Destin Crystal Beach

Destin-Crystal Beach

#1 beach rankings: Destin frequently tops beach rankings for a variety of reasons including its crystal clear emerald waters and sugar-white sands, plus fishing, golf, shopping, and family-friendly activities.  See one article from U.S. News and World Report here:
10-day weather forecast DESTIN:
Historical Weather (for planning purposes, open then choose past month):

ACTIVITIES (scroll further down for restaurants)

CRAB ISLAND INFO – check schedule, menus, etc. HERE:

  • Depth is 2 – 5 feet; take floats or life jackets as it is NOT a true island, just a shallow sandbar but you will be in the water all day.  ONLY accessible by boat (see water taxi and pontoon rental options below).
  • To enjoy the pretty green clear water: Try to time your visit starting about TWO HOURS before HIGH TIDE if possible (fresh Gulf water coming in through the pass versus Bay water going out to Gulf which is low tide).  See the East Pass Tide Chart here:
  • Activities includewater volleyball, inflatable slides and trampolines, jet ski and paddleboard rentals, occasional concert on floating stage, and floating food vendors including Waterworld.

Pontoon Boat rentals, Dolphin Excursions, Crab Island – highly recommend these  operations:!/splash
Crab Island water taxi transportation – no need to rent your own boat but it’s pricey! They also rent floats and paddleboats “We will be providing Water Taxi Shuttle Service for our guest’s right to Water World and our own Barge on the island. If you are looking to enjoy the island, and the variety of vendors on the island, we are happy to provide you transportation to the best floating  restaurant on the island. “:

Shopping and Restaurants at the Destin Commons just a half-mile from Chill Pill:
Silver Sands Premium Outlets:
AMC 14-screen movie theater – by Destin Commons just a half-mile from Chill Pill:

Uncle Bucks Restaurant and Bowling (walking distance, in front of Destin Commons) is a little touristy, but has pretty good food, bowling and also pool tables: 

The Track entertainment complex includes go-karts, arcade, etc: 

FuddPuckers: total tourist trap that you will actually love!  Food is average, but they have games, and Alligator Beach with over 100 alligators where you can feed alligators, watch gator shows, see the hatchlings, and walk the gator museum.  For large groups like some of you staying at Chill Pill, you can request a free, guided tour from Daniel Williams at 850-837-4781

Big Kahuna Water Park:

Seaplane Fly the Beach with water take-off and landing – super cool to fly low over the beach!  Just $99 for the intro flight and your group can watch you from the patio at LuLu’s on the Bay. and check out lots of photos on his FB site:

Urban Air Adventure Park/ Trampoline Park:

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park on Okaloosa Island (11 miles west, check for traffic in peak seasons):

Smile-n-Wave dolphin cruise, sunset cruise, snorkel cruise, will tailor to your  needs BUT only take up to 6 guests:

LARGE GROUP outings on the Cattywampus catamaran, go private to get the entire boat (holds 43 passengers) – OR BOOK EARLY – snorkel, wine and cheese sunset cruise, dolphin cruise, whatever you want!  Their location is a little bit of a drive over to Ft. Walton Beach, but I think it’s worth it as it’s located at a great restaurant called The Gulf, which is on the intracoastal. You can kill two birds with one stone.

GOLF CARTS (STREET-LEGAL):  You can drive a street-legal golf cart anywhere along our beach area and on Scenic Hwy 98 (the beach road), and you may CROSS OVER the main Hwy 98 at any red light – but you cannot at any time drive ON the main Hwy 98.  This gives you access to Destin Commons and all the restaurants in the immediate area, plus up and down the beach road.  You may park them anywhere along the beach road as long as it’s not a “no parking” zone, meaning you don’t need an actual parking spot.  Here is one company for basic pricing but I cannot personally recommend them as I haven’t used them:

RESTAURANTS – appx 30 restaurants within walking distance (or by bike) –
a few of our favorites that are not “chain” restaurants, closest ones are listed first
*this is not an all-inclusive list but just some that we have personal experience with, like and recommend

  • Camille’s (half-block west): sidewalk coffee shop/ bistro by morning thru afternoon, and full-service Italian restaurant by night (bistro downstairs, restaurant upstairs)
  • 790 on the Gulf (half-block east in the Inn at Crystal Beach)- great Happy Hour with daily specials, water-front dining:
  • Grafiti’s Funky Blues Shack – varied food menu, great live music most nights, right around the corner:
  • The Craft Bar – good food, high-end pub atmosphere; Tuesday night is $5 happy hour drinks all night.  Nice Sunday brunch:
  • ​Pompano Joe’s Beachside –  straight down beach road to East, Gulf views, seafood with a Caribbean flair:
  • Surf Hut Beachside – straight down beach road to East, Gulf views, fun vibe, solid
  • Royal Palm Grille – straight down beach road to East, Gulf views, and known for higher end dining with steaks and sushi; located INSIDE Surfside condos, has pool bar also.  Make sure to check their FaceBook page as they have seasonal specials like Prime Rib Sundays and have weekly (free) beach bonfires, but the day of the week changes depending on the season.
  • Whale’s Tale Beachside – serves breakfast also; a bit of a dive but great Gulf views and prices are reasonable; take beach road east 3.4 miles from Chill Pill:
  • LuLu’s  on the Bay at Legendary Marina (Jimmy Buffett’s sister’s place) – as much about the entertainment as the food.  Great atmosphere, live music, gift shop, outdoor play area for kids, indoor and outdoor bar, directly on the bay with views:
  • Bric-a-Brac – eclectic and lively atmosphere, sometimes live music, great food! Upstairs becomes a nightclub later at night: 
  • Fat Clemenza’s – our favorite Italian, reasonably priced:
  • McGuire’s Irish Pub – be prepared for long waits; famous throughout the South, casual with fantastic food and the upstairs has some views of Crab Island area:
  • Dewey Destin’s Seafood – 2 locations, try the one overlooking Crab Island:
  • Brotula’s Seafood – wide variety of seafood and styles, good atmosphere:
  • Vintj – chic atmosphere, expensive with good wine list:
  • Moe’s BBQ – just good BBQ!: ​
  • BREAKFAST – Sunset Bay & Cafe, Sandestin on Bay side – open 7am – 2pm, water views, tiki bar, a little pricey for breakfast but food is fantastic as well as the atmosphere:
  • BREAKFAST – Donut Hole on 98 back closer to Harbor.  Nicer than Waffle House, but same sort of menu.  For donuts, I much prefer Krispy Kreme which is just a few blocks closer to our house, but in that same area.
  • BREAKFAST – Maple Street Biscuits is a  new concept, and yes, everything revolves around the biscuits which are very good! In front of SanDestin.
  • BREAKFAST – AND ALL DAY – Aegean Mediterranean, doesn’t sound like a place for breakfast but it’s yummy AND super reasonable for pricing.  Close to outlet mall.
  • FRESH SEAFOOD MARKET – plenty around but my favorite is Shrimper’s Market: