Pensacola Beach is one of the most expansive and pristine beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s located on Santa Rosa Island, most of which is included in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. This reserve stretches from Mississippi to Florida and includes 150 miles of undeveloped federally protected sugar white sand beaches and rolling dunes. Pensacola Beach is buffered at each end by white sand beaches in a protected reserve.
With the Gulf of Mexico to the south and Pensacola Bay to the north you can see water on wherever you look almost everywhere on Pensacola Beach. It’s not surprising then that most local activity is focused on getting wet. Tour providers host a wide variety of adventures including dolphin cruises, para sailing and deep sea fishing trips, as well renting kayaks, all manner of boats and wave runners.
Surfing, and it’s associated laid back culture, is one of the key defining characteristics of the local lifestyle. Several surf shops rent equipment, host events, teach lessons and hold camps. Stand up paddle boarding (SUP), the latest craze to hit the beach, is easily learned ‘sound side’ where the water is calm. You can even try your hand at paddle board yoga.
Pensacola Beach, Florida is one of the top year round snorkeling and scuba diving destinations in the US. In 2008, the area was featured in The World’s Best Diving & Resort edition of Sport Diver magazine. You can snorkel right off Pensacola Beach or spend a day exploring the area’s numerous artificial reefs including the world’s largest, the USS Oriskany.
Innerlight Surf & Skate
Maybe this will be the vacation to do something crazy adventurous like learn to surf. If you wanna ride the waves these guys are a great resource and are located in the Pensacola Beach Marina. They offer group and private lessons. Family surf lessons would be a great way to create some lasting memories. They also have surf camps for kids in the summer. Read about Yancy Spencer and Innerlight on Toes In the Sand Blog.
This funky outfit offers the newest and fastest wave runners on the beach. They also host first class para sailing adventures with experienced and fun local guides. Look for the American flag sail. They offer single, tandem or triple rides that go up 1,400 feet.
Paddle Boarding with Aloha Wine & Liquor
You can rent a ‘beach cruiser’ bike and stand up paddle boards in this funky liquor store owned and managed by Hawaiian native and seriously cool surfer dude Kaipo Robello. He provides paddle board lessons in the calm waters of Pensacola or Sabine Bay that will make this fun sport seem easy. Paddle to one of the local sound side beach bars and stop for a snack and a drink. Get in close to the dock pilings and check out the sea life. At the end of your adventure you can pick up your evening cocktail supplies on your way out the door.
Coastal Paddle Company
Stand up paddle boarding is as close as you can get to walking on water and its a great way to see the Gulf from a different perspective. If it’s your first time we suggest you learn on what us locals call the ‘flatwater’ on the ‘soundside’ of the island. If you are more experienced give it a go on the Gulf of Mexico. Early mornings on calm days are the best times to see dolphins. This company even does paddle board tours. You can read all about Coastal Paddle Company on Toes in the Sand blog.
Pensacola Beach sailing lessons and rentals, fishing & dive charters, pontoon & wave runner rentals.
Waterboyz Surf & Skate
This super cool locally grown business has a 10,000 square foot facility that includes a skate park on 9th Avenue in Pensacola. They sell custom made surfboards and great gear. They also rent surf and paddle board gear and teach lessons and surf camps on Pensacola Beach. Read about Waterboyz and its owner on Toes in the Sand Blog.
Visitors to the Gulf Coast will notice many fisherman hanging out all day with a zen like tranquility on the beaches. Surf fishing is a popular Gulf Coast activity. Read about surf fishing for pompano on Toes in the Sand Blog.
Fitness on Board
Yoga boot camp and pilates on a stand up paddle board in the quiet waters of the Sabine.