Destin, Florida, USA

Living in Destin, Florida

Iyna Bort Caruso

Destin, Florida, calls itself the “world’s luckiest fishing village” for its deep waters and bountiful catches. The largest fishing fleet in the state is based here. It could just as easily tout its sugar-sand shoreline that arguably rivals some of the best beaches in the Caribbean.

Destin is set on a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from Choctawhatchee Bay along the Emerald Coast. So named for its jewel-colored waters, the Emerald Coast is a stretch of shoreline along the Gulf in northwest Florida that extends from Pensacola to Panama City.

The city has a decidedly Southern sensibility and a family-friendly vibe. Year-rounders are especially drawn to the highly rated schools. Its modest population swells with visitors and vacation homeowners whose lifestyles are based around the waterside surroundings: al fresco dining, open-air shopping, recreational boating, championship golf courses and nature’s own entertainment, courtesy of its abundant wildlife. Dolphin and eagle sightings are not uncommon.  

The Destin Boardwalk is a hub of activity and the site of two long-running and popular events, the Destin Seafood Festival and Destin Fishing Rodeo. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport is the regional gateway to the Gulf Coast while the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, which opened in 2010, is about an hour away.

Despite its limited size--only about 8 square miles--Destin real estate offers a surprisingly large range of options including Gulf-front mansions, condominiums, cottages, boating homes and town homes. Exclusive enclaves in neighboring communities include Destiny by the Sea, Dunes of Destin and Kelly Plantation. Some are gated with access to private beaches. Spanish, Mexican and Mediterranean architectural influences are strong among the villas and compounds.

Nearby Fort Walton Beach is another Emerald Coast destination popular among families for its seaside downtown area of museums and attractions. Between Fort Walton Beach and Destin is Okaloosa Island, a barrier isle with beaches so pristine and quiet, visitors feel like they’ve stumbled upon a secret.