As the summer heat ramps up along the scenic Emerald Coast, you can always count on finding plenty of ways to keep cool in this outdoor playground. Voted one of America’s “Top 10 Most Beautiful Places,” the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico offer the perfect respite from the sizzling sun on the fine white sands of our world-famous beaches. The best part? You can enjoy them however you like. Whether it is relaxing at your luxury vacation rental in the comfort of air conditioning, sipping a refreshing beverage on your shaded patio, or taking to the high seas for a day of adventure, here it’s easy to stay cool all summer long.

Watersports

Want to do more than just enjoy the scenery? Immerse yourself in it! Literally! Whether you prefer kayaking, pontooning, or jet skiing, the calm and cool waters of the Gulf of Mexico are ideal for all manner of watersports. One of our favorite ways to cool off on a hot summer day is with a jetski rental from Blue Crab Watersports or Crab Island Watersports. There is literally nothing cooler than zipping across the waves at breakneck speed, the wind and spray in your hair as your heart pounds in your chest. Of course there is no limit to the ways to have fun: a thrilling “banana boat” ride, kitesurfing, and windsurfing are also great ways to enjoy the beautiful waters here.

Diving

The 100-fathom curve – the demarcation of the end of the continental shelf and beginning of truly deep water – is close offshore along the Emerald Coast, making Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Okaloosa Island, and the rest of glorious 30A a paradise for SCUBA diving. The deep water close to the shore is a haven for marine life like rays, sailfish, sharks, and marine mammals. Spend your hot summer vacation cooling off beneath the waves as you explore artificial reefs, historic ship wrecks, and more. There are a number of local dive shops, each offering intimate charters (some as small as 6 divers) and certification courses.

Snorkeling

Want to cool off but aren’t up for the “in-depth” details of SCUBA diving? Hop aboard a cool snorkel charter and spend a hot afternoon floating in the refreshing waters of the Gulf, hanging out with friendly dolphins and inquisitive reef fish. Afterwards, try your luck “shelling” in the shallows at some of the best spots for beachcombing in the country, taking a quick dip in the emerald green waters anytime the heat gets too much.

Family Fun

If you are looking for a way to beat the heat indoors, don’t miss the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park with its friendly marine residents, or Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park with its 40 rides, 3 mini-golf courses, go-kart tracks, and much more.