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A Few Pointers to Make Your Visit Shine

The sugar-white sand and emerald waters of our area beaches provide a beautiful backdrop for relaxing or embarking on your next outdoor adventure. But first, consider these helpful tips before setting out for a day at the beach. 

Family Recommendations

To have the best possible beach vacation, make sure to follow our beach trip best practices:

  • Stay hydrated – pack enough water to last throughout the day
  • Set up umbrellas, wear hats and use other heat-shielding items to keep cool
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a recommended SPF 15 or higher to protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays
  • Allow the sunscreen to soak in before getting in the water or sun
  • Always reapply sunscreen the longer you remain outdoors
  • Look for a nearby lifeguard station and heed the surf warning flags
  • Keep your belongings close 
  • Swim safely – lookout for motorized vessels, surfers, and kayakers
  • Dispose of trash and recyclable items properly
  • Leave only your footprints behind

Florida’s Flag System

Tourists and locals alike should always heed the warnings of our flag system as surf conditions are notorious for being deceiving. There are four distinctively colored flags accompanied by interpretive signs to explain the meaning of each color. The appropriate flag is flown in accordance with that day’s current surf conditions and is clearly visible on the beaches.

Call 850-932-SURF for the latest surf advisory at Pensacola Beach and in the protected areas of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.


Green: Low Hazard

Low Hazard: Calm conditions, swim with usual caution.

Yellow: Medium Hazard

Medium Hazard: Moderate surf, and/or currents, swim with extra caution.

Single Red: High Hazard

Single Red
High Hazard: High surf and/or strong currents, 

Double Red: Water Closed to Public

Double Red
Water Closed to Public. Double red flags are only used during natural disasters.

Purple: Dangerous Marine Life

Dangerous Marine Life in the water. Exercise caution.

No Flag

No lifeguard on duty. Surf condition advisory not available.

In the event of an emergency and no lifeguard is present, call 911 immediately. It is always safest to swim when there is a lifeguard on duty; be sure to look for the lifeguard stations before setting up towels and umbrellas.

Rip Currents

Rip currents are narrow channels of water flowing out past the surf zone that can pull even strong swimmers into deep water beyond the offshore sand bar.

If caught in a rip current, do not panic. Try to escape a rip current by moving sideways across it, parallel to the shore. If the current is too strong, let it carry you further away from shore, and it will weaken. Then, swim back to shore at an angle away from the rip current.