Located across Brooks Bridge from Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island is a small but pristine island known for its gorgeous beaches, its laid-back atmosphere, its quaint fishing pier and boardwalk, and its abundance of attractions, restaurants, shopping, and water-based recreation.
A Picturesque Spot near Fort Walton Beach
Okaloosa Island Pier and Boardwalk is one of the places you can’t skip during your time on the island. The boardwalk is nearly a quarter mile long and is ideal for sunrise or sunset strolls. Pay $8.00 and you can walk the boardwalk and fish for grouper and other types of fish. There’s a bait and tackle shop at the entrance of the boardwalk where you can stock up on fishing supplies, drinks, and snacks. Experienced anglers looking to make the most of a tranquil time casting a line and waiting for a bite will want to be sure to head to the pier early in the morning. This is the time of day when fishing enthusiasts gather quietly to enjoy their preferred hobby without having to contend with larger crowds that inevitably make their way here in the afternoon hours. Of course, if you’re the type of traveler that can’t wait to be a part of the mix of visitors and locals alike, the afternoon is the perfect time of day to check out the pier and boardwalk! Mid-day, this area comes to life with shoppers, diners, explorers, and revelers all looking to enjoy every moment to the fullest. It’s a vibrant and exciting place to spend time exploring, people watching, or just enjoying the view too no matter what time you arrive.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is another incredible attraction on Okaloosa Island. At this hands-on aquarium and marine animal center, you and your guests can enjoy up-close encounters with bottle-nosed dolphins, sharks, stingrays, African penguins, loggerhead turtles, alligators, and more. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park first opened to the public here in 1955 and has been captivating minds and imaginations of visitors ever since. While this stop provides much in the way of entertainment, fascination, and fun, it’s also a space that puts focus on marine conservation efforts specific to Florida. This adventure park has made animal rescue and rehabilitation a priority for years with no signs of slowing down. They’ve created the C.A.R.E. program which kicked off in 2015 and has grow substantially ever since. C.A.R.E. stands for Conserve, Act, Rehabilitate, and Educate. All of these are considered core values of the park as the staff pursues continued coastal conservation efforts. The program has proven particularly successful with sea turtle rehabilitation and release. The Gulf Coast is home to green sea turtles, loggerheads, leatherback, and Kemp Ridley sea turtles alike. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park C.A.R.E. center takes in all of these species and beyond. The rehabilitation efforts are a great way for on-site visitors to see the process of rehabilitation, learn more about these amazing species and gain an understanding of why preserving their natural environments is so vital to the marine life’s survival well into the future. Ultimately, the park’s C.A.R.E center works to ensure the future of marine animals and their habitats while playing an active role in conservation efforts. The staff here supports marine life rescue, recovery, and release and works hard to inspire visitors to have a heart for conservation as well. For families looking to incorporate an Okaloosa Island adventure that engaging and equally educationally, this is a must-see destination!
Big Kahuna’s Waterpark on Okaloosa Island was voted one of the Best Waterparks in America by the Travel Channel. Here, you and your guests can enjoy family-friendly attractions like waterslides, wave pools, areas for children, and more.
You can also catch a show at The Swamp, one of the top beach clubs in the Okaloosa Island and Fort Walton Beach area. Live music and comedy performances make up most of the headlining acts at this club located at The Boardwalk.
Dining on Okaloosa Island
While you’re on the island, grab a bite to eat at one of the mouthwatering local restaurants. AJ’s World Famous Seafood and Oyster Bar and Floyd’s Shrimp House are excellent for lunch, while a sunset dinner with a view of the ocean at The Black Pearl will be one of the highlights of your trip. Other honorable mentions for dining and drinks include The Crab Trap, Anglers Beachside Grill, McGuire’s Irish Pub and Brewery, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pranzo Italian Seafood, Old Bay Steamer, and Pandora’s Steakhouse. Wander over to Destin for dessert at Donut Hole Bakery Café. Fort Walton Beach Okaloosa Island will be the reason you come back for more!
However you spend your time on Okaloosa Island, it’s sure to be memorable! Start planning your next getaway and book your vacation rental today!