Pensacola and the Panhandle

Well we haven’t had WiFi for 3 days, so here’s a recap..
We spent three nights in the Pensacola/Fort Walton/Destin area to scope out possible kiting sites.

The first two nights were at Ft Pickens Natl Seashore. Beautiful csmpground, unbelievable white sugar sand beaches and water access to both bay and gulf of mexico. It was 45 degrees and 30 mph wind, so we didn’t kite. The downside is that the csmoground is 6 miles out from town (Pensacola Beach).
Pensacola Beach has several good public access to gulf veaches, they are wide, flat, go on forever and the water is shallow with average waves. Pensacola Beach is touristy with condos, restaurants, shops–but a couple of steps up from Padre Blvd in quality.. There was one rv resort right in town, premium sites were $107 per night. The national seashore was $18 with our senior access pass.

Our first full day there (Christmas Day) we rode the Univ of W Florida trails. They were the best we’ve ridden so far.

Navarre, the next town east, has several beaches for access and is more residential, with some over the top waterfront palaces, but still a lot of cottages and older homes.

Heading east past Navarre, the road goes inland a bit, then approaches Ft Walton Beach and Destin. The whole area is a string of barrier islands, like Padre and Hatteras with bridges connecting them.

Ft Walton Beach and Destin were very disappointing. Tall high rises on the water, extremely restricted parking and access to the beach. Every hotel had a gated walkway entrance to the beach. Public access was every four to six blocks, a 3 foot wide walkway. The beach here is again wide, white sugar sand with a gradual slope to the water. Some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen.

We stopped at Beasley Park, just east of Ft Walton before crossing the bridge to Destin. It’s a public beach, plenty of parking, bathrooms, etc. If you accessed the beach there, I am guessing you would have to walk east or west a ways to get away from crowds.

Destin is the really high rent district…lots of mansions, limited beach access, gorgeous beaches, and upscale restaurants and shops.out third night we camped at Topsail Preserve state park. It has its own beach and the beaches to the east (Sandestin) looked great for kiting and access was OK. We did not see any restrictions about watersports, but who knows.

From Topsail we headed to Tom Brown Park. Fabulous trails, a BMX park, two crazy ass dirt bike parks complete with gap jumps, great log rides, and wild bridges. We will certainly hit this place again on our way back to Padre.

Tomorrow is a ride in Suwannee River State Park.

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