Area Information

"Where the Water is Salty & the Memories are Sweet"

History of Destin

Destin’s history dates back to the seventh century A.D. Artifacts confirm American Indians lived here, surviving off the abundant seafood in area waters. Spanish explorers visited some 900 years later, and divers are still finding wreckage of old ships in area waters.

Destin traces its immediate history to a fisherman, Leonard Destin, who moved here from New London, Conn., and settled in Northwest Florida about 1845. For decades, he and his descendants fished and navigated the only channel passage to the Gulf of Mexico between Panama City and Pensacola, known as Destin’s East Pass.

Fishermen of Leonard Destin’s era fished close to the shores with seine nets from small boats called yawls, which they operated with oars. The oldest seine fishing boat still in existence is The Primrose, a 1920s era boat now restored and on display at Destin’s History and Fishing Museum. A trip through the museum reveals the evolution of fishing in the Destin area, from methods used by its earliest Indian inhabitants to seine nets, the introduction of rods and reels, and, eventually, to the largest charter fishing fleet in the state of Florida.

In 2009, Destin celebrated its 25th anniversary as an incorporated municipality. No longer a small fishing village, first-time visitors are still discovering what brings people back to Destin’s harbor and shores year after year... the beautiful white sandy beaches, emerald, green waters, friendly atmosphere, supreme dining, and, of course, fishing in the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.

Origin of Destin's Beautiful, White Sand

The unique sand of the beaches in the Destin area is among the whitest and most homogenous of the world.

Consisting of small quartz particles, this sand came from a process involving the Appalachian Mountains and the Apalachicola River 20,000 years ago. At the end of the last Ice Age when the world temperatures began warming and the ice caps began melting, large volumes of water were carried by the rivers to the world’s oceans. The Apalachicola River, rising in the Appalachians, carried water to the Gulf of Mexico and continues today.

This water carried the quartz particles from the rock that forms the Appalachian Mountains and deposited them in the Gulf of Mexico, just 125 miles to the east of what is now Destin. As the sea level began to rise, these quartz sands eventually formed a new shoreline. The sands today continually replenish and reach as far west as the Pensacola Pass, their final destination.