Charter Fishing Destin Blog

2017 Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo


DESTIN FISHING RODEO 1954 Image by Destin Fishing & History Museum via New Orleans Magazine.

Destin’s Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo

Destin’s Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo has roots dating back to 1948 when a sense of community embraced the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village to promote compassion and well-being for fellow fisherman and families. What started as a three day special event to extend the fishing season a little further has now blossomed into a month long fishing tournament filled with festivities that cater to the whole family. Visitors from all over the world now travel to Destin every year during the month of October for one of the biggest annual deep sea fishing tournaments. From championship fishing teams to toddlers and teens, there is something for everyone during Destin’s Annual Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo.

Blessings from the past continue to overwhelm the coast as an abundant harvest of the most desirable fish in the Gulf of Mexico are brought to shore by anglers aboard Destin’s finest charter boats. To describe this annual event as anything short of glorious is an understatement.  The amazing encounters of unbelievable and record-breaking saltwater fish caught, during the month of October, entices locals, visitors, and retired fisherman to grace the dock for a glimpse of the daily catch and weigh-in boards.

Harvesting Harbor Blessings


Roy H. Martin displays the reason he holds 19 world fishing records at the Destin Rodeo in 1956. Image by Karl E. Holland via State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.


A boy and his large catch of fish at the Destin Rodeo 1955. Image by Francis P. Johnson via State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory..


Captain Wheeler and crew with 455 Pound Marlin. 1972. Image by Karin Linick via State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Destin was founded as a fishing village in 1835 when Leonard Destin, a fisherman from New London, Connecticut, discovered one of the best kept secret saltwater hot spots that the world would ever come to know.

As quality marine saltwater species rely on deep waters to live, reproduce, and grow to colossal size,Destin’s prominent access to deep waters distinguishes its position as the most desirable sports, recreational, and commercial fishing location in the Gulf of Mexico.

With a mere 10 miles from the shore line, anglers aboard Destin charter boats are already hitting some great spots, which means paying for less travel time and larger quantities of quality saltwater fish than anywhere else on the Gulf CoastWith over 175 years of family secrets passed through the bloodlines of the founding fishermen of Destin, experienced captains know exactly where to reel-in the finest fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The ability to deliver surpasses the expectations of customers, and brings them back for more each year after their first taste of glory.

Jake Brashears, official Rodeo Photographer

The 69th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo


Weigh Master Bruce Cheves with a day’s weigh-in during the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo

Destin is already recognized as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and the “Billfish Capital of the Gulf.” The annual rodeo is a celebration of the blessings given to these legendary fishermen with participation from over 30,000 saltwater anglers from all over, who come to compete for bragging rights, prizes, and cash. With Destin’s annual rodeo growing in reputation as the “Ultimate Saltwater Tournament,” the prizes and awards grow even more elaborate each year. Booking a charter with a registered captain automatically qualifies all anglers to enter the tournament with no additional charge, and you are still in the running for award winning placement at the weigh-ins.

There are 29 divisions for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, consisting of over 33 species of fish, in seniors, ladies, juniors, and teen subdivisions, with rewards for the top daily, weekly, overall, andjackpot catches. The sense of community from 1948 is still maintained today, as registered charter boat captains volunteer their time and sponsor several of the rewards for top winners, totaling over $100,000.00 in cash and prizes. When you charter a vessel registered with Destin’s Fishing Rodeo, your chances are great for a prize catch.

Shark Saturdays

Shark Saturdays Destin Fishing RodeoShark Saturdays are one of the most exciting events in the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo. Anglers are allowed one entry for the day, and since the entry with the largest shark wins, the shark hunters are aiming for the big ones. Over the years, we’ve seen some massive sharks come in from the gulf.

This October, the Saturdays will give those hanging out for the weigh-ins a thrill to remember. The slogan for the 2017 Shark Saturdays tournament is Hang ‘Em High. The bigger the shark, the higher it hangs.

If observing the sharks coming in is not enough excitement to get your blood pumping,BOOK YOUR SHARK HUNT TODAY. Shark trips in October are very popular, and must be booked well in advance. Remember, cash prizes are given to the angler who brings in the largest shark.

For the best chances of catching a winning bull shark or mako, we recommend an overnight charter leaving Friday nights in October to set up with plenty of time to catch some other entry fish while we’re out, and to get back to the weigh-ins at AJ’s on Saturday.

Fish the Days and Rock the Nights

What’s better than a Saturday of deep sea fishing in Destin, Florida? Well, nothing really. But to make an even better experience, HarborWalk Village will be hosting a party every Saturday night in October, beginning October 1st from 7:00 PM through 9:30 PM. Fireworks will light up the Destin Harbor at 9:00 PM. The Fish the Days and Rock the Nights event is free to the public, so bring the family down, watch the rodeo weigh-ins behind AJ’s from 10AM-7PM, and then head to the village for live entertainment, music, and the freshest local seafood that you can find! The Fish the Days and Rock the Nights event is shared with a variety of fall activities along the Destin Harbor, so visitors of all ages are welcome to join in on the fun!

A Fishing Tournament for the Whole Family

Destin Fishing Rodeo for kids

Children with their winning catches at the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Image courtesy of Destin Fishing Rodeo

Deep sea fishing tournaments are huge for avid fishermen of all backgrounds. What makes the Destin Fishing Rodeo stand apart from other tournaments is the emphasis placed on children during the event. The biggest  investment that the fishing communities across America have is in our children. The Destin Fishing Rodeo is a time to involve children and families in the traditions of coastal living.

Every child that enters a fish weighing at least 1 pound into the tournament will win a rod and reel, and they’ll receive an official rodeo certificate. This is not one of those everyone gets a trophy for trying organizations. Instead, the deep sea fishing community of Destin, Florida aims to plant a seed of inspiration into the hearts of young children who have the opportunity to experience a true love for fishing.

A wise man once said, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” That’s exactly what we intend to do with these children participating in the fishing rodeo. Teaching a child to love the sport of fishing ensures that the respect and passion for our saltwater resources will continue to thrive long after today’s generation of fishermen retire. After all, we’ll need some of these youngsters to go out and catch us some snappers some day.

So, bring your children down to fish in the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Make it an annual tradition, and consider an investment into both your child and the future of our fishing community. There are several events geared towards children of all ages, and lots of stories to hear from the famous Bruce Cheves who delights in sharing his stories of victorious catches with little ones.

The Reel Bottom Line

  • The 69th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo lasts from October 1st through October
  • Weigh-ins are held behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar where anglers will meet Bruce Cheves, the official Rodeo Weigh-master, and the 2017 Miss Destin, Rachel McMullen.
  • Several events and festivities run throughout the month of October to sustain the excitement and celebration of the harvest, including Destin’s Seafood Festival, the Kid’s Fall Festival and Wagon Parade, the Ringing of the Bell Ceremony, the Rootin Tootin Rodeo Round-Up, and the Halloween on the Harbor Party.
  • Shark Saturdays will run every Saturday in October, including the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th. Anglers with the biggest catch will win the cash prize.
  • Daily, weekly, and overall winners are awarded over $100,000.00 in cash and prizes.
  • Senior, Ladies, Teen, and Junior divisions ensure fun for the whole family.
  • Once you fish during a Fishing Rodeo in the Destin waters, you’ll be hooked on the tradition for years to come.

Destin Fishing Rodeo: Florida’s Emerald Coast

The sooner that you book your charter for Destin’s Annual Fishing Rodeo, the better. This is a prime-time harvest season and some of the best fishing that you will encounter during your lifetime. Making a reservation will guarantee your place as you embark on the legendary adventures of deep sea fishing in Destin.Tournament entry fees are covered with your charter. For the best chances to gain a top spot on the weigh-in boards, it is recommended to charter a boat with a seasoned captain and a reputation for hooking the Big Ones.

So, what are you waiting for? The 69th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo is just around the corner. BOOK NOW 


The 69th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo Event Schedule

2017 Destin Fishing Rodeo

Saturday, October 1st – 31st 2017

10:00 am – 7:00 pm

The 68th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo will officially begin on October 01, 2017 and continue through October 31, 2017.

Weigh-ins are held on the dock behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar each day where you will find Bruce Cheves, the Rodeo Weigh-master, and meet the 2017 Miss Destin, Rachel McMullen.

The weigh-in event is free to the public, and so are the stories told by the legendary Weigh-master. Anglers will bring their catch of the day to be weighed for placement on the board and have their photos taken with Miss Destin.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

10th Annual Kid’s Wagon Boat Parade

Elementary aged children are encouraged to participate in the Kid’s Wagon Boat Parade at 2:00 PM. Each year, children design and parents help construct their own wagons to resemble nautical vessels for the parade on the harbor. With Fall Break coming up, the kids will have plenty of time to work on their wagons and present their fun ideas for the parade.

2017 Destin Seafood Festival Poster

39th Annual Seafood Festival Poster by Theresia McInnis.

October 6th – 8th

FRI.   4:00 pm – 10:00 pm / SAT. 10:00 am – 10:00 pm / SUN. 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

The 39th Annual Destin Seafood Festival along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk is free to the public, and is a

great event to attend during Destin’s Fishing Rodeo. Live entertainment is provided by local bands on four stages along the harbor including the Destin City Stage, the Heron Stage, AJ’s Game Stage, and HarborWalk’s Village Main Stage. The East Pass Marina and HarborWalk Village are designated Kid Fun Zones with several activities to keep children entertained for hours. Kid Fun Zones consist of a petting zoo, pony rides, games, Hamster balls, a rock climbing wall, and a zip line over the festival crowds.

The Annual Mingo Toss is held at the Royal Melvin Heritage Park on Sunday from 11:30 am through 1:00 pm. With a name like Destin’s Seafood Festival, this event is essentially the biggest seafood tasting venue to ever hit the Gulf Coast. With access to over 15 food vendors and 13 restaurants along the harbor, the Destin Seafood Festival will fill your hunger for coastal cuisine. Destin’s unique style is captured by local skilled artists who display their inspirational creations along the harbor during the festival. There is truly something for everyone at the 39th Annual Destin Seafood Festival, and as the 69th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo launches on October 01, visitors are offered a front row seat for daily catches approaching the shore.

5 (1)Shark Saturdays/ Fish the Days and Rock the Nights

October 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th

Each Saturday in the month of October will be deemed Shark Saturday. The 2017 slogan for Shark Saturday is Hang ‘Em High. The bigger the shark, the higher they’ll hang. Cash prizes are given to the angler who reels-in the largest shark. BOOK YOUR SHARK CHARTER NOW.

Following the weigh-ins behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, HarborWalk Village will host a dock party every Saturday night in October. Live music, seafood, and fun for the whole family will last from 7:00-9:30 PM.  Fireworks will light up the harbor at 9:00 PM for this weekly celebration during Destin’s Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo.

Destin Rodeo Run

Destiin Rodeo Run. Image Source:

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Destin 5K Rodeo Run: Participants will gather at the Clement E. Taylor Park on Calhoun Drive to participate in the annual 3.1 mile flat course. There is a $25 entry fee, and the proceeds will support the Ronald McDonald’s House and the Miss Destin Scholarship Fund. Click here to register. Early packet pick-up will be on Thursday, October 5th – 4:00 pm6:00 pm and Friday, October 6th – 11:00 am1:00 pm at the Destin Community Center located at 103 Stahlman Avenue in Destin.  An award ceremony will follow the 5K run at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar with free beer and refreshments for participants. Children, wheelchairs, and strollers are welcome in this event.

Aj's Kids Fall Fest

Monday, October 09, 2017

Kid’s Fall Fest

From 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM. AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar will host the Kid’s Fall Festival with live music, arts and crafts, face painting, games, and pumpkin decorating. Join the fun with no cost to participants, and enjoy a front row seat at the weigh-ins during the 69th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

1 (3)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bruce Cheves Day, as proclaimed by the City of Destin. Join the gathering of men, women, and children to hear the epic tales of the official Rodeo Weigh-master, Bruce, during his heyday at sea. Bring him a fish, and he’ll make you famous!

Ringing of the Bell Ceremony: At 5:00 pm Bruce will honor the legendary lives of Destin’s loved ones as he leads the annual Ringing of the Bell ceremony at the weigh station behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

20121016-1704221 (1)

Rootin Tootin Rodeo Round Okaloosa Island Image by: The Destin Log: Rodeo Rap

Saturday, October 21, 2017

8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Rootin Tootin Rodeo Round-Up: Hurry up and register your little anglers, (AGES 10 and UNDER), at Eventbrite for one of the rodeo’s biggest events for future fishing leaders. There is only space for 150 youth anglers, so get their names on the list today. Once registered, they can look forward to a fantastic morning of fishing, prizes, and lunch at the Okaloosa Island Pier. The entry fee is $10.00 for each child. Arrive between 8:00 and 8:45 am on the morning of the 21st for registration roll call. Fishing will begin at 9:00 am and last until 11:00 am. These lucky young anglers will receive a tee-shirt, bait, a rod and reel to keep, and lunch. Parents and pier fees are included in the $10 entry fee.


18Monday, October 31, 2017

Halloween on the Harbor: Locals declare Halloween on the Harbor as the largest Halloween Party in Destin, Florida. Everyone is invited to join the 68th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo’s Fleet, judges, and Miss Destin in wrapping up another abundant harvest of great fishing. Wear your costume, and witness the closing of the rodeo with a huge party complete with a fireworks finale sponsored by AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.


destin-fishing-rodeoFriday, November 03, 2017

69th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo Awards: AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar will host the gathering to present the award winning Captains, Anglers, and Mates who will hold the overall records for the upcoming year! These fishermen are truly the luckiest of “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village!”



Written By: Jessica Baggett

September 29, 2015



Categories: All Posts

Play the Big Game this Fall with Finest Kind Charters

Big Game Fishing Flags

Image Source: Saltwater Sportsman

The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most popular sports fishing grounds for Big Game, Blue Water Species. During the fall season, changing temperatures push bait fish into regions accessible for Destin charter boats to have the best opportunity for reaching the same fish that have inspired fishermen, writers, historians, scientists, and artists for centuries. Novice and expert fishermen are offered the chance to experience the deep sea fishing trip of a lifetime while catching big game like Wahoo, Bull Dolphins, Yellowfin Tuna, Sailfish, White Marlin, and Blue Marlin, as they are abundant in the northeastern area of the Gulf of Mexico during autumn months.Big Game Fish Out of Destin

Big game fishing should not be confused with half day and 3/4 day bottom fishing trips. You want to have plenty of time to engage with big game, once you gain ground with them. This means longer trips, expert charter captains, and flexibility for the conditions of the sea. To grasp the chance of catching one of these marvelous creatures, you must understand their habits and habitats. Customized charters that position anglers within the area favored by big game species usually run between 36 to 72 hours, depending on the season of migration, the temperature of the water, the phases of the moon, and the preferences of the species.

Learning more about the fish that you long to catch may help you to communicate your desires with the captain to create a custom charter designed specifically for your enjoyment. Experienced captains, like Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind, know these species well, and consider the variations in daily conditions to put you on the fish. With over 20 years of experience, Captain Mikel has encountered large numbers of big game species. He uses wisdom and expertise to determine the best location, time, and gear to provide his guests with the ultimate big game fishing experience in the Gulf of Mexico! No two charters will be the same, as a good captain must allow conditional flexibility for each day.

Where the Wild Things Are

Gulf of Mexico Seafloor

Map of the Gulf of Mexico Seafloor Image Source: Port Publishing

Destin’s location puts anglers at a great advantage to reach the depths needed for large game fish during their seasons of migration within the area! Deep water, big game! As you can see in the map of the Gulf of Mexico’s seafloor, there seems to be a gradual slope up to a certain point where the bottom seems to drop off. Popular fishing spots for big game species around the drop off include the Edge, the Spur, the Nipple, Desoto Canyon, and the rigs. These points are reached easily by traveling about 30-40 miles SSW from the East Pass. However, to get further out, follow the fish, and allow for the day’s conditions to compliment deep sea fishing, a recommended trip for big game is always overnight.

Depth of the Gulf of Mexico

Depth Map of the Gulf of Mexico. Image Source: Texas A&M University

Each line on this depth map of the Gulf of Mexico represents measurements in meters. Coming from Destin, you see a range of lines beginning at 5 meters, then 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and all of the sudden, a crazy swarm of lines that represents the 100-500 meter drops in depth. Welcome to deep waters! You want to make sure that you have access to deep waters at first light and sunset. Depending on the moon phase, fish may be biting all night. A 3/4 day trip is enough to get you out into deep water, but if big game fish were feeding all night, you’ll have less of a chance to hook them up!  The best trips that allow you the time to hit the spot and have the opportunity to practice a variety of methods at different times during the morning, afternoon, evening, and throughout the night. The recommended charter for big game species in the northeastern territory of the Gulf of Mexico is from 36 hours to about 72 hours.


Side view of Wahoo

Image Source:

Wahoo are reportedly one of the fastest moving pelagic species in the gulf, hitting speeds of over 50 mph! A close relative to the makeral family, wahoo are large fish weighing between 35 and over 100 pounds, depending on the time of year and the age of the fish. Wahoo are unpredictable, which offers an exciting challenge for anglers seeking this species. Usually found as loners in adulthood, they are sometimes found in small schools of 2 to 6, or more in some cases. These sharp teethed zebras of the sea prey on reef and wreck dwellers. Wahoo have been known to strike when fishing for other species offshore when using trolling methods with live bait, rigs, and artificial lures. The violent shake of the head is characteristic for wahoo, and an experienced angler can tell his bite from other fish! Raved as one of the best seafood cuisines of the gulf, wahoo are sought after for their nutrient fresh quality and excellent flavor.

Catch wahoo with Finest Kind Charters

50lb Wahoo caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

: Elongated body with a deep metallic or electric blue back, silvery sides, and typically have bright blue vertical tiger stripes that run down the sides. The upper jaw is movable, and the teeth are razor sharp. Wahoo have been reported to grow as long as 8 ft and up to 183 lbs. The average size caught in the Gulf of Mexico is probably around 4 ft long and 50 lbs.

Wahoo Destin Florida Finet Kind Charters

Wahoo caught with Captain Jason Mikel

Video Source: Nuclieyeone YouTube

Bull Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi)

Ashton Howard Mahi Mahi

Bull Dophin Image Source: Ashton Howard Fine Art Florida Mahi

One of the most desired fish in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bull Dolphin, also known as the Mahi Mahi, or the Dorado. This species is fast, habitual, and produces a savory meal. Living only about five years, the Bull Dolphin grows and reproduces rapidly. Mahi Mahi are typically caught using trolling methods. Most dolphin travel in schools, but the largest of this species can be found alone in deep waters. Dolphins are commonly found near floating debris and Sargassum weed lines, because they feed on squid, flying fish, and other sea creatures that hide in floating structures. Dolphins tend to migrate towards warm water greater than 68°F. The sun’s proximity above the Gulf of Mexico heats the water to the preference of Mahi Mahi. One of the amazing features of targeting the Bull Dolphin, is that you can expect other big game species close by! You will never see a dolphin in the same light that you will in the close encounter of fishing for the species. The vivid coloring of the Mahi-Mahi is electrifying with neon appearances as the fight unravels between fish and angler. Bull Dolphins jump high out of the water, and makes for an exciting experience unsurpassed by other fish hooked in the Gulf of Mexico.

Appearance: The Bull Dolphin is characterized by dark and bright blue to neon green colors along its back with yellow sides and splotches of green, gold and blue along its body. The forehead is high and flat, and the head of the male is usually much larger than that of the female, which is more sloped. The body of the dolphin tapers dramatically from the head to the tail. Mature Bull Dolphins can grow up to 80 pounds, but average catches range from 15 to 40 lbs.

Mahi Mahi Destin FL Finest Kind Charters

Mahi Mahi caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Bull dolphin Finest Kind Destin FL

Mahi Mahi caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Bull Dolphin Destin Florida Finest Kind

Catch with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind




Video Source: StokedOnFishing YouTube

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna Destin

Yellowfin Tuna Image Source: Freedive.net2005

In the Gulf of Mexico, Yellowfin Tuna are the kings of all related species of fish! Known for their physical beauty, strong swimming techniques, and exquisite flavor, the yellowfin tuna prefer waters of 68°F or higher, which makes the Gulf of Mexico a favorable location during autumn months, and even year round. Yellowfin tuna grow rapidly, reaching full maturity in about 4-6 years. Yellowfin swim in schools, and are usually accompanied by blackfin tuna and bull dolphins. Usually dwelling within 300 feet of the surface, yellowfin tuna are often found around floating debris and seaweed. The yellowfin is a visual predator that uses light from the sun or full moon to devour prey including a variety of smaller fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. They swim about 28 mph for long distances, but can reach speeds of up to 49 mph. Tuna thrive in offshore waters, and are made with the stamina to hunt and dwell in deep water conditions. Equipped with  larger hearts, higher blood pressure, and more red muscle mass needed to move at higher speeds, yellowfin tuna are able to put up bigger fights compared to other saltwater game. The yellowfin tuna is a high in fat and contains pink to red meat, and is a favored fish meat by many Americans. The Gulf of Mexico is abundant with yellowfin, and using a variety of methods has proven successful for offshore anglers.

Yellowfin Tuna Destin, Fl Finest Kind Charters

Yellowfin Tuna caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Appearance: Like most other tuna found in the gulf, yellowfins are football shaped missiles in the open water. Yellowfins have a deep metallic, blue back that fades into yellow and silver sides. The belly is often defined with vertical lines that extend throughout the body. The second dorsal and anal fins are long, crescent shaped, and yellow. Like other tuna, yellowfins have bullet shaped heads and bony plates that run between the second dorsal and anal fins. Yellowfins can grow over 200 lbs, but average catches range between 30 to 80 lbs.

Yellowfin Tuna Finest Kind Destin, FL

Yellowfin Tuna caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Yellowfin Tuna Destin, FL Finet Kind Charters

Yellowfin Tuna caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Video Source: gulfhake1 YouTube



Sailfish Image Source: Top Tips Feed

As the representative of Florida’s state saltwater fish, the sailfish is one of the most thrilling of the billfish species. Moving at speeds up to 68 mph, the sailfish puts up a good fight when hooked to a line jumping out of, and diving into the water to throw the hook. The sailfish grow rapidly, reaching lengths of 4-5 ft in one year. Sailfish are typically found offshore in deeper waters, usually around the 100-fathom curve. Following their prey, sailfish are commonly found on the same grounds as tuna, mackerel, squid, and bait fish. They use their sails to herd schools of bait into balls for feasting. Sailfish are targeted by sports fishermen for their brilliant techniques and beauty, but they are not desired by most anglers for their taste, as the meat is relatively tough. If cooking one of these species, try smoking the meat for the best chance at a tasty meal. Sailfish are abundant in the gulf, and usually prefer warmer water above 70 degrees.Sailfish have an average life span of 4 years.

Sailfish Destin, FL Finest Kind

Sailfish caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Sailfish Fighting Destin, FL Finest Kind

Sailfish with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Sailfish Caught in Destin FL Finest Kind

Sailfish caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind


Sailfish Destin FL Finest Kind Charters

Sailfish caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Appearance:The coloration of the sailfish varies depending upon the level of excitement of the fish. The top of the body and fins are dark blue, and the sides are silvery white with brown spots and vertical bars with light blue dots. Fins are usually blackish blue, and the belly is white. Sailfish are distinguished from other billfish by their sail, in which the first dorsal fin is squared at the front, reaches a high at mid-point that is larger than the depth of the body, and has black spots. The upper jaw is elongated into a bill that forms a spear, which is circular in the cross-section. The upper jaw is about twice the length of the lower jaw. The sailfish can grow up to 11 ft long and 125 lbs, with an average catch being 4-6 ft and 30 to 50 lbs.

Video Source: NatGeoWild YouTube

White Marlin

White Marlin

Image Source: Marlin Mag

Known for the grace and beauty of a ballet dancer, and the aggressive fight of a swordsman, the white marlin is a speedy hunter that has the ability to use its bill to stun other fast-moving pelagic species before moving in for the kill. However, research of white marlin diets indicate that speed, and not spear hunting, is the most often used weapon of choice for this species. Bony fish including dolphin, mackerel, flying fish, and bonito are the usual prey, much like that of yellowfin tuna and blue marlin. Therefore, the sighting of one of these species is often in the same territory as the other, since they tend to compete for the same foods. Commonly found near the surface of deep blue waters in areas where the currents push against the contour of the seafloor near canyons and drop-offs, white marlin are migratory creatures within the gulf and tend to spread out after spawning. They are typically found in water over 325 feet deep and prefer water temperatures above 71°F. White marlin can be found closer to shore, as they prey on bait fish similar to the methods used by sailfish. The white marlin is smaller than other billfish, but still makes for an amazing catch with tail-walking and leaping abilities. White marlins are known for tailing with only the dorsal lobe of the caudal fin visible above the surface. White marlins are usually caught and released after photos are taken with anglers in the Gulf of Mexico.

White Marlin

White Marlin Catch and Release Photo

Appearance: With color changing according to the level of excitement, the white marlin is typically characterized by dark blue coloration on top, and a silvery white color on the sides and belly, and brown spots. The first dorsal fin is dark blue with black spots, which fade toward the back of the fin. The second dorsal fin and the pelvic fins are dark blue. The pectoral and caudal fins appear blackish brown with a possible white tip on the pectoral fins. The pectoral, first dorsal and first anal fins are usually rounded, rather than pointed. The first dorsal fin reaches a height larger than the depth of the white marlin body, and drastically drops to a low level for most of the body. The upper jaw forms a bill that is round at the cross section, and long and slender in comparison to other billfish. White marlin can reach up to 9 feet long and weigh 180 lbs, but the average caught is around 4-6 feet and weighs around 50-60 lbs.

White Marlin Jumping White Marlin Diving




Video Source: Brady Lybarger YouTube

Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin Image Source: Marlin Mag

The Man in the Blue Suit! The one that Ernest Hemingway often wrote about. The Blue marlin is considered the ultimate big game fish of the Gulf of Mexico. Another speedy carnivore reaching up to 60 mph, the blue marlin puts up a fight that could last for hours! Often found offshore in deep waters of 300 ft or more, the blue marlin prefers warm waters over 68°F, near the surface where it can prey on pelagic fish like bull dolphins, tuna, and mackerel. Blue marlins are often found swimming alone or in pairs. Females tend to be about four times larger than males, and can live up to 27 years, while males live for an average of 18 years of age. The Gulf of Mexico has an abundance of blue marlin, but encounters, as with all billfish species, is considered rare. With perfect conditions, a blue marlin is more typically found on trips targeting game fish that the species preys upon. Trolling methods are typically used for hooking up with this fish. Once hooked up with a blue marlin, you can expect a long fight with a strong pull, as these are one of the most athletic and largest game fish who use leaping, diving, and head-shaking to give you the most exciting deep-sea fishing experience of your life. Using light to feed proves that these creatures are visual hunters who use their bill to stun and slash prey before moving in for the kill. Blue marlin are often caught and released like the white marlin, but the meat of blue marlin is of more value for raw consumption in sushi. 

Blue Marlin Gulf of Mexico Finest Kind

Blue Marlin Caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin Image Source: Marlin Mag

Appearance: The dorsal fins and top of the blue marlin are cobalt blue with fading to light and dark brown with silvery white coloration on the belly and sides, with about 15 vertical rows of stripes draping the sides of the blue marlin. The upper jaw is elongated to form a spear with a relatively round cross-section. The dorsal pectoral, and anal fins are pointed. The first dorsal fin is high, and slopes drastically, running down the body. The second dorsal fin is small. The pelvic fins are slender with grooves to improve hydrodynamics. The blue marlin can reach up to 16 ft long and over 1,000 lbs. However, the average catch for blue marlins is about 200-450 lbs, with males rarely caught over 300 lbs.


Blue Marlin Destin Florida Finest Kind

Blue Marlin caught with Captain Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind

Where the Bite Is Gulf of Mexico by MarlinMag

Wahoo Mahi and Tuna Art

Wahoo, Dolphin, and Yellowfin Tuna Art by Terry Fox

Sailfish and Marlin

Sailfish, White Marlin, Blue Marlin Art by Terry Fox

Big game fishing for blue water species like Wahoo, Tuna, Dolphin, Sailfish, and Marlin in the Gulf of Mexico is best during the fall months of September through November, and possibly even into the beginning of December. The conditions vary by season, weather, moon phases, currents, and where the bait fish are moving. Call Captain Jason Mikel to see how the conditions are for Big Game Fall Fishing, or go ahead and Book Now! Always be sure to give yourself plenty of time on the water. This captain takes you where the fish are, but you want ensure enough flexibility for variable conditions, allowing your captain to make the best judgement within the given time! Scheduling 36-72 hours not only gets you to the deep blue, but it offers the opportunity needed to make this the ultimate deep sea fishing adventure, and a memory for the books!




Categories: All Posts

Fishing for a Mother's Day Gift?

fishing for a mothers day gift

A mother’s love is one of the greatest blessings that anyone could ask for. She’s a teacher, comforter, and an adviser that you can always count on. With your best interest at heart, Mom seems to always know how to make sense of the world. Choosing the perfect gift on the designated day to honor Mom is kind of a big deal.

happy mothers day of all the fish in the seaMemories are the Best Gifts

Fishing for a Mother’s Day gift that says the right thing can be difficult in a department store. Think back to the best gift that you ever received. Whether you wished for a certain toy as a child, or inherited a particular family treasure, the most special part of the gift was the memory of reception. Material gifts may become lost, broken, or tarnished, but the memories survive. Those memories are bread and butter behind making the occasion special. Mothers tend to have a knack for enhancing memorable events. She’s always working behind the curtains to ensure the happiness of her children. Mom is one of a kind, and deserves the best gift for each Mother’s Day.

Jewelry, candy, and flowers have all been done before. These typical Mother’s Day gifts do say, “Mom, I love you.” But, when you want something that says more, consider what made the best gift that you ever received. Remember the vivid memories of joy and happiness that were given in love. This year, give Mom the gift of making memories with a special Mother’s Day Deep Sea Fishing Charter.

Take Mom Deep Sea Fishing

As the saying goes, “The best things in life are free.” We can’t buy lifelong memories, joy, or happiness, but we can take her deep sea fishing. The experience of deep sea fishing provides an opportunity to create those special memories for Mom. Imagine the backdrop of paradise, emerald waters below, sunshine overhead, and adventure all around. As she embarks on this journey with her favorite loved ones, joy will come in the form of smiles and laughter. There is no substitute for time well spent with Mom. Take this day, this adventure, and this time to honor your mother with one of the most incredible experiences that the sea has to offer.

How to Plan Your Mother’s Day Deep Sea Fishing Charter

Whether Mom is an outdoors enthusiast who loves the open water, or an indoors book worm, there is something in a deep sea fishing charter that appeals to every type of mother. With experienced captain and crew members who know the importance of family experiences, the focus of the trip will be on making memories with Mom! There are several options to choose from. You’re sure to find the charter that will honor your mother’s wishes for time well spent on Mother’s Day.

mothers day finest kindWhich Charter is best for my mother?

  • Half-Day: A half day charter is between 4-6 hours of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and is perfect for families with only a short window to fit in some saltwater fishing while visiting Destin, Florida.
  • 3/4 Day: A ¾ day charter describes any excursion lasting between 8-10 hours. If you’re looking to get into some deep sea fishing, the ¾ day charter is recommended.
  • Full Day: A full day charter is considered to be 12-18 hours in the deep blue waters of the gulf. For mothers who are adventurous, spontaneous, or just a blast to hang out with, choose the full day charter.
  • Overnight Overnight charters are typically booked for 24-72 hours, and include twice the limits of fish. If Mom loves deep sea fishing, or loves to eat seafood, here’s your ticket to golden status! Gear up for night, or two, or three, and escape the daily distractions of the main land. Quality time is calling, and there’s no better person to spend it with, than your dear mother!

To learn more about the differences in each charter option, visit Planning the Greatest Deep Sea Fishing Adventure of You’re Life, where you’ll find details that distinguish each charter, as well as, tips and tricks on easy planning for your next charter. If you’re not able to make the trip to Destin on Mother’s Day, consider booking the charter for a more convenient date, and presenting your mother with a certificate at Mother’s Day brunch! Either way, with the thought that you’ve put into this year’s celebration of Mom, this Mother’s Day gift will be unforgettable for her!

Additional 2017 Destin Mother’s Day Events

So, what are you waiting for? BOOK NOW to give Mom the best Mother’s Day Gift in the sea! The gift of quality time and special memories!




Categories: All Posts

Blessing of the Fleet Destin, FL

blessing of the fleet destin, fl

Destin’s summer deep sea fishing season is just around the corner. It’s a time when the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding shores come to life with nonstop adventure and excitement. As captains and crew members gear up for the unknown encounters of daily deep sea fishing trips, anticipation of the annual fleet blessings draws locals and visitors to the Destin Harbor. Destin’s Annual Blessing of the Fleet displays the tradition, heritage, and culture of the coastal community by observing a time of prayer and celebration of those who make up the largest fishing fleet in the state of Florida.

Destin’s 60th Annual Blessing of the Fleet

  • Date: May 25, 2017
  • Location: 210 HWY 98 East, Destin, Florida, 32541 (Behind Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer)
  • 4:00 pm: Blessing of the Fleet Ascension Day services
  • 5:00 pm: Fleet Blessing
  • 5:30 pm: Annual Blessing Fish Fry

What is the Blessing of the Fleet?

The Blessing of the Fleet is an annual tradition honoring the men and women who utilize the resources of the sea as a means of survival. As a centuries-old ritual, fleet blessings are commonplace among ports located all over the world.

With strong roots in the Catholic Church, fleet blessings have long been established as a time of prayer and faith. This ocean to ocean tradition marks a time when locals and churches come together to pray over each fleet vessel, the captains and crew members, and their families for safe passages, bountiful catches, and prosperity.

In addition to services and ceremonial prayers, fallen fishermen and local legends are remembered as tribute of their contributions to the coastal communities.

How did Destin’s Blessing of the Fleet begin?

blessing of the fleet history

Destin, Florida 13th Annual Blessing of the Fleet 1970 Image Source: State Archives of Florida/Veselka.

Destin’s Annual Blessing of the Fleet has a history dating back to May 30, 1957, when fishermen congregated at St. Andrew’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church for communion and services conducted by founder, Reverend William Irwin.

The blessing ceremony followed the service as church members and fishermen prayed over each vessel. Back then, there were just over twenty boats, and the town was considered a small fishing community.

Those fishermen and their families built what we know today as one of America’s favorite beach and deep sea fishing destinations. The fleet has continued to grow in number, and the Destin Harbor is now recognized as home to the largest fishing fleet in the state.

Destin’s Unique History

Though Destin’s Blessing of the Fleet as an annual tradition began in 1957, the significance of prayers over the fishermen and their families is unique to those who know the story of Destin’s beginnings.

Destin was first discovered as a fishing haven by Leonard Destin in the 1830s. On his fishing voyage from New London, Connecticut, Leonard’s father and brother were lost at sea in a tragic accident close to Cape Canaveral. As Leonard continued through the Gulf of Mexico, and into the waters just below the Destin coastline, he knew that he’d found something spectacular. After Leonard settled along the shore, word soon traveled of the magnificent blessings found in the waters nearby.

Today, the blessings of the past seem to shine brighter than ever. Destin’s fleet has proved prosperous and protected from the dangerous elements of hurricanes and oil spills that have affected other coastal communities. Locals stand by their beliefs that God continues to watch over and bless the fishermen of Destin’s Harbor, just as he watched over and blessed Leonard Destin during his voyage and discovery of Destin, Florida.

The Atmosphere

Though times have changed from the early years of Destin’s introduction as a quiet fishing village, the Blessing of the Fleet takes locals and visitors back to a time when life-lines were dependent upon tight fishing lines. We are reminded of the significant role that fishermen played in building our beloved Destin community.

Though many visitors travel to Destin to witness the beautiful white sand and emerald waters of the Gulf Coast, Destin as a vacation destination would not be the same as we know it without the work of fishermen and their families, of both past and present.

Today the atmosphere during the Blessing of the Fleet transcends changes to the modern landscaping of Destin. As high-rise condominiums and tourist attractions fade away during the Blessing of the Fleet event, boats decorated with flags and bunting line up along the Destin Harbor, awaiting their chance for mass prayers extended to the vessel, the captain and crew members, and their families. The prayers also extend to all who climb aboard each vessel for deep sea fishing and recreation.

These fishermen and their families capture the same hard-working spirit of those who came before them. Thousands travel to Destin each year to witness the miraculous experience of one of the oldest traditions along the Emerald Coast. All visitors are invited to join the events surrounding Destin’s Blessing of the Fleet, as an experience unlike any other found among coastal traditions.

Week of Blessings 2015 from Coastline Calvary Chapel on Vimeo.

From the Blessing of the Fleet to the Week of Blessings

As Destin continues to maintain a prosperous reputation, the seeds of early fleet blessings have sprouted across the entire community. What began as the Blessings of the Fleet has led to an entire week of blessings for local families, emergency personnel, pastors, marketplace, and the youth.

During the annual Week of Blessings, churches from various denominations join together in prayer. Unification of Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Church of Christ, and Non-Denominational congregations are joined together to represent the Church of Destin. Through testimony and faith, prayer is strengthened, and lives are changed during the week surrounding Destin’s annual Blessing of the Fleet.

blessing of the fleet destin

Destin’s Blessing of the Fleet. Image Source: Immanuel Anglican Church

The 60th Annual Blessing of the Fleet

The year 2017 marks Destin’s 60th Annual Blessing of the Fleet. All services and ceremonies for the 60th Annual Blessing of the Fleet will be held in front of the Fisherman’s Co-op, which is directly under the back side of Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer. The address for Brotula’s is 210 HWY 98 East, Destin, Florida, 32541. Once you pull into the parking lot of Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer, take a right, then an immediate left. Follow the driveway down to the dock to find parking.

Locals and visitors are invited to attend the Blessing of the Fleet Ascension Day services at 4:00 pm, where local pastors, captains, and crew members will share testimonies and prayers for all attending the gathering.

Following the service, Destin’s fleet will line up along the Destin Harbor, and beginning at 5:00 pm, they will take turns stopping in front of the barge where Destin’s pastors pray over each vessel. Whether you hang out along the dock, enjoy a blessed dolphin cruise, or dine at one of the many harbor view restaurants, you’re sure to get a great seat to witness the blessing ceremony.

The traditional Blessing Fish Fry has been a part of the Blessing of the Fleet since its start in 1957. Following the blessing ceremony of the boats, the Blessing Fish Fry will be prepared behind Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer at 5:30 pm.

If you can’t make the 60th Annual Blessing of the Fleet Event, be sure watch the ceremony via AJ’s Harbor live Gulf Coast Beach Cams found here.


City of Destin

Emerald Coast Magazine Historicity by Christy Kearney March 2008

Emerald Coast Magazine Founding Paradise by Scott Holstein December 2010






Categories: All Posts

Destin Florida Spring Break Tips

Destin_Florida_spring_break_top_tips_for_your_family_vacationDestin, Florida is known for its exquisite sugar white sandy beaches, emerald green water, and unrivaled deep sea fishing experiences. These factors, along with breathtaking scenery painted in every direction, keep Destin as the top spring break destination for families across the United States. This once sleepy fishing village has won its place in our hearts as the perfect location to breath in the salt water air and spend time with our loved ones in one of America’s most beautiful settings.

If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’re planning your Destin, Florida spring break vacation, and you’d like to know the best tips and tricks for getting the most out of your trip. First of all, I must say that you’ve chosen a magnificent venue and a wonderful time of year to visit Destin. The spring season holds the best weather for exploring the town with cooler breezes in the morning, and warm sunny afternoons. You will most likely go home with nice tan, but without suffering from the sometimes extreme heat that follows in the summer months.

Your Destin spring break vacation will definitely be the highlight of your year regardless of how you spend the week. However, these tips and tricks will help you to navigate Destin to make your stay in paradise even more amazing.

Along the Emerald Coast Series – Pt 1 Destin from BIVFL on Vimeo.

Planning Tips

  • spring_break_deep_sea_fishing_DestinBook a Fishing Charter – If you’re going to spend time in Destin, deep sea fishing is a must-do experience. Destin is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” for a reason. With the largest fishing fleet in the state of Florida, deep sea fishing is kind of a big deal around these parts. With spring break holding one of the most popular times to visit, we recommend that you schedule your deep sea fishing trip well in advance. Never wait until you get into town to schedule your charter, because you may get stuck on a low quality boat, or you may miss out on the experience all-together. To learn more about spring break deep sea fishing in Destin, CLICK HERE.
  • Schedule Your Charter Early – Always plan your deep sea fishing charter towards the beginning of your vacation. There are times when fishing charters must be cancelled for inclement weather. Spring weather is mostly conducive to great fishing conditions, but there are always a few of those stormy days that roll in during the season. If the charter is cancelled for weather reasons, you have the option to reschedule for a trip later in the week, granted there is availability on the charter boat for another day. If not, your captain will usually recommend another charter boat, or at least point you in the right direction for securing a great charter experience.
  • Do Your Homework – Destin is filled with a variety of water activity experiences. We recommend checking online to compare reviews between different companies offering the same experiences. From dolphin cruises to pontoon boat and wave runner rentals, and parasailing, there’s plenty to keep the action going in Destin. These experiences can normally be scheduled when you get into town, but you’ll want to know the difference between each company’s reputations. As you walk along HarborWalk Village, you’ll see plenty of glass bottom boats and sea blasters, but which one is right for your family? Considering reviews from previous guests may help you to decide. To learn about water activities offered along HarborWalk Village, CLICK HERE.
  • One Day at a Time -There really is so much to do in Destin, Florida that it could take you a few weeks to experience everything. But that’s okay since you can come back again and again until you’ve seen it all. The best way to get the most out of your Destin spring break vacation is to designate a day for each experience. For example, day one might be designated for deep sea fishing and a nice cook your catch meal at one of the many world famous local seafood restaurants. Day two may be your beach day, while day three is your shopping day, and day four is your go-cart track and golf day. Planning with designated days for the activities that you intend to enjoy will ensure that everyone in your family gets to experience their favorite part of Destin’s many attractions.

Packing Tips


Image Source: Sunseeker

Make Sure to Pack Layers – Layers are your friend during your Destin spring break vacation. Make sure that you pack shorts and tanks or tees with your swimsuit for those warm sunny afternoons, but don’t forget those light jackets for mornings and evenings. You may witness temperature variances of 20-30 degrees each day, so make sure that you are packing enough to keep yourself comfortable during your vacation.

  •  Pack for Your Deep Sea Fishing Charter – In addition to the items packed for your stay in Destin, consider the items that needed for your deep sea fishing charter. Of course, layers are your friend on the charter, but you will also want to bring quick-dry clothes, non-slip shoes, sun protective gear, and motion-sickness prevention for the day of your deep sea fishing trip. For a list of everything that you’ll need to pack for your deep sea fishing trip, CLICK HERE.
  •  Never Fear, Wal-Mart is Near – Families travelling to Destin for spring break often forget sunscreen, snacks for the beach, coolers, beach towels, and floats from home. That’s why most families make a designated stop by Wal-Mart as soon as they get into town to grab the necessities before starting their Destin spring break vacations. There are some advantages to holding off until you get to Destin’s Wal-Mart to buy some of these vacation necessities.

First of all, it’s Wal-Mart, so the prices on items are pretty close to same as the products’ cost at your local store. Second, sales tax is only 6% in Destin. So, if taxes are higher where ever you live, you’re already saving money by shopping in Destin. Lastly, most food items are tax-free in Florida, as long as they are not precooked items. Of course you will pay tax at restaurants, but groceries from Destin’s Wal-Mart, or in your case, beach snacks, are non-taxable.

 Traveling Tips

  • Top of Before You Get into Florida – If you’re driving into Destin from another state, you’ll want to stop for gas just before you get into Florida, as the gas prices tend to be a little more expensive in the state of Florida than other states in the Southeast. The price averages between 10-20 cents higher per gallon than Florida’s surrounding states.  Though you are not saving a fortune, you will have a little extra pocket change for your next fill-up.

This photo of Mid-Bay Bridge is courtesy of TripAdvisor

  •  Getting into Town Traffic – Traffic coming in and out of town during the weekends is always heavy. If you are taking the Mid-Bay Bridge, which is a cash only toll bridge, or the HWY331 Bridge, and you plan to travel mid-day, plan on an hour or two of slow moving traffic. Coming in from Fort Walton Beach over the Okaloosa Island on HWY 98, though usually steady moving, traffic can also become a challenge during mid-day on the weekends. If setting in traffic drives you crazy, consider getting into town early on your check-in day, and leaving town early or late on your check-out day.

If check-in is 4:00 PM, then you can count on traffic getting heavy on the bridges by about 10:00 AM. Try to get into Destin by 7:00 AM, stop by Another Broken Egg Café or the Doughnut Hole for breakfast, swing into Wal-Mart for those items that you still need for your vacation, and then hang around somewhere close by your resort until check-in. The same consideration should be given to the day of check-out, and leaving by 7:00 AM or staying around town until after 7:00 PM are the best times to keep you moving and away from the bridge traffic.

  •  Navigating HWY 98- Weekdays during Destin’s most popular tourist seasons can place you in the middle of HWY 98 traffic at a standstill, making you late for reservations and costing valuable time during your vacation. To avoid high traffic times, plan on leaving your resort early, and sticking around the locations where any reservations may be for that day. This goes back to great planning for your trip. For example, if you have a dolphin cruise scheduled for 6:00 PM, but you plan on getting some shopping in on the same day, designate that day as a HarborWalk Village exploration day. Get there in the morning, and spend the day shopping, dining, and experiencing the coastal life offered at HarborWalk, and then walk onto your cruise that evening. If you must travel during the day for reservations, consider the time, and for mornings, add an hour of travel time, and an hour and a half or two hours for late afternoon or evening travel times.

Edited Image Source: Google Maps

As far as finding your attraction’s location, everything in Destin is accessible by way of HWY 98. East HWY 98 will bring you towards San Destin and, eventually, Panama City, while West HWY 98 will bring you back towards Fort Walton Beach, and eventually Pensacola. The beach is on the South side of Destin, so once you leave your resort, just remember your cardinal directions when navigating your way around HWY 98.

Shopping Tips

  • Check Wal-Mart before Beach Shops – Now we’re loving on Wal-Mart a little too much, but only in the efforts to save you money on your Destin vacation. You’ll find that HWY 98 in Destin and Scenic HWY 98 are both lined with beach stores where we all love to stop in for a souvenir to remember our trip by. Most of these shops have great deals on t-shirts and trinkets, but for ordinary items like flip flops, sunglasses, beach towels, etc., you want to hold off until you get to Wal-Mart. You’ll find a significant price difference on the same quality items, so don’t just run into a beach shop for a quick pick-up on essential items. Save the beach stores for souvenirs, and keep Wal-Mart as your go-to for your everyday, “Oops I forgot to grab my beach towel from home,” safety net.
  • harborwalk_village_shoppingTop Three Shop Till You Drop Locations – What goes better with coastal scenery and fishing experiences than shopping? If you love to shop for unique treasures and high-end goods, you have found paradise in Destin. With hundreds of shops and major retail outlets, you’ll find what you’re searching for in a number of locations. Here’s a list of must-visit locations around the Destin area where your family can experience the something for everyone phenomenon that tends to sparkle around this coastal town.

1. HarborWalk Village Bringing visitors into the heart of Destin where it all started, HarborWalk Village is the go to shopping venue for nautical nic-nacs, coastal art, and sports fishing goods. A mixture of high-end boutiques are nestled along the harbor where your little ones can witness charters bringing in daily catches, zip line over the village, and witness truedestin_commons magic shows. Famous restaurants like AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, Margaretville, Harry T’s, Crab Island Cantina, and Jackacuda’s Seafood and Sushi are all awaiting for your lunch or dinner break from shopping.

2. The Destin Commons – This shopping mall has a ton of major brands that we Americans love, with a Bass Pro shops situated on end with Belk on the other, and over 70 other stores in between. Dining and entertainment are also found in the Destin Commons with fun places like Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill, Johnny Rockets, Fusion Bistro, and more. Sweet treats and a relaxing venue are to be found at the Destin Commons. This is the perfect shopping location for families with youngsters and teens.

silver_sands_premium_outlets3.Silver Sands Premium Outlets Just west of Destin on HWY 98, you’ll find an area known as San Destin, where upscale coastal living is just the norm. There on the left coming from Destin, you’ll see a massive outdoor shopping mall with all of your favorite high-end brands. To make it even better, all of the stores have the brands at a discounted price. You’ll know it when you see it. With stores like Nautica, Merrell, the Gap, Osh Kosh, Gymboree, New Balance, Dooney & Burke, Columbia, Converse, Saks Fifth Avenue, Zales, and even the Disney Outlet Store, this is just heaven for serious shoppers who love to save on the best brands. You have to stop by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for chocolate covered strawberries. They are the best!

  •  Get the BookUpon your arrival in Destin, you’ll want to stop by your resort lobby or the Destin Visitor’s Center to pick up a couple of attraction booklets like the See Emerald Coast Visitor Magazine that is filled with attraction information and coupons for fun activities all over the town of Destin. You’ll save a few dollars off of many attractions, dining, and shopping experiences that will add up pretty quickly. Also, look at the brochures found in your resort lobby and the Visitor’s center, as you will also find coupon information near the bottom, on the back of the card. Make sure to let the company know that you have coupons when you make the reservation.

 Beach Tips

  • Avoiding College Students at the Beach – Destin has always been, and will remain, a family spring break vacation destination. Some college students do choose to spend their spring break vacations in Destin, as well. Most of these college students are respectable young adults who plan to enjoy their spring break along the Emerald Coast without causing any kind of problems for families with young children at the beach. However, there are always those few in the group who forget their raising, and the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Department is quick to remind them. To learn how Okaloosa County plans to keep Destin a family first spring break destination, CLICK HERE.

In any case, you’re more likely to run into college students during spring break behind the Crab Trap on scenic HWY 98, and behind the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island. If the thought of sharing the beach with a crowd of college students sounds unappealing, opt to visit the public beaches along Santa Rosa Boulevard on Okaloosa Island, the bay side of Okaloosa Island, Henderson Beach State Park, or stay at a resort with a private beach like the Emerald Grand. For a full list of great beaches in Destin, CLICK HERE.

  • Don’t Get Burned – As you probably know, Florida is nicknamed the “Sunshine State.” With Florida’s close proximity to the equator, the ultraviolet rays from the sun are very strong. You can get nasty sunburn on a cloudy day in Destin. To prevent sunburns, or any other injuries from the sun during your Destin spring break vacation, always use sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, hats, and UV ray blocking clothing, especially for young children. You may not realize that your child has sunburn until you are back at your resort room, and it may seem odd that you were only at the beach for an hour on a cloudy day. Always come to the Sunshine State prepared with protective gear to prevent harmful UV rays from wrecking your week.
  •  Stay Hydrated – Another important factor to consider with the Florida sun is that you will need to keep yourself hydrated with plenty of fluids, even though the heat may not seem so bad. This again is especially important for children and also elderly family members. The beautiful scenery and exciting attractions can make many of us less in-tune with our body’s discomfort. Keeping a cooler in your vehicle with water and Gatorade or PowerAde during your Destin vacation can help to keep hydration a priority. When you arrive at the beach, make sure to have your cooler in tow. Avoid consuming too many sodas, since they can cause swelling when paired with Florida’s sun.

Finest Kind LogoWith these tips and tricks, you are sure to make the most of your 2017 Destin spring break vacation. Remember to plan ahead and do your homework, to pack layers, and plan on a trip or two to Wal-Mart. Once you’ve visited Destin, Florida, you’ll want to go again. You’ve a great decision to embark on an adventure in Destin, where you’ll witness the most beautiful scenery and encounter the friendliest locals. Get ready for the spring break vacation of a lifetime.

Don’t forget to book your deep sea fishing charter early. For more information on spring break deep sea fishing in Destin, check out Charter Fishing Destin.

Ready to book your Spring Break 2017 Deep Sea Fishing Charter? BOOK NOW



Categories: All Posts

50 SHADES OF GREEN: The Luckiest Saint Patrick’s Day Destination

50 Shades of Green The Luckiest Saint Patrick's Day Destination

Celebrate this Saint Patrick’s Day in Destin, Florida, where you’ll catch some luck of your own along the Emerald Coast! The nickname says it all! As the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin seems to have an Irish heritage that runs deep! You’re sure to find well over 50 shades of green throughout this paradise. From the emerald waters to the beautiful green golf courses, there is no lack of the shade of green you desire to surround yourself with this Saint Patrick’s Day. Cast a line, and reel in a lucky charm for your cooler, hunt for sand dollars and sea shells at the beach, become an official Irishman, and celebrate with festivities and Irish traditions along Destin’s Boardwalk this Saint Patrick’s Day!

World's Luckiest Fishing Village

Lucky Catches on the Finest Kind of Destin, Florida

What’s Your Shade of Green?

When you choose to celebrate your Saint Patrick’s Day 2017 in Destin, your timing couldn’t be more perfect! Embrace the emerald green waters surrounding the shoreline, and embark on an adventure into the Gulf of Mexico. Once you sink a line on one of Destin’s finest deep sea fishing charters, there’s only a matter of time until you fill your chest with a golden catch! As our most prized resources along the Emerald Coast, you shall consider yourself a lucky lad as you fish the waters of the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village!”

With so many options to choose from, a deep sea fishing charter can be customized to fit your clan’s desires for an adventurous Saint Patrick’s Holiday celebration. Shorter, half day trips are designed for the wee ones, and longer charters, including 3/4 and full day, and even overnight and Middle Ground trips, can be arranged for those who seek the full experience of Saint Patrick’s Day traditions in paradise! Destin fishermen are anticipating one of the best seasons that we’ve seen in years, and we do expect our private and group charter vacancies to fill up fast for the Destin Spring Fishing Season. As the most desirable area to fish for saltwater game, we recommend that you start your planning your charter now!

St. Patrick's Day Destin

St. Patrick’s Celebrations at HarborWalk Village Photo Credit: Jody Felder Source: Flickr

More Saint Patrick’s Day Fun Around Destin

Experience FUN, THRILLS, and GILLS at HarborWalk Village with tons of activities centered on the Luck of the Irish!  The Boardwalk will provide hours of excitement for the wee ones and seasoned lads with live entertainment, dining, shopping, and adventurous attractions. Stroll along the dock to see the catch of the day among Florida’s largest fishing fleet, and observe the emerald glow of cheer radiating from the day’s charter groups.

Gather your clan to “Sham-Rock” along the dock with the 9th Annual Grogg March at HarborWalk Village. Support a local cause with an armband to enjoy drink specials throughout the night as live entertainment and green drinks provoke Irish toasts for luck and happiness! Don’t forget to brush up on your Irish Toasts before you hit the scene in your shade of green! Purchase tickets HERE!

Looking to fit in some tee time during your hunt for Destin’s green? Try your luck at some of Florida’s most popular courses. Destin is one of America’s favorite golf destinations with courses like Regatta Bay Golf and Yacht Club, Kelly Plantation Golf Club, Indian Bayou Golf Club, Burnt Pine Golf Club at Sandestin, Baytowne Golf Club, and Emerald Bay Golf Club.

Become an Official Irishman at McGuire’s Irish Pub

McGuire's Irish Pub Destin

McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin. Florida

Irish traditions are always big at McGuire’s Irish Pub, but on March 17th, celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day at McGuire’s is a must do in Destin, Florida! With many shades of green hanging from the ceiling, on the roof top, and at every angle in sight, you’ll never experience a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration quite the same as the party found in the dining venue, pub, and brewery of Destin’s McGuire’s. With an estimated 1.75 million others who have hung a signed dollar bill for good luck, joining the Molly Martin tradition at the Destin pub makes you an official Irishman with the papers and luck to prove it! 

As you reach your potential as a true Irishman, you’ll experience the sounds of bagpipers playing in the waiting area, traditional Irish music throughout the pub, and a hefty serving of the Saint Patty’s Day favorite, corn beef & cabbage. If you’re celebrating your birthday in Destin this Saint Patrick’s Day 2017, don’t forget to boost your luck with McGuire’s Kiss the Moose tradition for a birthday ceremony that you’ll never forget! 

Planning Your Destin Saint Patrick’s Day Experience!

Destin is truly the luckiest destination to spend your Saint Patrick’s Day 2017! Where else can you become an actual Irishman, garner luck in so many ways, fish in the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” in emerald green water, and embark on a true Irish adventure unsurpassed by any other American destination! This is paradise! Start planning your Destin, Florida Saint Patrick’s Day Vacation now, and don’t forget to schedule your deep sea fishing charter to get the “reel” Destin experience! Book a room at the Emerald Grande, and you’ll be at the center of all Saint Patrick’s Day festivities in Destin, with an incredible view of the Emerald Coast!

Sharks Gathering Outside Destin Pass Florida by Birds-iView Aerial Photography









Categories: All Posts

Destin Mardi Gras Pardi in Paradise Parade and Celebration

HarborWalk Mardi Gras Parade

Mardi Gras Parade in HarborWalk Village Destin, Florida Image Source: Emerald Coast Properties, INC.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mardi Gras Pub Crawl HarborWalk Village Destin

Mardi Gras Pub Crawl HarborWalk Village Destin Image Source: Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village

We always know how to let the good times roll on the Emerald Coast, but Mardi Gras in Destin, Florida takes the king cake on elaborate fun for all during the annual Pub Crawl, Parade, and Fat Tuesday celebrations. Revelers of all ages are encouraged to hit the scene of HarborWalk Village for an over-the-top Carnival filled with excitement! Whether you’re in town for a family vacation, visiting with friends, or planning to embark on the best deep sea fishing that you’ll ever encounter, celebrating Mardi Gras Destin style is a must on everyone’s bucket list!

Mardi Gras Pub Crawl

HarborWalk Village hosts the annual Mardi Gras Pub Crawl where revelers are invited to dress in green, purple, and gold to masquerade, march, and crawl, from pub to pub along the Destin Boardwalk. Tickets are available through Eventbrite, where you’ll get passes that include drink specials at each pub stop on the list. Remember to get your tickets stamped, and join the after party at the final stop for grand prize raffles!

Mardi Gras Destin Parade 2017Annual Mardi Gras Parade

Mark your calendar for the annual Pardi in Paradise with Destin’s largest Mardi Gras Parade, and fill your cups with plenty of swag and throws from festive floats as street performers, music, and colorful masquerade costumes set the scene for this one of a kind experience in HarborWalk Village! This family friendly event is a carnival celebration to remember. Bring your family and friends to join the krewes, and witness the majestic atmosphere along the boardwalk. Entry into the Mardi Gras Parade is free! If you and your krewe would like to join the march, send an email to! If you will be in the Destin, Florida area for the weekend, don’t miss the Mardi Gras Parade on the Harbor! 

Mardi PAWS Costume Contest

Is there anything cuter than puppies dressed in costumes? How about dressing them in Mardi Gras costumes! Parade your pups along the Destin Harbor with their festive Mardi Gras wear for the Mardi Paws Costume Contest. Local judges will award first, second, and third place prizes to the best costumes. There is sure to be plenty of laughter and fun at this event, and your pup will surely be thankful that you included him or her in this Mardi Gras festivity.

Mardi Gras Parade at HarborWalk Village Destin, Florida

Mardi Gras Parade at HarborWalk Village Image Source: Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village

Fat Tuesday Celebration

When it comes to Fat Tuesday Celebrations, Destin’s HarborWalk Village delivers the perfect location to spend your Mardi Gras holiday! The Destin Boardwalk is hopping with excitement for the whole family with restaurants, pubs, and entertainment everywhere you look! Take a stroll down the dock to see the catch of the day among Destin’s finest charter fleet, board a dolphin cruise around the harbor, Choctawhatchee Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico, or indulge in some of the greatest deep sea fishing experiences the world has to offer. One thing is for sure! There is something for everyone at HarborWalk Village in Destin, Florida, and our Mardi Gras celebrations deliver great times, memories, and fun filled adventures for visitors of all ages.

Summer Fat Tuesday Parades

For Destin, Mardi Gras doesn’t end in February! HarborWalk Village continues to laissez les bons temps rouler, (let the good times roll), every Tuesday night during the summer season! That’s right! Every summer Tuesday is a Fat Tuesday at HarborWalk Village in Destin Florida! The party starts promptly at 7:00pm, and the parade marches in at 8:30pm! Watch the Destin Boardwalk transform into the Big Easy, and celebrate with the best krewes of the Gulf Coast!  After the parade, stick around for drinks and live entertainment on the Main Stage! We’ll see you there!

HarborWalk Village Pardi in Paradise Mardi Gras Celebration and Parade Schedule 2017

Mardi Gras 2017 DestinFriday February 24th: Mardi Gras Pub Crawl 6PM – 12AM

Dress the part in Mardi Gras colors for this event and crawl from pub to pub with your closest friends. Enjoy drink specials at each stop and Let the Good Times Roll! $10.00 donation to Food For Thought Outreach Inc. Tell us if you’ll attend HERE!

6:00 PM-8:00 PM: Fishheads I Margaritaville, Destin I Grande Vista Bar & Grille
8:00 PM-10:00 PM: Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi I Harry T’s Lighthouse
10:00 PM-12:00 AM: Jester Mardi Gras Daiquiris – HarborWalk I Crab Island Cantina
12:00 AM: Coyote Ugly Saloon- Destin

Saturday, February 25th: 9th Annual Mardi Gras Parade 2PM – 5PM

The largest Mardi Gras Parade in Destin! Get there early to grab your spot! The HarborWalk Village Mardi Gras Parade is a family friendly event! Free to revelers! If your krewe is interested in participating in the 9th  Annual Mardi Gras Parade on the Harbor, email to for an official application. Anglers and Paradise Dwellers are encouraged to attend! 

Mardi Paws Costume Contest 2017Tuesday, February 28th: Mardi PAWS Costume Contest 6PM-8PM

Who let the dog’s out? HarborWalk Village will host the first annual Mardi PAWS Costume Contest, so make sure to bring out your four legged best friends for this canine friendly event. To enter contact Ryan at

There is a $10.00 entry fee donation that will be given to Alaqua Animal Rescue and Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, or enter free with a donation of dried dog food. Dress your pup in his or her Mardi Gras best for a fun time that benefits a cause for local animals.

Tuesday, February 28th: Fat Tuesday Celebration 5PM -9PM

FREE red beans and rice compliments of Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi while it lasts!



Learn more about what HarborWalk Village has to offer!

Book a Deep Sea Fishing Charter with the Finest Kind!

Find Accomadations in Destin, Florida!



Categories: All Posts

Top 10 Valentine’s Day Experiences in Destin 2017

Valentine's Day Destin, Florida

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it is time to start brainstorming for the most epic way to say, “I love you!” Cards, flowers, chocolates, and overcrowded restaurants have all been done before, so it’s time to go big or go home with something new! Bring your special someone to Destin, Florida to celebrate love this Valentine’s Day, and create an unforgettable adventure on the Emerald Coast!

Destin sets the scene for creating lifelong memories with a backdrop of sugar white sand, emerald water, and beautiful pink sunsets! With so many romantic things to do, each activity holds a unique, over-the-top experience that you can only find here in the heart of the Emerald Coast! For new couples, growing families, and sweetheart veterans, there is something in the water for everyone! Here’s a list of the top 10 Valentine’s Day experiences in Destin, Florida for 2017’s season of love!

Deep Sea Fishing Destin Valentine's Day1. Deep Sea Fishing: A VALENTINE’S EXPERIENCE FOR ALL AGES

Deep sea fishing for Valentine’s Day in Destin tops the list for many reasons! Whether you’re celebrating the season of love with family, your better half, or just getting to know that special someone, deep sea fishing in Destin during your Valentine’s getaway is a must! For a creative way to tell your sweetheart “I love you,” take this opportunity to embark on an adventure into the Gulf of Mexico for a memory that will last forever, and reveal that hook, line, and sinker kind of love hold that they have on your heart! Besides, you can’t travel to the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and not fish with your own personal catch of the sea!


Destin Beach Sand Sculptures Proposal 2. Beach Marriage Proposal: A VALENTINE’S DAY LOVE STORY

So you’ve hooked the ultimate catch, and you want to reel this romance in for the long run! Destin, Florida is the perfect venue for the paramount occasion of marriage proposal this Valentine’s Day! One of the most thoughtful and romantic ways to propose in paradise is to say it with sand! Leave your sticks on land, and let the pros at Beach Sand Sculptures set up this beautiful scene! Surprise your sweetheart with a day that she’ll never forget. What an amazing way to say, “I love you more than all the sand in the sea, give me this honor, and marry me!”


Lulus Buffet Tropical Re-Union Vow Renewal Destin3. Lulu’s Buffet: TROPICAL RE-UNION VOW RENEWAL

For those who have already made it official, but want to recapture the magic of your wedding day, cruise on over to LuLu’s Buffet for the second annual Tropical Re-Union Vow Renewal! Join other couples devoted to their sweethearts to start this tradition with complimentary wedding cake, flowers for the bride, a champagne toast, and certificates of re-union! Dance and sing to the love songs that once brought you together, and take in the scenery of Choctawhatchee Bay with plenty of tasty treats to enjoy! Your personal love story will be the center of this adventure! The Tropical Re-Union Wedding Vow Renewal will be held at at Lulu’s Buffet in Destin on Sunday, February 12th at 2PM! Registration begins at 11AM.


Emerald Grande Spa Destin4. The Emerald Grande Spa: ROMANTIC COUPLES MASSAGE

Pamper your sweetheart, and yourself, with a couple’s massage at the Emerald Grande’s Spa! With views to set the mood, and total body relaxation, all stresses will fade away for an experience that focuses on nothing more than the love that you have for one another. Choose from a variety of massage packages, and enjoy a romantic atmosphere designed to bring couples closer together with private treatment rooms in the most luxurious resort and spa on the Emerald Coast. 


SunQuest Solaris Destin5. SunQuest Cruises’ Solaris: VALENTINE’S DAY DINNER CRUISE

Venture into the emerald waters of Destin with your sweetheart by your side, as you celebrate a romantic night aboard SunQuest Cruises’ Solaris. This 125 foot yacht is sure to provide the perfect venue for such a special occasion! Dinner is served with a chef-prepared, three-course meal, and live entertainment, and scenery under the stars makes this Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise one for the books! This Valentine’s Dinner and Dancing Cruise sets sail on Tuesday, February 14th at 7PM, and lasts until 10PM. 


Southern Star Dolphin Cruise6. Southern Star Dolphin Cruises: VALENTINE’S SUNSET CRUISE

Cruise along the Destin Harbor, Choctawhatchee Bay, and Gulf of Mexico with your sweetheart on the Southern Star Dolphin and Sunset Cruise! During your tour, you’ll encounter marine life, feed the birds, and enjoy music as you learn the history of Destin. This voyage is perfect for couples and families of all ages who believe in miracles and love dolphins. Complimentary wine and cheese will be provided for adults to further enhance this romantic experience! The Southern Star offers several departure times throughout the day, but the special Valentine’s Sunset Cruise will depart on Tuesday, February 14th, from 4:00PM to 6:00PM.


Just Sailing Destin7. Just Sailing: SAIL AWAY THIS VALENTINE’S DAY

For a more intimate experience on the waters of Destin, Florida, consider surprising your special someone with a private charter on a stunning schooner that is sure to make his or her day, or evening! Take a break from everything on land, and enjoy Destin’s breeze from the heart of the Emerald Coast waters! Sail away to another realm, where you and your sweetheart are the focus of this adventurous excursion! Just Sailing also offers a variety of departure times, so you’ll have a chance to fit this romantic experience into your Destin Valentine’s Getaway!


HarborWalk Village Destin, Florida8. HarborWalk Village: A VALENTINE’S DAY SWEETSPOT

With so much to do in HarborWalk Village of Destin, Florida, your 2017 Valentine’s Day is sure to be a hit. Experience shopping at some of the Destin area’s most unique boutiques, dining with a view on the water at one of Florida’s many favorite harbor restaurants, or embark on one of the thrilling activities found around Destin’s Boardwalk! Stroll along the dock to experience the culture of paradise with plenty of scenery and live entertainment to set the mood! Experiencing HarborWalk Village is a must for visitors of all ages!


The Track Family Recreation Center Destin9. The Track: FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the young, and the young at heart, at The Track Family Recreation Center. With mini-golf, go-karts, bumper rides, tot rides, and big thrills like bungee jumping and sky flying, you’ll have plenty of flutters and laughs as you draw closer together! Great for couples of all ages and children, visiting The Track in Destin, Florida is one of the best adventures for memory making this Valentine’s Day! Skip the lines by ordering your tickets in advance, and share the excitement with your sweetheart!


Destin Beach at Sunset10. Public Beaches: MOONLIT WALK ON THE BEACH

After embarking on the best Valentine’s Day experiences in Destin, you’ll still have time to keep the romance afloat with a moonlit stroll along one of the many public beaches on the Emerald Coast. With white sand under foot, take your sweetheart’s hand, and walk beside the crashing waves in paradise. No distractions will interrupt your one on one moment, as you take the time to appreciate one another upon the most beautiful scenery in Destin, Florida!



Destin, Florida offers our visitors plenty of choices to experience breathtaking scenery, exciting adventures, and memory making moments! Add a chapter to your love story this Valentine’s Day in Destin, and you’ll see why locals and visitors refer to the Emerald Coast as paradise! There is no better place to be for Valentine’s Day 2017 than Destin, Florida!







Categories: All Posts


Image Source: Family

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to grab those fish fillets from this year’s catch out of the freezer, and channel your inner Martha Stewart for a feast that your guests will never forget. Bring the taste of coastal living into your home this Thanksgiving with our favorite recipes for Destin’s local harvest.

The First Thanksgiving


Image source:

Thanksgiving is a time when we all come together to recognize the blessings that we’ve been given throughout the year. Dating back to November of 1621, when Wampanoag Indians and Pilgrims shared a feast at Plymouth, a celebration of harvest evolved into the Thanksgiving tradition that we continue still today.

Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie are some of the ingredients that make the Thanksgiving holiday special for many families across America. But before you make that mad dash to the supermarket to pick up all of the must-haves to make your Thanksgiving feast fit the American tradition, let’s look back at the first harvest celebration.

The menu for that very first meal at Plymouth was a symbolic moment of being thankful for the fruits of the land, and sharing the gift of fellowship with neighbors who were willing to recognize the abundance of valuable resources nearby. In short, they were thankful for what was already available.

Turkey, geese, ducks, swans, deer, and fish are believed to be present at that very first Thanksgiving meal, as these meat sources were plentiful in the local area. Sides consisted of corn, cabbage, squash, onions, beans, carrots, spinach, and possibly peas, as the autumn season was a time of harvest for domestic crops. Instead of pumpkin pie, it is believed that the pumpkins were hollowed and filled with spices, milk, and honey, then roasted for a custard dish.

You can learn more about the first Thanksgiving meal here.

Destin Thanksgiving

Much like the Wampanoag Indians and Pilgrims who were thankful for the gifts of the land during that first Thanksgiving meal, Destin locals show an immense appreciation for the resources that built the city from a desolate land to the thriving city that it is today.

Destin is historically recognized as a blessed coastal community with an abundance of harvestable fish. This dates back to the 17th century when Leonard Destin settled in what we all know now as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” Throughout the years, fishermen have come from all over the world to fish the waters just off the coast of Destin.

Though the once sleepy fishing village has now grown into one of America’s favorite tourist destinations with the largest fishing fleet in the state of Florida, locals continue to acknowledge what started it all. The blessings of bountiful catches are recognized as the most valuable resource to the area. Annual traditions like the Blessings of the Fleet and the Destin Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo are celebrated throughout the year to recognize the gifts of harvest given to the fishermen, the community, and visitors who partake in the tradition of deep sea fishing out of Destin’s famous harbor.

Around the tables of Destin’s fishing fleet captains and crew members, you’ll find more than turkey and dressing. Most of these families are giving thanks for a great year of fishing with goods harvested from the waters just off the Destin coast. If you pop in on a Destin fisherman’s Thanksgiving dinner, you’re likely to find snapper, amberjack, mackerel, tuna, shrimp, and oysters with all the trimmings that go perfectly with a coastal living Thanksgiving meal. After all, what all fishermen are most thankful for after their families is the abundant harvest of this year’s catch.

Our Favorite Saltwater Fish Recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner

In the spirit of being thankful for what you have readily available this Thanksgiving, we encourage you to grab those fish fillets from this year’s catch out of the freezer, and celebrate the harvest feast with some local recipe favorites.

Main Course

Baked Fish Fillet Recipe
Grilled Red Snapper
Blackened Amberjack
Grilled Triggerfish with Escarole and Roasted Peppers
Florida King Mackerel Steaks with Herb Citrus Butter and Garlic Snap Beans
Guava Glazed Mahi Mahi with Coconut Bamboo Rice, Tempura Baby Bok Choy & Coconut Curry Sauce
Black Pepper Crusted Yellowfin Tuna Seared Rare

Appetizers and Sides

Southern Seafood Stuffing
Baked Coconut Shrimp
Harbor Docks Smoked Tuna Dip
Spicy Jalapeno Cheese and Bacon Oysters
Hush Puppies with Cream-Style Corn
Fried Corn


Lemon Meringue Pie
Key Lime Cake

Main Course

Baked Fish Fillet Recipe

Recipe contributed by Jan Slagell

  • 2 lbs. fish fillets
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter- melted
  • 10 gloves garlic chopped (5tsp minced)
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 1 tbs. black pepper
  • 3 tbs. chili sauce or 2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 tsp. parsley
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 2 tsp. garlic season
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs. onion powder or 1 onion sliced
  • 1 cup Worcestershire sauce


1. Let fish marinate in a bowl for 30 minutes before placing entire contents on pan in a single layer.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until fish is flaky.

Grilled Red Snapper

Recipe contributed by Sizzler

  • 2 red snapper fillets, halved
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/8 tsp. onion salt
  • 1/8 tsp. thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbs. minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup butter


1. Mix together paprika, cayenne, salt, garlic salt, onion salt, thyme, oregano, and pepper. Sprinkle over each side of the red snapper.
2. Oil grill grate and preheat grill.
3. Bring lemon juice to a boil.
4. Remove from heat and add butter.
5. Mix well.
6. Grill red snapper until done. (About 4 minutes per side.)
7. Remove fish from grill. Add parsley to lemon butter.
8. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter mixture over each piece of fish.
(Garnish with parsley)


Blackened Amberjack

Recipe contributed by Oxmoor House

  • 1 (1-pound) amberjack fillet
  • 1 tbs. paprika
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
  • Cooking spray


1. Cut fillet into 4 equal pieces. Combine paprika and next 6 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Dredge fish in spice mixture; let stand 5 minutes.
2. Coat a large cast-iron skillet with cooking spray; place over high heat until very hot.
3. Add fish, and cook 3 minutes. Turn fish, and cook 3 to 4 additional minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Fish should look charred.

(You may prefer to do this procedure outside due to the small amount of smoke that is created.)


Grilled Triggerfish with Escarole and Roasted Peppers

Recipe contributed by Chef Tim Creehan


1. Prepare the roasted peppers.
2. Preheat a grill surface. Brush the triggerfish with olive oil and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
3. Grill the triggerfish filets until thoroughly cooked.
4. Prepare the escarole and place on the base of four dinner plates. Place the grilled triggerfish filets on top of the sautéed escarole.
5. Top the triggerfish filets with the roasted peppers and drizzle balsamic vinegar over each triggerfish filet.
6. Garnish the triggerfish with chopped basil.


Florida King Mackerel Steaks with Herb Citrus Butter and Garlic Snap Beans

Recipe contributed by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

  • 4 (6-ounce) Florida King Mackerel steaks
  • 1 cup flour, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Citrus Butter

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. orange zest, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. lime zest, chopped fine
  • 1 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped fine

Garlic Snap Beans

  • 1/2 pound Florida snap beans, stems trimmed
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienne
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


1. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
2. Lightly dredge each fillet in the seasoned flour.
3. Add the olive oil to the preheated sauté pan.
4. Carefully add the coated fillets to the sauté pan.
5. Cook fillets for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until completely cooked throughout.
6. Remove cooked fillets from pan and serve with green beans and citrus butter.

Citrus Butter

1. Mix all ingredients into a small bowl and stir to combine.

Garlic Snap Beans

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Carefully add the bell pepper and onion; cook for about 1 minute.
3. Add the beans and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute or until crisp and tender.
5. Add lemon juice and toss before serving.

Guava Glazed Mahi Mahi with Coconut Bamboo Rice, Tempura Baby Bok Choy & Coconut Curry Sauce

Recipe contributed by Emeril’s Florida and


Image Source:

Coconut Curry Sauce

  • 2 tbs. peanut oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, smashed and chopped
  • 1 Thai chili, chopped
  • 1 tbs. red Thai curry paste
  • 6 tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 cup vermouth
  • 2 cups Chicken stock
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Guava Glaze

  • cups guava paste
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed then chopped

Coconut Bamboo Rice

  • 2 cups of bamboo rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water

Mahi Mahi and Tempura Bok Choi

  • 4 (7 ounce) pieces fresh mahi mahi
  • 1 quart plus 1 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 4 pieces baby bok choi
  • 2 cups tempura batter mix, homemade or store-bought
  • Ice water


1. In a medium saucepot gently sauté the green onion, shallot, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass with the peanut oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
2. Add in the curry paste and chili and continue to cook for a few minutes more, stirring to incorporate.
3. Put in the herbs, spices and brown sugar and cook for two more minutes. Deglaze with vermouth and continue to cook. When it has cooked completely dry, add in the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half.
4. Pour in the coconut milk and increase heat to high and bring it to a boil then remove sauce from the heat and let it cool at room temperature.
5. Puree the sauce in a blender and strain it through a fine sieve.
6. Reheat the sauce when needed and finish it with fresh cilantro, lemon juice, and salt.

Black Pepper Crusted Yellowfin Tuna Seared Rare

Recipe contributed by Tim Creehan and Destin Ice House, Inc.

  • 4 (6oz) Yellow Fin Tuna Steaks
  • Black Pepper
  • ½ Cup Canola Oil
  • 4 Cups Spinach, cleaned
  • 4 tsp. Soy Sauce
  • 4 tsp. Rice Vinegar
  • Pinch Ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Water
  • 2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Chive, chopped
  • ½ Sweet Red Pepper, diced
  • 20 Chives, whole


1. Blend the soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, water, crushed red pepper and chopped chives. Let the sauce stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (The sauce is available at Destin Ice Seafood Market already prepared.)
2. Press the black pepper into both sides of the tuna steak.
3. Heat the canola oil in a sauté pan until very hot.
4. Sear the tuna steaks for 10 seconds on each side and remove from pan.
5. Place the spinach in the sauté pan and toss until wilted.
6. Transfer the spinach to 4 large dinner plates.
7. Thinly slice the tuna across the grain.
8. Arrange the tuna slices over the spinach in a star shape. Garnish the tuna with diced red pepper, whole chives and finish with prepared sauce.

Appetizers and Sides

Southern Seafood Stuffing
Baked Coconut Shrimp
Harbor Docks Smoked Tuna Dip
Spicy Jalapeno Cheese and Bacon Oysters
Hush Puppies with Cream-Style Corn
Fried Corn

Southern Seafood Stuffing

Recipe contributed by Jan Slagell

  • ½ cup margarine
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound crab meat, drained and flaked
  • ½ pound medium shrimp – peeled and deveined
  • ½ cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1 (6 ounce) package corn bread stuffing mix
  • 2 tbs. white sugar divided
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth


1. Melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, celery crabmeat and shrimp; cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the stuffing, bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
3. Mix in the vegetables and seafood from the skillet.
4. Stir in the cream of mushroom soup and as much of the chicken broth as you like.
5. Spoon into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
6. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly toasted on top.

 Baked Coconut Shrimp

Recipe contributed by Jan Slagell

    • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp peeled and deveined
    • 1 tbs. lime juice
    • ¼ tsp. crush red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 cup pineapple preserves
    • 2 egg whites
    • 2 tbs. cornstarch
    • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut


1. Combine lime juice, pepper flakes and pineapple preserves in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a small bowl beat egg whites with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.
4. Place cornstarch and coconut on two separate plates. Hold shrimp by the tail and dip and coat the shrimp with cornstarch.
5. Next, dip the shrimp in the egg whites and finally in the coconut coating well.
6. Place shrimp on the cookie sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes or until coconut is a golden brown. Make sure to turn it once halfway through (around 8 minutes into cooking time) to make sure both sides are brown.
7. Serve with pineapple dipping sauce.

Harbor Docks Smoked Tuna Dip


Image Source: Active Rain

Recipe contributed by Joel Jadofsky

    • 2 1/2 lbs. fresh yellowfin tuna
    • 1 quart water
    • 1/4 cup salt
    • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (can use more or less depending on your preferred consistency)
    • 1 tbs. black pepper
    • 1 tbs. garlic powder
    • Hot sauce to taste


1. Combine salt and water. Soak tuna steaks in a salt water brine for one hour before smoking.
2. Transfer to a smoker and smoke until cooked through (do not overcook).
3. Chop smoked tuna steaks to your desired consistency (rough chopped or finely chopped – Harbor Docks chops fine).
4. In a stainless steel mixing bowl, combine smoked tuna, mayonnaise, pepper and garlic powder and mix well.

Spicy Jalapeno Cheese and Bacon Oysters

Recipe contributed by Sea Oats Motel

    • 36 Florida oysters, shucked, on the half shell
    • Rock salt
    • 12 ounces low-fat mozzarella cheese, grated
    • ½ cup cooked bacon, crumbled
    • 4 Florida jalapeno peppers, chopped


1. Arrange oysters on rock salt in a baking dish.
2. Top each oyster with ½ teaspoon of the cheese crumbled bacon and chopped jalapeno to taste.
3. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until edges of oysters begin to curl.

Hush Puppies with Cream-Style Corn

Recipe contributed by Diana Rattray

    • 1 cup yellow or white cornmeal
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1 can cream style corn (approximately 15 ounces)
    • milk, if needed


1. Heat the oven to 200 F.
2. Set a cooling rack in a large, rimmed baking sheet.
3. In a deep, heavy saucepan, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil to 370 F. Or heat the oil in an electric deep fryer to 370 F.
4. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir the chopped onion into the dry mixture, and then stir in the cream-style corn. (If the mixture is too thick, add a small amount of milk.)
5. Use a tablespoon or small cookie scoop to drop the batter into the hot vegetable oil.
6. Fry the hush puppies in small batches of 4 or 5 until golden brown, or about 2 minutes, turning to make sure all sides are evenly browned.
7. Remove the hush puppies to paper towels to drain for a minute or two and then move them to the rack in the prepared pan. Place the pan in the oven to keep fried hush puppies warm while you fry subsequent batches.

Tips and Variations

    • Use neutral-flavored oil for deep-frying, such as vegetable oil, canola, or peanut oil.
    • Add finely chopped green onion to the hush puppies in place of the onions.
    • Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of onion powder for extra onion flavor.
    • Add a few tablespoons of crumbled cooked bacon to the batter.
    • Add about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the batter

Fried Corn

Recipe contributed by Jessica Baggett

    • 2 cans of white creamed corn
    • 6-10 Slices of your preferred bacon
    • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Fry bacon on medium high heat in a cast iron skillet, and then set bacon aside to cool.
2. Pour both cans of creamed corn into hot bacon grease.
3. Crumble bacon and add to the corn mixture.
4. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes.
5. Serve warm.


Lemon Meringue Pie
Key Lime Cake

Lemon Meringue Pie


Image Source: Food

Recipe contributed by Paula Dean and Food

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 (8-inch) prebaked pie shell or crumb crust


  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar

1. In medium bowl, combine milk, lemon juice, and zest; blend in egg yolks. Pour into cooled crust.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
3. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks from. Gradually beat in the sugar until stiff.
4. Spread over filling; seal to edge of crust.
5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until meringue is golden brown.

Key Lime Cake

key lime cake

Image Source: Food

Recipe contributed by Trisha Yearwood and Food

For the Cake:

  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • Flour, for dusting pan
  • 1 (3-ounce) package lime flavored gelatin
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, slightly beaten

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup key lime juice (from about 25 small key limes or 4 large regular limes)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the Icing:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick butter), room temperature
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (1 pound) box confectioners’ sugar


For the Cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour one 9-by-12-by-2-inch cake pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the gelatin, granulated sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to mix well. Add the oil, orange juice, lemon juice, vanilla, and eggs. Mix until well combined.
3. Pour the batter evenly in the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Test for doneness by lightly touching the tops or inserting a toothpick.
4. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

For the glaze:

1. While the cake is still hot, mix the lime juice and confectioners’ sugar together well.
2. Pierce the cake with a fork to allow the glaze to soak in better and pour it over the cake on the cooling rack.
3. Allow cake to cool completely as you prepare the icing.

For the icing:

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese.
2. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until mixture is smooth and easy to spread.
3. Spread the icing on the top and sides of the cake.

Cook’s Note: you can also use three 9-inch round cake pans and make this into a layer cake.







Categories: All Posts

Party Boats vs Group Charters vs Private Charters

The Differences Between Party Boats Group Charters and Private Charters

If you ever get the chance to take a stroll along the Destin Harbor, you’re guaranteed to witness two things: the largest fishing fleet in the state of Florida and plenty of booking booths promising the best deals on deep sea fishing. Many Destin, Florida vacationers choose to wait until they get into town before securing their spot on a deep sea fishing trip, only to find an overwhelming number of options and the chance of missing out on the experience all together. Planning ahead and scheduling your trip in advance can help to avoid signing up for a deep sea fishing trip that you regret.

Understanding the difference between party boats, group charters, and private charters is crucial in the process of deciding whether to go with the booth that offers an 8 hour trip for $90.00 per person, the one for $250.00 per person, or the one that covers six people for $1,680.00. They all include bait, license, and tackle, but what about the experience?

As you can imagine with such variation in the pricing, each option offers a completely different deep sea fishing experience. Differences in the prices usually reflect the type of boat, the number of passengers onboard, the type of fishing that you can expect, and the overall experience that directly influences the kind of deep sea fishing trip that’s right for you.

We’ll start by sharing the details about party boats where you can expect to get a taste of Destin’s deep sea fishing waters. Next, you’ll get the scoop on how group charters work, and find out what to expect if you’re planning on joining a group charter. We’ve saved the best for last with the ultimate deep sea fishing experience where you’ll learn about all of the benefits that come with scheduling your own private charter.

To jump to the charter that you’re most interested in, click on the link below, or continue scrolling to compare the differences between each type of deep sea fishing experience.

Party Boats
Group Charters
Private Charters

Party Boats

About the Boat
Amount of People
Types of Fishing
Overall Experience

Destin Party Boats

Image Source: Swoop Party Boat

The first time that you hear the words party boat, you may envision a venue for music and dancing similar to the party room on a cruise ship. Those of you who have experienced a party boat already know that the word “party” refers to a large group of people combined together on one boat to go deep sea fishing. Another name commonly used for party boats in the deep sea fishing community is “head boats.”

There are certain characteristics of party boats that appeal to first time, and even seasoned anglers, including larger boats, a lower cost compared to other fishing charter options, and the type of fishing that party boats are known for. However, some aspects tend to turn off deep sea fishing enthusiasts, like the larger amount of people and the limitations of the types of fishing available.

Party boat reservations are operated by booking agents, often located in a booth near the boat. They usually have a set schedule for a day of the week when a particular trip length can be booked. For example, there may be an eight hour trip on Monday, a four hour on Tuesday, and a six hour on Wednesday. Depending on the length that you want and your personal availability, you will sign up for the trip that best meets your intentions.

When scheduling a party boat trip, you may be asked to hold your reservation with a credit card, which is a common requirement for most reservations anywhere today. Though cancellation policies vary, there could be anywhere from a 24 hour to 72 hour, or longer, notice requirement, at which canceling during the days and hours leading up to your trip could result in a 50% or full charge to your credit card. Always ask about the cancellation policy when booking your party boat reservation, just to be safe. Also, since party boats require a minimum head count to operate, your charter could be canceled or rescheduled due to a lack of interest in the particular trip.

 About the Boat

Of the many party boats found along the Destin Harbor, they range from lengths of 56 feet to 65 feet, and up to 90 feet long. Though the shape and build of these vessels vary to some degree, all party boats in Destin feature walk around decks surrounding interior cabins. Most party boats have two toilet rooms, or heads, and a few of them offer a snack bar where anglers can purchase chips, crackers, and drinks. Some party boats are equipped with an upper level deck, but all fishing must be done on the lower level walk around areas. Party boats are typically larger than group and private charter boats, as they are designed to carry larger groups of people for a specific type of deep sea fishing.

Amount of People

Party boats carry the most people for a deep sea fishing trip in comparison to group and private charters. The size of the party boat coincides with the amount of people that the vessel is coast guard approved to carry. Smaller party boats may have a maximum capacity of 40 people, while larger vessels can carry well over 100 people. Though it’s always a good idea to ask about the minimum head count needed for the trip to go, you can expect closer to maximum capacity during warm weather months, and closer to the minimum during the colder months.

Types of Fishing

Party boats are known for targeting bottom fishing reefs and wrecks, and usually stick around the same hand full of locations on each trip. You can expect to target snapper, grouper, and other bottom fishing species when in season. However, with a hook and line in the water, you never know what you may reel in. You can expect about half traveling time and half fishing time on most party boats. For example, if you sign up for a six hour party boat trip, you may ride out for an hour and a half to the fishing location, fish for three hours, and have an hour and a half ride back to the dock. Though there is variance in trips where you may fish one spot for 30 minutes, another spot for an hour, and so on, the routine is similar, which seems to give everyone onboard the opportunity to catch fish.


Party boats offer the lowest cost per person of all deep sea fishing experiences, because they have a large amount of passengers, and they target a specific type of fishing. The cost for a party boat fishing trip is about $10 to $15 per hour for an adult ticket. Some party boats only charge half of the adult rate for children and riders. During the off season, the rates tend to increase slightly, and trips are limited to one or two days per week. Even with the increase in ticket price for the off season, there are usually less people on the boat.

Overall Experience

The overall experience of party boat fishing is great for first timers, young children, and those who just want to take a ride into the Gulf of Mexico. There are deck hands to help with teaching techniques and untangling lines, and there is a high level of structure involved with party boat fishing. Though the excitement of a sports fishing style adventure may not be present on a party boat trip, the right person will find that party boat fishing is a great experience. Like anything else, it depends on the person.

Group Charters

About the Boat
Amount of People
Types of Fishing
Overall Experience


Image Source: Finest Kind Charter Destin, FL

Group charters are designed for individuals, or small groups of people, who desire a more private deep sea fishing experience, and are willing to split the cost of a private charter with other individuals, or small groups, who have similar trip length interests. Group charters run on the same boats as the private charters, but the process of scheduling a group charter is different than the process of scheduling a private charter.

When scheduling a group charter, your reservation is made with a booking agent who works to get enough people for the same trip length to cover the operational costs for the boat to go out. Though group charters are a great way to experience a variety of deep sea fishing opportunities with a smaller group at a lower cost than private charters, there are some things to keep in mind about the processes and policies of group charter fishing trips in Destin.

When scheduling most any fishing trip, including a group charter, you must use a credit card number to secure your commitment. Once enough people are found to cover the minimum costs of operation, you are locked into the cancellation policy (usually 24 to 72 hours in advance notice, but always ask).

It is important to note that while you may request a specific boat for your group charter, there are no guarantees that your request will be fulfilled, and you will be held responsible according to the group charter cancellation policy as set by your booking agent. For example, if the same boat is requested by a private charter, then the private charter takes precedence over a group charter, and the group charter will be moved to another vessel. Also, if the booking agents are unable to group the amount of people needed for a specific charter to go out, but they are able to get enough people for a smaller charter boat, then the trip will move to the boat capable of running with less people.

This information is not intended to discourage you from booking a group charter. Rather, the information about the processes and policies has been explained for your consideration in choosing the best deep sea fishing trip for your personal interests. If the chance of being moved from your preferred choice in boat, captain, and crew could result in a problem within your personal group, then reserving a private charter may be more appropriate for you. On the other hand, if the chance of being moved to a different boat is not a big deal, then go with the group charter.

About the Boat

Group charter boats tend to be smaller than party boats in length, ranging from about 38 feet to over 60 feet, in exception to bay fishing charter boats, which average around 20 feet long. Most group charter vessels offer a convenient back deck fishing area with an indoor cabin complete with seating, a small table or bar to prepare food, and a head, or toilet room. Some group charter vessels also have a sleeping quarters. Group charter vessels range in appearance and features. Some have air conditioned cabins and satellite televisions, while other are not climate controlled and rely only on deep sea fishing for guest entertainment.

Amount of People

The amount of people combined together on a group charter depends on the size of the boat, and the capacity that the captain is approved to carry according to coastguard regulations. The smallest group charters going into the gulf may carry 6 people, while others can go up to 15 people. There are minimums for the head count on each individual charter, and the number of people that end up on the trip is determined by the level of interest in the same amount of hours, and charter availability for that day.

Most booking agencies do go out of their way to make sure that group charters are not too crowded, and that everyone can fish comfortably. Always look for the agencies that book privately owned charter boats. When in doubt, call the captain that you prefer to go with, and ask him who to book with for a group charter.

Types of Fishing

Since group charter boats are more flexible with smaller groups than party boats, there may be an opportunity to do a combination of trolling and bottom fishing. Since a group charter combines people who may have a preference for diverse methods of deep sea fishing, the captain always makes the ultimate decision for the trip. The captain’s choice of a bottom fishing, trolling, or combination trip depends on the length of the charter, the amount of people, which fish are in season and abundant at the time, and trying to make his guests as happy as possible during the trip.

Obviously, if a customer books a group charter with the intentions of coming home with a freezer full of red snapper out of season, then there really is no pleasing them. But, within reason, all captains strive to give group charter customers the best deep sea fishing charter experience. Shorter trips (like a six hour), may be more limited to trolling for mackerel or bottom fishing for snapper, while longer trips (like a ten hour) may do a combination with chances at a larger variety of species.

Though group charters usually go up to 12 hours, there may be an opportunity for overnight group charters in the off-season to target tuna, dolphin, wahoo, and more. Because this is a rare opportunity, the overnight group charter may not be available at all times. You’re more likely to find an overnight group charter during the months of November and December from charter booths in HarborWalk Village.


Group charters are in between the cost of party boats and private charters. Since you are grouping with other individuals to cover the cost of an otherwise private charter, the cost is set at a per person rate for the trip. The average price for a group charter in Destin is between $30 and $35 per hour for each passenger. Usually, there are no discounts for children or riders, as there are limited spaces available on the charter. Prices are always subject to change depending on fuel and maintenance prices, so check with your booking agent before locking in your trip.

During the off-season (a time when Destin has fewer visitors than peak vacationing months) private captains and booking agents may team up to offer specials. At other times, if a group charter is likely to cancel because the head count is one or two people short of the minimum needed to cover operational costs, all parties will be offered the chance to split the remaining balance before the trip is canceled. As long as everyone is in agreement and the costs of operation are covered, the group charter can go with less people.

Overall Experience

The overall experience of a group charter is adventurous and exciting for anglers of all ages. Group charters appeal to individuals and small groups who don’t mind sharing their deep sea fishing experience with a few new faces. This can add to the excitement of the charter, since you never know what to expect from the other passengers on the boat.

Many group charter guests tend to walk away from the experience with life-long friendships. You’re more likely to have the opportunity for targeting a variety of fish, and there is more time for one on one help from the crew, whether baiting hooks, pulling fish onboard, teaching new techniques, or educating passengers on the ins and outs of various species. If you like meeting new people with similar interests, and an adventure into the Gulf of Mexico with deep sea fishing experts sounds exciting, the group charter may work for you.

Private Charters

About the Boat
Amount of People
Types of Fishing
Overall Experience

Private charters are just that; PRIVATE. This deep sea fishing choice offers the most control over which boat that you go out with, and who you choose to bring on the charter with you. Can someone say invitation only! Private charters are usually scheduled through the captain, and you have the opportunity to remain in direct contact to ask questions about what to expect, get recommendations on deep sea fishing conditions for the time of year that you plan to go, and learn about the length of trip needed to accomplish your intended goals while in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some particular groups are always encouraged to schedule a private charter over a group charter or party boat. These groups include large families of five, six, or more, work colleagues, wedding, bachelor, and bachelorette parties, and deep sea fishing enthusiasts who have specific intentions that may not be fulfilled on a group charter. However, you are more than welcome to reserve a private charter for one person, or couples, who want to enjoy a more intimate deep sea fishing experience.

When scheduling a private charter, a credit card is used to hold the reservation until a 50% deposit is made, typically expected at the time of booking your trip. Unlike group charters who pay individual rates for each angler through the booking agents, one person is held responsible for the private charter deposit and final payment. This means that if you are privately chartering the boat, and you have multiple guests splitting the cost with you, then you are responsible for collecting the money, and paying the captain. Planning ahead and collecting the money from your guests early is always recommended.

As already discussed in the group charter section, private charters take precedence over group charters when requesting a particular boat. The only reasons for cancellation are bad weather and mechanical problems with the boat’s engine, at which time you could reschedule or request a refund. Always listen to the advice given by your captain concerning weather conditions. If you choose to go out, despite your captain’s concerns for weather, and you decide to come back early once you see that the conditions are too rough, you could be responsible for the entire cost of the trip without the opportunity to reschedule.

If you’ve never been deep sea fishing with a particular captain and crew, take the time to do some research before scheduling the charter. Experienced captains and crew members offer the best advantages for first time deep sea fishing experiences. Search the internet for reviews, and always ask the captain about his experience in the gulf.

About the Boat

Private and group charters are offered on the same boats in the Destin Harbor. As discussed in the group charter sections, private charter boats vary in size and features. They usually fall into the range of lengths between 38 to 60 feet, in exception to bay fishing boats that average around 20 feet. Most have a back deck fishing area, where guest anglers can fish from the sides and back of the deck.

Private charter boats are designed for sports fishing with unmatched speed to get out to the hot spots faster than larger vessels, and more flexibility in maneuvering around the gulf. Most private charter boats have a cabin with seating, a toilet room, and sleeping quarters. Some are equipped with air condition, televisions, and radios, while others are do not. If you are concerned about the features of your charter boat, always inquire before scheduling your trip. You may be able to find out on the internet, or by calling the captain directly.

Wondering what features to expect on a well-maintained private charter boat? CLICK HERE

Amount of People

The number of people that join your private charter is up to you with the exception of captain and crew, and the maximum capacity of the charter boat. In correlation with the variety of charter boats in the Destin Harbor, you’ll find some boats that are coast guard approved for only six passengers plus crew, and some that are approved for over twenty passengers. Though the initial price of a group charter may begin by covering the first six, there is an additional charge for each passenger after the first six. Look under the COST section to get a break down of how private charter prices are normally determined. Overall, you can choose to have only yourself and the crew, or up to the maximum capacity of passengers with enough crew members to help maintain a great deep sea fishing trip for your group.

Types of Fishing

With a private charter, there is an endless list of the types of fishing that can be done. Though trolling, bottom fishing, and sight fishing are the most basic forms, the type of fishing that you can expect depends on your personal preference, which fish are in season, the day’s conditions, and the length of your private charter. The shorter the trip, the smaller the variety of fishing, but longer trips over 12 hours can produce big sports fishing variations.

Overnight charters are best for targeting tuna, dolphin, wahoo, marlin, or sailfish, because the overnight charter provides the time needed to get out into the deep blue water where these big game fish commonly found during certain months of the year. Always tell your captain the type of fishing that you are interested in, and he is more likely to take your preferences into account for a private charter in comparison to party boats and group charters. However, do keep in mind that listening to your captain’s recommendations for the charter offers an even better chance of catching fish than the length of the trip.


The cost of a private charter is often mistakenly labeled as the most expensive choice over other types of deep sea fishing options, because the price of the private charter is given as one figure that covers up to six people instead of a per person rate. True, a private charter could become the most expensive option for a small group of people, but worth the money for those who want the benefits of a private charter.

However, determining whether a group charter or a private charter is more or less expensive depends on the number of people in your group. Let’s do some math comparing the going rate for an 8 hour group charter at $255 per person with a private charter that charges $210 per hour for up to 6 people, and we’ll break down the point in time where a private 8 hour charter actually becomes cheaper than an 8 hour group charter.

So, we know that the 8 hour group charter rate will be $255 per person. With 6 people, the total becomes $1530. (255 x 6 = 1530). The 8 hour private charter at $210 per hour for up to 6 people is $1680. ($210 x 8 = $1680). Clearly, in this position, the group charter is $150 cheaper for a group of 6, but there is a chance that several other people can be grouped with this group of 6, which is many private charter guests would pay the difference anyway. Now let’s say that you have 8 people in your own group, and you want to know whether an 8 hour group or an 8 hour private charter would be less expensive.

A common break down for private charters that can carry more than 6 people is to add 10% of the cost of the trip per additional person after the sixth. (1680 x 10% = 168). Since the cost of the 8 hour private charter is $1680 for up to 6 people, the additional fee for the 7th person is $168, and the 8th person is $168, making the total cost for an 8 hour private charter with 8 people $2016. (1680 + 168 + 168 = 2016). The total cost per person on an 8 hour private charter with 8 people comes to $252 per person. (2016 / 8 = 252). Therefore, from the 8th person up, the price of a private charter becomes less expensive per person than a group charter.

To get an idea of prices for other private charter trip lengths, multiply the amount of hours that you intend to go by the per hour rate of $210 for the first 6 people, and then add 10% per person after the sixth person to the total.

Trip Cost Formulas

Hourly rate X Length = Total up to 6 ppl

Total for up to 6 ppl X 10% = Additional Charge for 7th Person and Up

Total for up to 6 ppl + (Additional Charge X Number of Additional ppl) = Total Cost of the Private Charter

Overall Experience

The overall experience of a Destin private charter is the cream of the crop in deep sea fishing experiences, and by far one of the most thrilling adventures that you’ll ever encounter. With your closest friends and family in tow, you have the opportunity to witness miracles that are found only in the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” In the company of a legendary captain who knows the Gulf of Mexico like the back of his hand, and crew members who spend their lives teaching others the art of deep sea fishing, a private deep sea fishing charter is a must for everyone’s bucket list. Getting out into the open water, spending quality time with those you care about, and battling with some of the most incredible creatures on the planet, it doesn’t get any better than this. Whether it’s your first time on a deep sea fishing charter, or you’ve been out in the Gulf of Mexico more times that you can count, you won’t leave a great private charter boat with disappointment. With every fishing trip, there’s a new experience, and with every new experience in the gulf, there’s another memory of the Finest Kind.



Categories: All Posts