Stories from Pensacola Beach

Stories from the Beach

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Pensacola Beach adventures get your adrenaline pumping

From high in the sky to deep underwater, Pensacola Beach has plenty to offer visitors who want to enjoy the elements and the excitement of a barrier island nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and a sprawling bay.

Pick your pleasure and Pensacola Beach has it: parasailing, Jet Skis, Wave Runners, surfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, sport and pier fishing. Option B: You want to take it easy on the beach but the children crave more excitement…there are camps for surfing and stand-up paddleboarding for ages 8 and up.

Skimming the Surface

At Quietwater Beach, you will find three outfitters sure to put you comfortably atop the water or soaring over it. Key Sailing, Bonifay Water Sports and Radical Rides provide the ingredients for memorable experiences on parasails, Jet Skis, Wave Runners and other speedy watercraft. A few can rocket across the water at 70 m.p.h. Safety comes first, however; lessons and flotation devices are mandatory.

Find plenty of room to roam once you are on the water. Santa Rosa Sound leads to historic Fort Pickens, Naval Live Oaks Reservation, Big Sabine Bay and long stretches of secluded beach. Whatever your route, look for fish scooting under the water while pelicans, herons and other sea birds keep watch overhead.

On Boards

The water in Little Sabine Bay is usually calm and flat, making it a great place to try stand-up paddleboarding for the first time. Fitness Onboard at Margaritaville is one of many outfitters that offer rentals and lessons. They take it a step further with Onboard Boot Camp and Onboard Yoga group workouts. Coastal Paddle Company recommends standing up on a board for an unusual way to see and hear nature. It's a very different perspective than from a boat.

Innerlight Surf Co. has been in business for 40-plus years, so its staff knows plenty about surfing. Along with rentals and lessons for paddleboarding and surfing, it offers a popular surf camp in the summer. The minimum age is 8, but the shop reports having campers as old as 78. So learn how to hang 10 if surfing is on your bucket list.

Under Water

Pensacola Beach has two intriguing man-made snorkeling reefs, one in the gulf and one in the bay, both easily accessible from shore. The reefs, at Park East and Park West, attract plenty of eye-catching fish.

The world's largest artificial reef—dubbed "the great carrier reef"—is here. The USS Oriskany, a 911-foot aircraft carrier, is 24 miles from shore, in 200-plus feet of water. It's one of five Pensacola sites on the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail. All offer unique challenges and draw an amazing mix of fish and underwater vegetation. The others are YDT-14, a Navy dive tender in 100 feet of water; the San Pablo, a freighter that was sunk during World War II; Pete Tide II, a supply boat reefed in 1993; and Three Coal Barges, sunk in 1974. They and numerous other diving spots provide great exploring and an opportunity to swim with amazing sea life such as groupers, sea turtles, stingrays, triggerfish and maybe even a tuna.

Reel One In

Pensacola Beach has mile after mile of public shoreline where you can wet a line, either in the gulf or along the bay. Bait shops will tell you what's biting where. Serious sport fishers can choose a fishing charter and go out in the Gulf of Mexico for some legendary fish stories.

The Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier is 1,471 feet long, making it one of the longest piers on the Gulf of Mexico. You don't even have to be an angler to enjoy the pier. Many people take a stroll on it to savor sunrises, sunsets and all the activity. It's a great draw for mackerel, cobia, pompano, flounder, mahi mahi and other fish in the area. It includes a bait shop, a restaurant and bar, not to mention savvy veterans who have been fishing off the pier for years.

With such an amazing natural backdrop, it’s no wonder travelers prefer to take it outside during their Pensacola Beach vacation. Read more about the Footprints in the Sand Eco Trail to see what other amazing natural wonders await.

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