; many condominiums have been built along the harbor since the 1970s. At the end the Isle is Noriega Point.