Henderson Beach State Park
Address: 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL
Activities: Swimming, picnicking, walking, biking, fishing, wildlife viewing, geo-caching, camping
Facilities: Restroom, picnic pavilion, showerheads, playground, camping, handicap accessible Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset
Fees: $6 per vehicle; $4 for single passenger. $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, and extra passengers in cars over 8 people.
More information: floridastateparks.org/park/Henderson-Beach
Directions: Travelling east on US-98, Henderson State Park will be on your right.
Henderson Park, purchased by the Florida State Park system in 1983 and opened in 1991, encompasses 208 acres, includes 6000 feet of beach front, and offers visitors a beautiful nature trail, restrooms, covered pavilions, and a children’s playground.
The beach is made up of the iconic sugar sand beaches of Okaloosa County, home to nesting birds as well as visitors. The dunes are roped off and set up with wooden decoys of Black Skimmers and Least Terns, enticing these Florida listed species to raise their chicks here. The dunes themselves are vegetated with lovely Sea Oats and wildflowers, while the water is warm and emerald green, perfect for swimming, wading, or fishing (though note the restricted areas). Anglers can hope to catch Red Fish, Flounder, Catfish, Cobia, Whiting, and Pompano.
The nature trail truly sets Henderson Park apart from many other areas in the county. Coastal dune ecosystems are both ancient and rare, and a ¾ of a mile trail weaves through Sand Pine, Sand Live Oak, Saw Palmettos, cacti, and wildflowers. Birds flock to this natural setting during migration, and almost 100 species have been recorded. Interpretive signs throughout the nature trail provide information on native species and wildlife.
Biking is also an option at the park. The camp road is almost a mile long, and can be great fun for those just learning to pedal. A long boardwalk provides another way to enjoy the scenery, high above the dunes.
For those who wish to spend more than just the day at Henderson, camping is available in 60 spaces. Reserve them early, for they fill up fast in the summertime!
To read more, check out our blog post: Henderson Beach State Park