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The boardwalk project, completed in June 2012 includes new decking and pavers, landscaping, lighting, and seating. Many of the property owners along the harbor joined together to add continuity along the harbor with easy access to local fishing charter boats, great restaurants, and a multitude of water activities.
The history of Destin is a colorful one with many significant events taking place right here along the harbor. Founded in 1830 by Captain Leonard Destin, the little fishing village went on to be known as Destin. Captain Destin enticed people to settle in the area by offering fishing jobs to young men. The total population of Destin back then was not more than 100 people, with the majority of them employed in the fishing industry.
The geography of the land here is what helped to make this an ideal fishing location. Destin’s East Pass is the only waterway connecting the Choctawhatchee Bay to the Gulf of Mexico for approximately 60 miles in either direction. This however was not of Mother Natures’ doing, originally the Gulf and the bay were not connected. In 1926, the Melvin, Marler, and Destin families took it upon themselves to alter the coastline. Without the use of any large excavating machinery, four men, using only hand shovels, cut a drainage ditch two feet wide across Okaloosa Island. Within two hours, the ditch the grew to over 100 yards wide. eventually unleashing a torrent of rushing water that created the East Pass into what you see today. Today the Army Corp of Engineers, periodically dredge the East Pass to keep it safe for boat traffic to move through safely.
The first bridge connecting Okaloosa Island to Destin was constructed around 1933. Just north of the Destin Bridge is known to all the locals as Crab Island, one of two islands created by the dredged up sand from the East Pass. A year later US Highway 98 was completed, opening up Destin for all to enjoy.
Today the Destin Harbor is home to the largest fishing fleet in Florida with about 150 charter and party boats in operation. Fishing trips are run daily throughout the year drawing avid sportsmen and tourists from all over the globe. The daily catches can be enjoyed every afternoon along the docks, as well as the fishing stories that abound. Destin, also known as the “world’s luckiest fishing village” and the “Billfishing Capital” of the northern Gulf is the home of many world record titles. Destin is home to some of the largest fishing tournaments in the world, such as the Destin Fishing Rodeo, established in 1948. This tournament “lures” in over 30,000 anglers competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money. A sport fisherman can fish for sailfish, white marlin, blue marlin, wahoo, king mackerel, and a variety of tunas, year-round in Destin.
Just south of the Destin Boardwalk are located the East and West Jetties, offering a perfect spot for snorkelers and divers.
In addition to fishing, other recreational activities along the Destin Boardwalk include going to the beach, water sports such as jet skis and pontoon boats. And do not forget the excellent dining and retail specialty shopping found here such as Aj’s Seafood, Fisherman’s Wharf, and local fav The Boathouse Oyster Bar, just to name a few. With the addition of the new boardwalk, many additional establishments are either nearing completion or are in the planning stages. This is a time of amazing growth and excitement for all, as the Destin Boardwalk is fast becoming one of the highlight attractions in Destin for the whole family to enjoy.