Sandy beach
Yes
Hike-in Required
No
Surfing
No
Snorkeling / SCUBA
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

With 208 total acres and 6,000 feet of beachfront, Henderson Beach State Park is one of the most popular coastal access points in Destin, Florida. The beach is known for its “sugar sand,” a fine, white sand that originates from quartz rock in the Appalachian Mountains, in addition to its popular campground. Behind the beach, a second dune system rises into the sky, covered with sand pine, sand live oak, saw palmettos, and more. The 0.75-mile nature trail that winds through the dunes provides access to this unique and rare ecosystem.

Swimming and fishing are popular activities along the beach. The park is located on the Emerald Coast, and during calm periods the water truly does shimmer with emerald tones. The beach is shallow for long distances, but swimmers should watch the warning flags for inclement conditions. Surf fishermen and women cast into the waves looking for pompano, redfish, catfish, whiting, and the occasional cobia.

The beach park is also a hotspot for native Florida wildlife. Every year from May through October, sea turtles pull themselves up on shore during the night to lay dozens of ping-pong-ball-sized eggs before covering them up once again. Turtle monitors mark the nests with special stakes and colored tape to protect the nests. A local turtle care center at the nearby Gulfarium releases rehabilitated turtles here, giving visitors a unique opportunity to view these beautiful creatures at close range. Though loggerhead sea turtles are the most common, Kemp’s ridley, leatherbacks, and green sea turtles are also seen.

The area is a birding hotspot. Over 100 species have been recorded here, including nesting least terns and black skimmers. During the spring and fall, shorebirds are especially fun to spot, and include the diminutive snowy plovers. Songbirds are attracted to the forest on the dunes, and migrating neotropical warblers are colorful additions to the low canopy.

The park land was previously owned by the Henderson family, who sold the land to the State of Florida in 1983 before it was opened to the public in 1991. Picnic pavilions, restrooms, freshwater showers, and a campground are all available.

Logistics + Planning

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Pros

Great swimming. Unique nature trail. Convenient amenities. Close to the center of Destin.

Cons

Busy in the summer. Limited parking during peak times.

Features

Fishing
Covered picnic areas
Bird watching
Wildlife

Location

Field Guide

Comments

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