Is Destin An Overrated Beach Town?

A trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast brings with it thoughts of sun, white sand, and turquoise waters. Yet, depending on where you land on your Florida trip, it can also bring thoughts of crowded beaches and waters filled with dolphin boats. While Destin, Florida, offers the white sands and crystal waters, it’s quickly becoming overrun. Here are some of the reasons why we think Destin, though beautiful, is an overrated beach town. Find out where to go beyond the brochures instead.

1. Popularity = Crowds

Henderson Beach State Park

17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 837-7550

Destin is well known as a beautiful location for a Florida vacation, but that popularity translates into crowds. There are soft white sand beaches, but most of them are dotted with towels and umbrellas. In busy seasons, it can be hard to find a spot on the water. Unless your resort has a private beachfront, you’re going to have plenty of people vying for the view and a spot on the sand. If you want a quiet beach retreat, you’ll want to pack up your umbrella and head to the beaches to the east or west of Destin, like Princess Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, and Henderson Beach State Park. Alternately, traveling in a non-peak time could help limit the crowds.

2. Large Number of Tourist Traps

Destin Harbor Boardwalk

102 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 683-3009

an overview of a shopping strip next to the beach

Where there are tourists, there will be tourist traps. You can’t drive down the street in Destin without seeing signs screaming “blowout sale” or “$10 t-shirts” from colorful shops that are shockingly similar to each other. These shops tend to offer lower-quality goods at inflated prices – but we all already know this. You’ll also find henna tattoo artists, souvenir stands, and cruise operators on nearly every corner, and that can detract from the fun and relaxation of simply being at the beach.

3. Increased Risk of Scammers

Crab Island

Crab Island, Destin, FL 32540
(872) 267-2722

bright pink water bar with people in floaties surrounding it with bridge in the background

When there are a large number of tourist traps in an area, the chances of getting scammed are higher, as well. You may not get the full value for your money when you buy something, or you may end up with a less-than-stellar tour if you get conned by a roadside stand. Going to a less popular location can decrease the risk of being scammed because there will be fewer operators jostling for your attention. However, some touristy things worth doing are spending a day at Crab Island and renting a float or a boat, visiting Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park, and The Track Destin for some family fun.

4. Long Wait for Dining


4463 Commons Dr W Unit 10-A, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 460-8881

Reserve A Table

If you do go to Destin, bringing your own food and cooking it in your condo could save you time and money. During peak times, getting a table at a popular restaurant for lunch or dinner can be a challenge. You’ll miss some of your beach time, even that glorious sunset while waiting in line for dinner. A few places to consider instead are Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant, Capriccio Cafe, The Boardroom Pub and Grub, The Local Market, Bitterroot, and The Harbor Tavern.

5. Fewer Shells

Shell Island

Panama City, FL 32403

hand holding up a seashell, shell island, panama city beach

One of the beautiful parts of a beach vacation is the chance to search for seashells. While there are shells in Destin, the area’s location isn’t a prime spot for shelling. You’ll find more shells at Oskaloosa Island, not far from Destin, or at Panama City Beach’s Shell Island, which is about an hour from Destin. If you do want to find shells in Destin, you’ll need to do some snorkeling to look further out from the shore, as few tend to wash on land in this area.

6. Large Number of Boats

A dolphin peeking out of the water, destin, florida

The beautiful waters of Destin are one of its most appealing features. While you can’t expect a beautiful beachfront without some boats, you may find that the number of boats on the shores of Destin are just a few too many for your liking. Because this part of Florida has so many dolphins, dolphin tours are quite common, and these boats clutter up much of the view. This is great if going on a dolphin cruise is on your bucket list, but it’s not so great if you’re hoping for uncluttered views of the water. If you decide you want to try out dolphin cruisin’ visit our blog which states the 4 best dolphin tours in Destin.

Destin has its charms, but those charms are well-known by other tourists. If you’re looking for a stress-free, relaxing Florida beach vacation, it may be an overrated destination. Thankfully, if you look just to the east or the west, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in Destin’s neighboring beachside towns.