Pensacola Beach is about 10 to 15 minutes away from the city of Pensacola. Journey over one bridge, through Gulf Breeze, and over a second bridge; pay a dollar; and voila, you have arrived. They are barrier islands on the Gulf of Mexico.
Dubbed the "World’s Most Beautiful Beaches," northwest Florida is blessed with white sandy beaches and light-blue to aqua-green water. The surf can vary from calm to light, and rough in times of hurricanes. Nothing more than a body board for the maybe 3- to 4-foot waves on occasion. In the springtime, the algae moves in just as the weather gets warmer. I’m told this is why the area is called the "Emerald Coast." It’s not harmful, just a little bit gross. The first 3 feet of the water is dark with the green stuff.
Jellyfish come and go. In spring and late summer, they are more popular, as they come in to feed. It’s just something we live with. Numbers can vary daily. They are small to medium-sized and sting; it hurts for about 10 to 15 minutes and then leaves a small red welt. Dolphins or porpoises are frequent visitors to the beach area. They can often be seen from the beach.
The main beach area has more than enough space for everyone to lie out and marvel at the wonder of nature. The beach spans about a half-mile and is 100 yards wide at points. Play some Frisbee or football, or set up your own volleyball net.
Ravaged by Hurricane Ivan, much of Pensacola is still recovering, and the beach is no exception. Although most businesses have returned, there is still construction and some vacant buildings. Eat at one of the many beach bars/ eateries. Grab a beer and relax.
No pets, or glass on the main public beach. If you need to bring your dog or have a longneck, go down to the residential section, farther along the main road, and hide your beer when the beach patrol comes zooming by on an ATV.
There is a state park located on the island, Picken’s Gate. It’s an old fort. Due to Ivan, it had been closed, but it’s open now. Get some education in while you're sunbathing. Take a right when you get to the first stop light and drive. This is also a good direction to take if you are looking for a bit more solitude away from the crowds. The only problem could be parking. There is no designated area along the way, but there is some in the State Park Area.