Charter Fishing Destin Blog
If you’re in the process of hunting deep sea fishing charter rates, you’ve probably noticed the wide range in hourly pricing across the board. So, why not take the charter with the lowest cost? After all, each charter boat offers the same basic experience, right? Unfortunately, not all fishing charters were created equally. Here, we will discuss major considerations that reflect both the cost and the type of experience you can expect to encounter for the price that you pay to go deep sea fishing.
What is a deep sea fishing charter?
First, let’s define a deep sea fishing charter in its most basic form. Of course, there’s a great deal of saltwater fishing that goes on during a charter, but let’s face it. If it’s just about the fish, why charter a boat when you could fish off of a pier? A deep sea fishing charter is so much more than catching fish.
The ingredients that make up a deep sea fishing charter include a charter boat, a captain, and a first mate, or deckhand. The quality of these three ingredients determines both the price that you pay, and the experience that you’ll likely have during your deep sea fishing trip. Asking the right questions about the boat, the captain, and the deckhand can help you to determine which charter offers the best possible experience for your family or group.
- What do the pictures say about the charter boat?
- Is a newer charter boat better than a seasoned one?
- Does the captain own the charter boat?
- How much experience does the captain have in local waters?
- What should you know about the deckhand?
The Charter Boat
A Picture is Worth 1000 Words
Have you ever booked a room at what you thought was a fancy resort, only to find out that you booked your nonrefundable reservation at an overpriced motel? Not a fun time. Well, the same precaution should be considered when reserving a charter. The great thing about charter boats is that you can usually find a number of pictures and videos on the internet showing the interior and exterior features of any well-known charter.
The quality of a charter boat can be evaluated by its initial appearance. Though a charter boat that lacks proper housekeeping skills may be significantly cheaper per hour than their competitors, the cleaning habits of a charter boat’s crew can reveal an array of problems with the boat’s mechanics. If the first thing that you see on the back deck is dried fish blood, filled trash cans, and salt water residue on the windows and chrome, chances are that you’ll find a cluttered and messy cabin, along with a dirty head, or toilet room. These are some of the factors that contribute to sea sickness, so you want to make sure that you aren’t reserving a charter with these types of reviews.
A charter boat that invests the time and money in keeping a clean appearance is more likely to invest the same effort in keeping all mechanical parts working promptly. We’ve heard stories of customers going out on charters that advertised an air conditioned cabin, only to find out that the air conditioner was broken during the fishing trip. When we’re talking about a $20 per hour difference in deep sea fishing rates, a working air conditioner is worth the expense.
A charter boat that leaves much to be desired upon initial appearance is also more likely to have mechanical issues in the engine room. Now keep in mind that even the best charters will eventually have some mechanical issue that need to be addressed. The difference is whether the problem is corrected promptly, or whether the issues are prolonged to keep the charter boat running, despite the comfort of charter fishing customers.
In this respect, a charter boat that costs more per hour is more likely to invest the time and money needed to ensure top quality maintenance and upkeep. The charter boats that raise the bar on maintaining a clean exterior and interior tend to take the time for routine engine and mechanical maintenance, all of which makes a better charter experience for deep sea fishing customers.
New vs Experienced Charter Boats
Forget everything that you know about the American way for just a moment. In perhaps one of the only situations of our consumer market, newer is not always better when selecting a charter fishing boat. Just as you would want a seasoned captain who knows the waters you are fishing, you want your charter boat that has plenty of running time to and from the deep blue.
As captains make choices for improvements and enhancements of their charter boats, they gage their needs based on customer experiences while onboard. A brand new charter boat’s best feature is newness, where a seasoned charter boat’s owner will invest in top of the line fishing equipment and more comfortable accommodations for the customer.
Do you remember the first day that you purchased a smart phone? Even with all of the excitement that came with having the technology of a cell phone and a computer all in one little device that could fit in your pocket, it still took some time to learn how to navigate between calling a friend and searching the internet. Over the years, social media, shopping, and business apps have been added to our smart phones. With each upgrade, we all spend some time getting familiar with the new abilities of our smart phones. Well, captains require the same learning period with new deep sea fishing technology. New equipment is always great, but only if your captain is versed in using the new equipment. As you can imagine, a captain with more frequent trips will be better at navigating his new fishing equipment, and therefore the top of the line equipment aboard a seasoned captain’s boat is more likely to be reflected in the hourly rate.
In the same way that captains require experience with new fishing equipment, plenty of experience with a variety of customers will enhance the captain’s ability to better provide the customer comforts that fit an array of personality types. Depending on the kind of charter you’ve booked, whether a family trip, corporate charter, overnight, etc., you’ll want a captain who knows what your group needs to remain comfortable on the charter before you do. A captain who allows customizable charters for each group is more likely to have accommodations onboard that will keep your group content during your deep sea fishing trip. This wisdom can only come from a captain with a great deal of experience running a variety of customized charters on his boat. As upgrades are added to a charter boat that will enhance the level of customer comforts, you can expect the hourly rate to reflect those accommodations.
Ah, yes! The man driving the boat will play one of the biggest roles in both the cost of the charter, as well as the kind of experience that you’ll encounter during your deep sea fishing trip. Depending on his investment in the charter boat, you can expect a captain with a long-standing reputation within the area to have a higher rate per hour than his competitors.
Does the captain wear two hats?
One question that you should always ask is whether or not the captain is the owner of the charter boat. The answer could make a huge difference in your overall saltwater fishing experience. See, a captain who owns the charter will be more invested in all the working parts of your charter experience. He is there from the start of your adventure, to the end, and witnesses your personal satisfaction with the boat’s amenities, the deckhand’s willingness to go above and beyond your expectations, and your experience. In short, a captain who owns the charter boat works diligently to ensure that his customers are satisfied with the best deep sea fishing experience possible. After all, his livelihood depends on repeat customers who are impressed with his ability to run a top of the line charter boat, and hire the best crew.
In contrast, a charter boat captain who is working as a private contractor for a boat owner tends to be less invested in the charter customer’s relationship with the boat. He may be on one boat this year, and then another next year. That is not to say that you’ll always encounter an unprofessional captain when he doesn’t share the title of boat owner. There are some great captains who run boats without owning them. However, a private contractor captain has less final say about your trip than the captain who owns the boat.
We’ve heard stories about charter trips that involve the owner’s input of adding more people to a private charter or overbooking due to a lack of communication between the owner and the captain. It’s best to have one boss running the boat. When the captain and the owner are one in the same, the blame for something going wrong isn’t shared, and there tends to be a smoother running operation than when multiple people share the responsibility of setting up custom charters.
Is the captain seasoned in these waters?
When you make your agreement with the captain of a charter boat, you are paying for a guided fishing excursion into a body of water that the captain knows how to navigate through his firsthand experience. The more experience the captain has on the local waters, the more likely he is to know where the best fishing spots are. As with any other professional occupation, you can expect a captain who is more experienced to have a slightly higher hourly rate in comparison to other novice captains who are struggling to find those honey hole fishing locations in the gulf.
Remember to ask about experience with the specific area that you will be fishing. A captain with 30 years of experience fishing off the coast of California would still be considered a novice in the Gulf of Mexico. You see, each captain has their own secret spots in addition to public reefs. It takes many years to learn the waters well enough to know where the fish will be under a variety of conditions like the time of year, temperature, weather, fishing season, etc. These conditions change daily, and only a captain who has fished the area for years will know what to expect on any given day of fishing. Though the seasoned captain is more likely to charge a little more for his services, you can rest assured that his experience in the deep waters is worth every penny.
In addition to the captain, you are also paying for the services of the first mate, or deckhand. The deckhand plays an important role in your deep sea fishing experience. He is there to teach you the basic skills and techniques of saltwater fishing, all while keeping your group entertained during your charter. Since the deckhand works for tips, you should see a great deal of customer service in his role as he attempts to keep guests comfortable and engaged during the trip.
How to Determine the Quality of a Deckhand
As we’ve already mentioned, the captain who owns the boat is more likely to have an excellent deckhand working alongside him. As the captain witnesses the deckhand’s interactions with deep sea fishing guests, the captain can determine whether or not the deckhand is a good fit for the reputation of the charter boat. A boat that has gone through several deckhands does not necessarily mean that there is a problem with the operation. This just shows that the captain will not tolerate a deckhand who is not committed to working well with deep sea fishing parties. It can take several years to find the right deckhand. They seem to always be auditioning for the part. A captain who is not afraid to let go of a deckhand who has become too comfortable in his job is more likely to never settle until he finds the best of the best.
Fortunately, pictures found on the internet of fishing experiences from past trips on a given charter boat can often tell the story of how the deckhand interacts with charter customers. In addition, you can get the feel of what the owner/captain expects out of his deckhand. For example, if action shots taken on the boat during the charter show the deckhand working to help customers with their fishing experience, including support during reeling, gaffing, cutting bait, and helping families get a photo of children who may be scared to touch the fish, etc., then you know that the captain expects a top of the line service out of the deckhand for his clients. Check out this video to see what to expect out of a great deckhand during your charter.
In contrast, if you often see the deckhand jumping in the group photo at the end of the trip with a beer in his hand, then you may want to reconsider your options. Unfortunately, there are some captains who have hired on friends to work as their deckhands. This is not to say that friends can’t work well together. What we are saying is that there tends to be a level of comfort in the deckhand where he will eventually do the bare minimum during a charter without the fear of being fired.
Not too long ago, we heard a story about a deckhand who forgot about his upcoming trip, stayed out all night partying the night before, slept on the boat, and was too hung over during the trip to work. When he wasn’t sleeping during the charter, he was complaining about how hung over he was. Because the captain and deckhand were friends, the captain allowed this behavior in front of his clients. Needless to say, the trip turned into a bad experience for this group, and charters are nonrefundable. Take our advice. A little time investigating pictures from prior fishing trips is always a great way to determine the quality of a deckhand, which is also often reflected in the price of the charter.
The Take Away
So, are we saying that the charter boat with the highest rate per hour is always the best? No. Are we saying that the charter boat with the lowest rate per hour is always the worst? Again, no. What we are saying is that given the experience of past private charter fishing customers, the cost of a deep sea fishing charter is often reflected in the quality of the three major working parts of any give charter. A little internet research goes a long way in determining which charter is the best option for your group. Depending on the fishing rate per hour on a private charter, you can expect a higher or lower reputation in the quality of the charter boat, the captain, and the deckhand.
The hourly rate for private charters in Destin, Florida can range anywhere from $195 to $240 per hour. Our recommendation is to first research the quality of the charter boat, the captain, and the deckhand before choosing the charter company that works best for you. Though the cost of a private charter may fluctuate throughout the years and fishing seasons, these are pretty standard as of the year 2017. Finding a great charter company is essential in securing the best charter fishing experience possible. Once you’ve considered the hourly rates and compared a few options, we feel that you will come to the conclusion that a top quality fishing charter in Destin will run you about $225 per hour for the first six people, plus 10% of the total per person after the first six. See the breakdown of hourly rates for deep sea fishing charters HERE.
Now that you know what to look for during your comparison of fishing charter rates in association with the three major working parts, including the charter boat, captain, and deckhand, it’s time to start planning the greatest deep sea fishing charter of your life.
If you’d like our recommendation on the perfect charter, we’ve got you covered. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Finest Kind.
Once you’ve done your research on the working parts, BOOK YOUR CHARTER HERE.
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
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.
The 69th 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 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 pm – 6:00 pm and Friday, October 6th – 11:00 am –1:00 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
Appearance: 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.
Video Source: Nuclieyeone YouTube
Bull Dolphin (Mahi-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.
Video Source: StokedOnFishing YouTube
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.
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.
Video Source: gulfhake1 YouTube
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.
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
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.
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.
Video Source: Brady Lybarger YouTube
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.
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.
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!
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.
Memories 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.
Which 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
- Saturday May 13th: Mother’s Day Victorian Tea at Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida at 2 pm. For reservations call 850-678-2615.
- Sunday May 14th: Brunch at the Emerald Grande’s Harbor View Room from 10 am – 2 pm. For reservations call 850-424-0622.
- Sunday May 14th: Mother’s Day lunch cruise aboard SunQuest Cruises Solaris from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. For reservations call 850-650-2519.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Destin, 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.
- Book 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Top 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 true 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.
3.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 Book – Upon 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.
- 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.
With 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
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!
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!
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
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
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
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!
Annual 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 RMagee@HarborWalkVillage.com! 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.
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
Friday 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 RMagee@HarborWalkVillage.com to for an official application. Anglers and Paradise Dwellers are encouraged to attend!
Tuesday, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
PLAN YOUR DESTIN MARDI GRAS VACATION IN PARADISE TODAY!
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 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!
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
START PLANNING YOUR 2017 VALENTINE’S GETAWAY IN DESTIN, FL
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!
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
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.
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.
Baked Fish Fillet Recipe
Grilled Red Snapper
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
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)
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
- 4 (7-ounce) triggerfish filets
- Olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 portion sautéed escarole
- 2 portion roasted red sweet pepper
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbs. basil chopped
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
- 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.
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 VisitFlorida.com
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
- 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
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
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
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
Recipe contributed by Paula Dean and Food Network.com
- 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
Recipe contributed by Trisha Yearwood and Food Network.com
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.