Destin vs. Siesta Key

These destinations boast some of the US’ most beautiful coasts, you can surely have quite the challenge in deciding. From crystal clear emerald waters to quirky beach fronts, Destin and Siesta Key are the hottest places to hit in Florida’s gulf region.
Destin vs. Siesta Key

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Both are perfect for families and adventurous solo travelers, deciding between them can seem like robbing the other one. But if you really take a look at their draws, it wouldn’t be fair to choose one over the other. These places definitely showcase just how beautiful Florida is.


From humble beginnings, Destin has evolved into a tourist wonder in the reaches of the Emerald Coast. It is blessed with both beauty and abundance. You can enjoy everything here from beaches, watersports, and its famous draw, game fishing.

You’ll surely have plenty of things to do in the city and never run out of reasons to have fun. The annual one million visitors to its shores are just some of the testimonies of the city’s reputation.

What Makes Destin Unique?

The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village

Destin has all the ingredients it needs to offer its most particular attraction. And that’s on top of its obvious beauty. With its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Destin has the widest variety of fish species in the area and also the entire world. The city’s waters are a very enthusiastic angler’s haven. Destin even has one of the biggest fleets of charter fishing boats in the country with over 250 vessels strong.

Destin’s distinction comes from its unique and advantageous geographical location. If you look at nautical maps, the city has quick and easy access to the Gulf’s deepest depths. One of Destin’s best-kept fishing secrets is its near proximity to a variety of waters. This includes numerous cuts like East Pass, which connect Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf.

Only around 25 miles south (40 km) of Destin is the renowned 100-fathom curve (600 ft / 183 m), one of the city’s greatest fishing contributors. It offers the easiest access to deepwater pelagic fishing. The gently sloping continental shelf abruptly dips to offshore depths, offering various types of fish.

Fishermen can readily access all fishable water depths of the famous fathom. The area sports 20 different species of game fish that can also be dished out because various fish species live in different depths.

If you try your hand at fishing around the famed waters of Destin, you’ll surely catch quite a wide array of fish species. One of the most frequently found species is the snapper fish, which includes the red snapper, gray snapper, lane snapper, and mutton snapper. For its size and aesthetics, the red snapper is often a famous catch.

Another species that is frequently caught is the grouper fish. Similar to snapper, there are several different varieties of grouper. This includes the black grouper, gag grouper, and red grouper. The dolphinfish, also known as mahi-mahi, is a fish that commonly hangs out close to the surface of the water, making it another favorite catch.

The Beaches

The Gulf of Mexico beachfront is undoubtedly Destin’s main draw. From the shores of Mexico itself to the Emerald Coasts of Florida, the gulf is well-endowed in different ways. The emerald-green waters give this shore its unofficial marketing tag. Thanks to its brilliant white-sugar sands, this coastline is quite an interesting attraction.

Whether you want to unwind, swim, or have a blast with boats and watersports, it practically offers everything for every beach bum.

The contrast between the beaches’ sparkling white sands and emerald-green waters is one of Destin’s most defining features. Its natural beauty has quite a scientific explanation, which is as interesting as it appears to be. Most people are unaware that algae are to blame for the particular hue of the water.

The nearshore seafloor has a white-sand bottom, and the water is extremely transparent. This combination intensifies the emerald hue the coast is known for. It typically varies in tone and strength from algae concentrations and sunlight.

Destin offers more than just one long line of beaches, despite being its biggest and most well-known draw. It also boasts quite a heap of other marvels as well. You can check out other famous spots such as John Beasley Beach Park, the Okaloosa Island Pier, and Jetty Beach. Also the Eglin Beach Park, and Henderson Beach State Park.

Other noteworthy locations that you can visit are Destin Beach, Crystal Sands, and Grayton Beach State Park. But if you’re looking for a bit of twist and pizzazz, the submerged Crab Island sandbar is a popular entry. It lies close to the mouth of Choctawhatchee Bay, it is big on swimming and other water activities.

Crab Island

No, this isn’t an island full of crabs, unlike what the name may suggest. Crab Island is an expansive sandbar only accessible by boat. But with the Emerald Coast’s beauty, the journey is unquestionably worthwhile. The water is tranquil and shallow, perfect if you’re with children or just want to unwind and enjoy yourself.

This massive sandbar is home to thousands of boats each year, thanks to its perfect conditions for boating. It is undoubtedly a boater’s paradise. At this well-known Destin icon, visitors arrive in anything from single-rider kayaks to 65-foot (20 m) yachts.

Along the four acres (1.6 ha) of the sandbar, you’ll find quirky floating food spots and even bars. You can just swim up to them and grab your necessities. However, certain restaurants and bars on the water are only open from March to October. You might want to rethink what month you’ll visit.

Across the surrounding waters, you can snorkel, play some water volleyball, or just unwind on a raft and soak up the sun. One of the best things to do in Destin during the summer is to charter a boat and be your own captain to Crab Island. Try kayaking there if you want to get in good exercise.


Destin is definitely one of those destinations where it has everything. It’s impossible to avoid thinking of watersports. The gorgeous waters offer jet skis, pontoons, and stand-up paddle boards.

However, Destin distinguishes itself as an excellent place for watersports. While you can easily have these activities anywhere else, the presence of sheltered inshore seas makes it even more special.

Pontoon Boats

The greatest way to discover the breathtaking seas surrounding Destin is to rent a boat for the day. Visit Destin Harbor, and Crab Island, or cruise around Choctawhatchee Bay. This is a perfect setting for family and friends.

A 24-foot (7.3 m) ocean pontoon is easy to manage and can hold up to 12 passengers. Most pontoons also come with Bluetooth stereos and cabanas to protect you from the harsh sun.

Jet Skis

Jet Skis are a great option for adrenaline-loving beach bums, couples, and families with adventurous kids. You may easily slice through the waters as you visit the inlets and jetties of the Bay, or even beyond.

Paddle Boarding & Kayaking

One of the latest crazes in water activities is the stand-up paddleboard, or SUP. It is also one of the most famous activities across the coasts of Florida. These boards are like a combination of a kayak and a surfboard. Imagine standing on a board paddling your way across the beauty of Destin’s waters.

Kayaks are a great way to get some fitness while having fun and savoring the beautiful waters of Destin. Take in the beauty as you move across the harbor under the Florida sun. Some kayak routes take you past yachts and million-dollar waterfront houses. You can even see visitors strolling down beside the coast. And maybe, if you come during the right season you may even paddle right beside wild marine life.

Destin Harbor Boardwalk and HarborWalk Village

The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is one of the most popular places to hit on Destine. Well for one, it is free. It is a great place to spend a few hours if you’re on a limited budget. The boardwalk that circles the bay is even better in the evening, especially as the sun sets. It is an ideal spot for tourists looking to capture a breathtaking view.

The neighborhood is home to a large number of shops and restaurants, many of which offer fantastic food and drink specials. Plus, it even offers stunning waterfront views.

Many people choose to visit the Destin Harbor Boardwalk in the evening. But arriving early in the day presents better photo opportunities if you love breathtaking sights. It is perfect just before the waves of evening crowds come.

Along the harbor front, the area extends for roughly a quarter of a mile. It’s a terrific place to get moving and start your day off right while taking in the fresh Gulf of Mexico seaside air.

Thanks to Destin Harbor’s location, it offers ridiculously gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico, the bay, the pass, and the harbor. You see everything you need to see just right at the HarborWalk Village. Found in the middle of Destin Harbor, it is a recent additional attraction in the area.

It has a wide variety of restaurants, boutique shops, gift shops, and fun things for the whole family to do. Many of Destin’s top watersports companies can be found in HarborWalk Village. This includes parasailing, dolphin cruises, and jet ski rentals.

Siesta Key

Siesta Key isn’t just your quiet barrier island off the coast of a famous city. Siesta Key is perhaps one of Florida’s cream of the crop when it comes to beaches. Sporting eight miles (13 km) of wonder and beauty, Siesta Key is home to the country’s consistently awarded beaches.

It is best for curious vacationing families and solo travelers. the barrier island offers just everything you could ever want. On top of its ridiculous natural beauty, Siesta Key is packed with activities both perfect on land and water. And if you want a taste of the city, just cross the bridge to the neighboring fabulous Sarasota.

What Makes Siesta Key Unique?

The Three Beaches

The beaches on Siesta Key are breathtaking, thanks to its trademark expanses of snow-white sand that look like powdered sugar. With sheer beauty and great expanse, it even has three distinct beaches. Each of these beaches is distinctive and stunning, providing a diverse set of experiences and flavors.

Siesta Beach

Being frequently ranked as the best beach in the nation, Siesta Key Beach lives up to its reputation. Perhaps one of its best testimony is the 5th ranking in Tripadvisor’s best beaches in the world list. One of Florida’s best beaches, it is renowned for its pristine white sand and stunningly clear water. It is also the island’s main beach.

The lovely beach is quite plush, relaxing, and inviting. Expect to have breathtaking views of the crystal clear water and the mild ocean breaks. With the constant Florida sun, it is also the perfect spot to sunbathe and just people watch. Siesta Beach is exactly like how it’s named, it gives you reasons to rest.

But the beach offers more than just a simple place to relax. There are numerous watersports and activities that you can partake in.

The fantastic breeze makes Siesta Key the ideal spot for parasailing. Offshore, the wind even gets stronger. Even better, try your hand at jet-skiing, embark on a lengthy fishing trip, or go parasailing to take in a breathtaking view.

Crescent Beach

Crescent Beach is a perfect alternative if you don’t like the throngs of crowds along with the fame of Siesta Beach. It can be a bit different due to its proximity to condos, hotels, and resorts, offering a rather quieter and less crowded scene. If true peace is what you’re seeking, this is the spot to hit.

Turtle Beach

Located at the southern tip of the key, Turtle Beach is a huge step away from either Crescent or Siesta Beach. With golden sand with fossilized shark teeth on one side and Blind Pass Lagoon on the other, this beach is one of Siesta Key’s prettiest.

Turtle Beach distinguishes itself from the other Siesta Key beaches with its darker tint of sand. The whole stretch can feel like you’re not in the key anymore. The beach’s quirky tiny coves even add to its uniqueness.

It’s a beautiful beach for swimming and relaxing, but getting there on foot can be challenging. It is known to have an extremely steep slope that descends to the water, which can be tricky if you’re not careful.

Due to the wide variety of activities, you will have plenty of things to do here. The tranquil half-mile of the beach is perfect for a day of reading under an umbrella and swimming in crystal clear water. A picnic spot and a boat launch for kayaks and small boats might be found.

Known for having quite a concentration of shells, Turtle Beach is a great place to hunt for shells while strolling. You might even find shark teeth around.

Water Activities

With gentle seas and constant sun, Siesta Key offers a wide range of watersports. You can easily try quite a variety of them, from parasailing to kiteboarding. Siesta Beach’s beauty can be appreciated in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most popular things to do:


Kiteboarding is one of the most well-known hobbies in Siesta Key.  The strong winds and consistent sunshine allow for perfect conditions. There are several locations and people you can run across who can teach you the sport or help you rent equipment. There is also a sizable kiteboarding community in this area, you may even meet a pro or two around.


You don’t have to do heaps of extreme or wild water activities to enjoy the waters of Siesta Key. You can still explore the outdoors and the nature around you. One of the most popular water activities around Siesta Key is kayaking.

You can kayak through mangroves, other surrounding islands and keys, and beaches, including Turtle Beach. You may rent kayaks and other equipment at multiple locations near the numerous beaches.


You can count on Siesta Beach to have a wide variety of extreme sports readily available for seasoned and curious beginners. The key boasts regular winds and is a heavily visited city. One of the many fun and intriguing activities you can do to explore the area is parasailing.

Parasailing tours are ideal for families and friends. Most tours can even cater to groups of 12.

Siesta Village

Just five minutes north of Siesta Beach is the bustling Siesta Village, one of Siesta Key’s most famous spots. It houses the key’s top dining scene, shopping strip, and many locally-owned businesses. The village is best defined by its slew of quirky hamlet houses. Their unique charm is perhaps one of Siesta Key’s most well-known attractions.

Siesta Key Village is the best alternative if you want to steer clear of the beaches for a while. It’s fun to stroll about the town, especially with all its many features. There are numerous renowned galleries, boutique stores, and local markets that can surely cater to your liking. The majority of them provide excellent amusement.

On top of its daytime delights, Siesta Village is a whole nother marvel after the sun goes down. It is home to the key’s best nightlife spots. You can have quite a mix of locals and tourists creating a vibrant atmosphere. Visit Daiquiri Deck for outdoor beverages and live music.

Siesta Key Drum Circle

On top of its obvious beauty and the excitement it offers, Siesta Key features a vibrant local culture. One of the most popular sights on the island is the Siesta Key Drum Circle. If you’re on Siesta Key’s beaches on a Sunday night, make sure to catch the drummers’ performance at sunset. This particular draw is one born out of the eclectic mix of different cultures that found a home in the bays of Sarasota.

A celebration of music and unity is held as a result of the surviving local tradition. This brings together dancers, artists, and families from all over the island. 52 times a year, a large gathering of people gathers on the beach to enjoy this amusing activity. The pounding begins and is immediately followed by a siren and the pitter-patter of instruments.

The neighborhood sings together as music fills the air, bringing the young and elderly together. The opportunity to participate is given to every partygoer as they are handed a variety of instruments.

The Neighboring City of Sarasota

It is a charming and exciting city that you really must see while on vacation there, and it is situated approximately 25 minutes north of Siesta Key. You can’t get to Siesta Key without passing through quirky Sarasota. It is practically the gateway to the bay and all the other keys in the area.

Perfect for a day trip in the city, you can easily get to Sarasota from Siesta. If you want to take a break from the wind and surf, you can cross a bridge.  While you’re in the city, you can do a lot of interesting things — lovely gardens, enjoy hopping nightlife, and odd museums, you can have everything in Sarasota.

Nearby attractions include lush botanical gardens, golf courses, and quirky collections on display. There are a lot of wonderful museums to visit as well, with The Ringling being the best. Visit the famous estate of the esteemed family that houses an entire complex of museums and a mansion.

One of the most visited points in the estate is the Ringling Museum of Art. Since its establishment in 1927, the impressive gallery has amassed more than 10,000 works of art. It includes artwork from numerous historical eras, including sculptures, images, and more.

Apart from the many activities and places to explore in the city, it offers a great outdoor experience as well. Head to Myakka River State Park, the biggest and oldest state park in Florida. This place is great for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Taking an airboat trip is a common pastime there.

Which Is Better – Siesta Key or Destin?

If you’re looking for a more jam-packed destination among two of the most beautiful coastal wonders of Florida, Siesta Key is your best bet. It practically has everything that Destin can offer and more. Well, except for the blessed fishing scene. But Siesta Key’s draws pretty much can top most of the beaches in Florida’s gulf region.


Siesta Key Beach vs. Destin Beach

Both Siesta Key Beach and Destin Beach are some of the most beautiful beaches in the US. But when it comes to added charms on top of beauty, Siesta Key Beach is the better option. From the fascinating Siesta Key Drum Circle to its neighboring wonders you can easily love Siesta Key Beach.

Is the Water Clearer in Destin or Siesta Key?

With filtered waters coming out of Choctawhatchee Bay, Destin boasts some of the clearest waters in Florida. The beach’s clear water also has a more distinctive tint than most of the Gulf area. Destin is known for its characteristic emerald water, making it extra appealing than many other beaches in the state.

How Far Is Siesta Key From Destin?

Siesta Key is approximately 320 miles or 515 km from Destin, directly. But if you decide to take the highway, the driving distance is around 490 miles or 789 km. The trip would take around seven to eight hours.

Destin to Siesta Key

You can get to Siesta Key from Destin in three common modes of transport; by plane, bus, or driving. Taking a flight between cities is the most common and cost-effective way. But if you decide to take a bus, expect to have some transfers in between, and might take longer. Driving a rental or your car is cheaper, however, it isn’t the most time-effective.