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I live and fish near Houston TX. My family is trying to plan a summer vacation and my son and I want to fish as much as possible while the wife & daughter lay on the beach/pool.

We are considering the Fort Walton/Destin area, but have never been before...

My son is 18 and we have a pair of kayaks we'd like to bring along. We plan to book a guide one day for amberjack & kings, but want to fish from the beach and from the yaks as much as possible too!

1) Any good condos with a pool and beach view/access? Recommendations?

2) Local restaurants for dinner (not the touristy stuff)?

3) We like to fish artificials mostly, but when the croaker bite is strong, we cant resist. Do ya'll have bait shops that sell croaker? How much?

4) Are there some good places to launch and fish out of kayaks?

5) Any must do's while we are there?

6) Is there an area we can snorkel without paying a guide service?

Thanks for your help!!!
 

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1) There are literally hundreds of condos and houses directly on the beach from Pensacola to Destin. All are "nice" but the nicer they are the more you will spend.

2) In Destin hit up Mcguires (touristy but great atmosphere, good food and not too pricey) as well as Boshamps (literally the only seafood joint Id recommend in Destin), in Fort Walton Sealand is Fantastic, Scooters in Navarre is good for cheap local seafood (youd be surprised at how few seafood joints actually sell local seafood) and Peg Leg Petes in Pensacola.

3) It would be rare if not impossible to find live croakers in baitshops around here.

4) Any Public Beach access point. If your condo will let you keep your yaks chained up on the beach just go off there if its calm! For bay/sound access there are plenty of public parks and boat ramps (do not clog up a ramp though!).

5) Fish of course! But if its rainy and if its your thing, the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is fantastic and free!

6) There is a great snorkel reef off of Navarre Beach just passed the sandbar. Also the east jetty in destin pass is a great spot to snorkel at high tide. To access it there is public parking on Norriego point (spelling?). Drive to the very end of Gulf Shores drive. You will have to get there early as there are very few parking spots. Walk to the beach and turn left (south) and snorkel the finger jetty. That is where all of the snorkel boats go and you just did it for free!

If you want to book a charter on a boat feel free to give me a call, 850-810-2548 or check out my website www.bitebackfishingcharters.com !

If youre looking for a kayak guide we have several great ones. Matthew Vann with Sails and Tails Kayak Charters, Brandon Barton with Emerald Waters Kayak Charters and Nick Lytle with Navarre Kayak Fishing.
 

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my oldest daughter and her family go to Destin every year. we went with them 2 yrs ago. never again. we waited in line at least 2 hrs in every restaurant we went to and the traffic is a nightmare. i took my boat and we fished the bay and offshore. the bay was dead, but we did pick up some assorted fish on some rock piles about 4 mi out. the best part of the trip for me was going scallop diving in Pt St Joe. we had a ball and brought a mess of scallops back to the house in Destin to cook up. they're going again in June this year, but will be staying in a house on Rosemary Beach. i'm not going. just not my thing. tried to talk em into staying in Pt St Joe, but no deal.
 

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You might consider Pensacola. Less touristy but the fishing is fine. My goto is VRBO.com for vacation condo rentals direct from the owners.
 

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Pensacola gets a little touristy at the beach as well, but definitely less so than Destin. Destin is the tourism hot spot for a large portion of southern Georgia including Atlanta, as well as folks from much further away. There is a lot there, but it does get crowded.

I would think about Pensacola, or if you want a little quieter but still close to the action maybe think about staying in Navarre. Navarre has several Kayak guides, as mentioned above, and you'd be close to the "action" of both the Destin area as well as Pensacola; both have some cool stuff going on during summer. When we drive to the beach (as opposed to taking the boat out there), we go to Navarre. We went on July 4th, a weekend this past year, and yeah there were a lot of people but we found a parking spot and didn't have to walk more than a couple hundred yards to find a spot for our blanket and umbrella on the beach where we weren't shoulder to shoulder with the other people. That's pretty awesome for being 4th of July! Navarre is really a great area during tourist season.
 

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You oughta consider Navarre Beach. Not as crowded as some of the other beaches, easy access to the gulf or the sound, and a snorkel reef off the beach in the gulf and in the sound. There is a good website, navarrebeachlife.com, that you can gain a lot of info from. One of the regulars calls himself pcolakid lives in Houston and vacations in Navarre with family every summer.
 
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