You may think that you would have to travel to a distant Caribbean island to enjoy powdery white sands and clear, blue waters on your next vacation. However, the amazing beach vacation you seek may be located closer to home than you think. Pensacola Beach is a tranquil town with a population of less than 3,000 residents. It sits just south of the larger community of Pensacola on Santa Rosa Island. This area enjoys a temperate climate almost year-round. This makes it just as wonderful for a summer vacation as an off-season getaway with family or friends. With a closer look at what you can expect from a vacation in Pensacola Beach, you may decide that this is the ideal destination for your next beach vacation.
Main Attractions in Pensacola Beach
If you are planning to spend some time in Pensacola Beach, there are some hot attractions that you do not want to miss out on. A visit to the famed beach by the city’s same name is a necessity if you plan to spend even a single day here. This sandy, white beach usually has gentle waves lapping on the shore. Furthermore, you may spot dolphins swimming in the distance. Pelicans and seagulls are also commonly seen here. The beach is well-maintained and clean, and there are chaise lounges available for rent. As a public beach, you can access it free of charge throughout the year.
Gulf Islands National Seashore is also a top attraction in the local area. There is a nominal fee to enter this pristine area, but you can enjoy relatively uncrowded beaches with rolling dunes, sea oats and even an occasional turtle nest. There is minimal infrastructure here, so you can enjoy a truly unspoiled and natural beach experience at the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Other Things to Do in Pensacola Beach
These two popular beaches are by far the primary tourist attractions in the area, but there are many other fabulous things to do in Pensacola Beach that take you off of the sand. If you and your family or friends want to learn more about local history, take time to tour Fort Pickens. This historic military fort is located on the beach, and it offers tranquil views from many angles. You can take a self-guided tour over the course of an hour or two to learn more about the role this fort played in the Civil War. Notably, it also imprisoned Native American Chief Geronimo for a period of time.
Another great idea to consider is to take a tour or excursion. There are many guided options available for snorkeling and scuba diving in the crystal clear water. You can also go sailing or parasailing. Renting jet skis, a paddle board, beach bikes or a kayak can all be exciting ways to spend the day. Deep sea fishing excursions for full or half-day adventures are another option to consider if you love to spend time on the water.
Located close to Fort Pickens and the local beaches, the pier is another popular attraction to visit. This lengthy pier juts out into the Gulf of Mexico from the main road on the island. It gives you expansive views of the shoreline in both directions. You may also enjoy wildlife viewing and fishing from the pier. Accessing the pier is free.
Where to Stay in Pensacola Beach
Holiday Inn Pensacola Beach
While this is a small community, there are a wide range of lovely Pensacola Beach hotels for you to stay in at all price ranges. The Holiday Inn Pensacola Beach is a gulf-front hotel with a lagoon swimming pool, a dining room and spacious guest rooms with balconies. There are a wide range of bedding options and room sizes to choose from to meet various needs.
Margaritaville Beach Hotel
Another impressive beachfront option to consider is the Margaritaville Beach Hotel. This is an immaculate hotel with a beachy, upscale vibe,. It offers special events, a swimming pool, beach activities and more for guests to enjoy throughout the year.
If you are looking for a more affordable hotel option in Pensacola Beach, Paradise Inn is a classic motel that is located on the northern end of the island. While priced on the less expensive end, this motel has a private beach with white sands, ample beach activities, an outdoor pool, and a delicious restaurant and bar on-site.
Portofino Beach Resort
For larger and more luxurious waterfront accommodations in Pensacola Beach, Portofino Beach Resort is an excellent resort to consider. This community has four towering buildings with beautifully decorated two and three bedroom condos. One can enjoy water views from each unit. There are also numerous activities located on the grounds and on the adjacent beach.
How to Get to Pensacola Beach
There are a few travel options available to you. If you are traveling from a long distance, flying into the Pensacola International Airport is a great idea. This airport serves more than 1.6 million passengers each year, and it has terminals for Delta, United, American and Southwest. The airport is located in the larger town of Pensacola, just north of Pensacola Beach.
Another option is to drive into the area. Interstate 10 runs from both the east and west into the larger city of Pensacola. From Pensacola, you can travel south on Interstate 10 until it connects to Highway 98. Highway 98 will take you across the sound to the barrier island and beach.
Pensacola Beach and surrounding communities are popular summer vacation spots, and many hotels are booked well in advance during the peak travel season. If you plan to stay in Pensacola Beach hotels within the next few months, now is a great time to make your travel plans and book a reservation. This will ensure that you stay in the hotel of your choice on your vacation.