Situated in the Florida Panhandle, the Pensacola Bay area is known for its gorgeous beaches, award-winning tours and exotic wildlife. In fact, Gulf Islands National Seashore earned the title of best Florida beach in the No. 1 spot in USA Today's "10Best Readers' Choice" awards, chosen by voters of USA Today and 10Best. Anybody who has visited its beaches knows why it earned such high rankings. But there’s more to the Pensacola Bay Area than its beaches. Here are eight things you must do on a trip to the Pensacola Bay Area.

1. Get out the paddles.

The best way to enjoy Pensacola Bay’s natural attractions is to explore it by water—specifically by kayak or canoe. Visitors can rent canoes or kayaks to explore beautiful areas like Big Lagoon State Park, Fort Pickens, Johnson Beach, Perdido River or Blackwater River State Park. These areas take you through secluded forests and beaches. Paddlers can see a variety of birds and fish as they paddle through the various landscapes of beaches, wetlands and saltwater marshes.

kayak and fishing

2. Meet a dolphin.

Take an excursion to see dolphins and other wildlife in Pensacola Bay. Multiple boat charters like Chase-N-Fins offer one- and two-hour tours that take you to an area known for dolphin viewing.

3. Take a ride above the water.

The first thing to know about parasailing is that you’ll get much higher than you can even imagine. The other thing to know is it’s eerily quiet (but really relaxing, actually) when being pulled behind a boat high in the air by a giant parachute. It’s easy to go parasailing in the Pensacola Bay Area: rental spots like Bonifay Water Sports and Key Sailing can give you personal training before pulling you across the bay for a bird’s-eye view of the city and the beach.

4. Hit the links.

Pensacola is home to numerous world-class golf courses. Lost Key Golf Club is an Arnold Palmer signature designed course with premier grass called Sea Dwarf Paspalum. The course takes pride in being one of the few golf courses that is naturally resourced and protective of the environment. Marcus Pointe Golf Club is another great course with an award-winning 600 acres of rolling hills and fairways.


5. Pull out the tents—or campers.

Why camp in a forest when you can do it at the beach? Whether you’re traveling by RV or bringing tents, the Pensacola Bay Area is ideal for camping by the beach. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy beautiful natural settings in Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach. The campgrounds can accommodate both tent and RV camping.

6. Go fishing.

Bring your boat or take a charter boat to join in on some of the best fishing spots in the country. Charter boats like A Reel Eazy supply fishing poles and bait, making a fishing expedition incredibly easy—though catching something isn’t guaranteed. Some tours will cook or grill your fish on the boat just minutes after your catch.


7. Explore by GPS.

The beaches of the Pensacola Bay Area have been an oasis for explorers since 1559. Visit Pensacola offers a unique Geocaching Tour, providing you with coordinates instead of a compass. The four designated trails for geocaching provide explorers an educational tour on the history, culture and wildlife of Florida’s panhandle.

8. Obviously, go to the beach.

The most obvious thing to do in Pensacola Bay Area is to hit the beach. Florida’s Panhandle is known for its pearly white sands and warm crystal-clear waters, making it a paradise for beach-goers. When not swimming or sunbathing, take a walk along the coast and collect seashells as souvenirs.