In the Aftermath of Hurricane Michael
The Florida Panhandle conjures up favorite boating ports of call that are usually known for gentle waves and sunny days. Last October, our nation was astonished when the Mexico Beach vicinity was devastated by Hurricane Michael’s storm surge and extreme winds.
Fortunately, Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola endured less-potent tropical storm force winds, their marinas were not destroyed, and those lovely destinations are open for business. The sugar sand beaches of Destin and Fort Walton Beach are often rated among the best in the United States and lure sun lovers to this popular area. Other attractions include first-rate golf courses and resorts, nature trails along pristine sand dunes, waterparks, world-class fishing and easy living.
As one of the earliest European settlements in America, Pensacola is steeped in 450 years of history. The city is surrounded by four historic forts that were built in the 1800s. Whether you tour Civil War-era Fort Pickens, visit Historic Pensacola Village or climb 177 steps to reach the top of Pensacola Lighthouse, you’ll experience life in days gone by. The growing arts scene includes cultural gems ranging from the Children’s Museum to National Navy Aviation Museum. Strolling around downtown along Palafox Street reveals a cornucopia of gourmet shops, galleries, boutiques, and good bars and restaurants.
Unfortunately, marinas in areas hit by hurricane force winds sustained various levels of damage depending on the wind direction, storm surge, and construction of their docks and facilities. Port St. Joe and Panama City were hit particularly hard, while Carrabelle and Apalachicola are recovering more quickly. Prudent mariners should call ahead to get a current report on the conditions of the approach channel, docks, amenities and facilities in those areas.
WHERE TO DOCK
Marbella Yacht Club (850-424-5531) With an approach depth of 12 feet, transient slips for yachts up to 70 feet and no bridges to negotiate, this is an ideal marina for large sailboats entering Destin Pass from the Gulf of Mexico.
Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina (850-267-7773) Located in the heart of Sandestin Resort on Choctawhatchee Bay, this full-service 98-slip marina allows access for boaters visiting the 2,400-acre ultimate tranquil resort.
FORT WALTON BEACH
Emerald Coast Boatyard & Marina (850-244-2722) A landmark in the community since 1978, this centrally located boatyard and marina are simply known as The Boat. The historic location is now completely upgrading its facilities.
Fort Walton Yacht Basin (850-244-5725) On the Santa Rosa Sound, next door to the Original Waterfront Crab Shack, is one of the region’s oldest family-operated marinas. With 94 slips and maximum boat length of 50 feet, transients are welcome.
Palafox Pier Yacht Harbor (850-432-9620) In the heart of downtown Pensacola, this facility has floating docks for vessels up to 175 feet. Located at the end of Pensacola Bay’s east channel, this marina’s 15-foot deep basin is a favorite of yacht owners.
Holiday Harbor Marina (850-492-0555) On the north shore of Perdido Key, this marina offers direct access via the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to either Perdido Pass or Pensacola Pass to the Gulf. With slips for yachts up to 82 feet, it is Perdido Key’s largest and only full-service marina.
WHERE TO DINE
Louisiana Lagniappe (850-837-0881) Chefs prepare fresh Gulf seafood with a Creole flair. The attire is casual, yet the entire family can enjoy an upscale waterfront dining experience with great food and excellent service.
Beach Walk at Henderson Park Inn (850-650-7100) This dinner-only restaurant is Destin’s only fine-dining spot located directly on the Gulf Coast. Enjoy outstanding cuisine, personalized service and unparalleled views.
FORT WALTON BEACH
Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer (850-460-8900) The name Brotula’s comes from the Bearded Brotula or sugar fish. Specializing in locally sourced seafood, the chefs produce steamed and boiled shellfish platters that mesh into a fun and rustic southern fish house.
The Shack (850-664-0345) This is the Original Waterfront Crab Shack, located on the sound with sunset views. Serving Florida seafood favorites in a laid-back atmosphere, it is perfect for lunch or dinner and easy on the budget.
Global Grill (850-469-9966) An upscale downtown tapas bar and restaurant that wins awards thanks to Chef Frank Taylor. Global Grill offers unique culinary creations with Mediterranean, European, Asian and American influences.
Joe Patti’s Seafood (850-432-3315) Serving customers since 1931, Joe Patti's has become a Pensacola destination for those who seek quality seafood and friendly service. Located in a
wholesale fish house, it’s nothing fancy but has quite a following.