- Miles of white sand, on the beach side of this giant resort
- On the bay side - marina, sailing, fishing, kayaking
- Picture-perfect Village of Baytowne Wharf
- Many lodging options on 2400 acres
- Four golf courses, Junior Golf Academy
- Free tram to get around
- Complimentary use of bikes, canoes, kayaks
Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort - Introduction
- The Sandestin has 2400 acres on the "Emerald Coast" of northwest Florida, a stone's throw from Alabama. That's room enough for four golf courses; and golf is family-friendly, with for example a Junior Golf Academy.
- Different lodgings are available at various price points, including suites with kitchens, and townhomes. There are also hotels such as the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa.
- complimentary activities include biking (great way to get around), boogie boards, and kayaking and canoeing on the bay side. (Complimentary activities are time-limited.)
- The Village of Baytowne Wharf is the venue for frequent regional events.
Sandestin: Guide Review
The Emerald Coast
The crystalline green hue of the water here is created by the white quartz sand, and the beaches in this area are beautiful.
If you've heard the name "Redneck Riviera", take note: Sandestin brings new style to northwest Florida. The Sandestin's Village at Baytowne Wharf draws guests by land and sea with its specialty shops, restaurants (fine French to bayside funky), and even a couple of raunchy bars. The airport at Fort Walton Beach has been expanded.
My first orientation to Sandestin was "disorientation": in this vast expanse, where was the beach? Well, there's miles of it. But much of the property looks residential, and in fact Sandestin is a "resort community" with a few dozen neighborhoods. Visitors can rent vacation homes in many areas.
Sandestin has two distinct sides: the beach side on the Gulf of Mexico, and the bay side on the Choctawhatchee Bay. For getting around, bikes are rented at several locations. Four hours/day are complimentary*; for more time, multi-day deals are best. Also, free "on-call" trams run frequently: simply use use a special phone unit to call a minibus.
The center of gravity at Sandestin is the Village of Baytowne Wharf, carefully created by a team of designers who paid attention to detail-- from architectural history, to how the breezes blow.
Hundreds of shops or restaurants competed for 30-odd spots. Personal faves were the Bark Avenue pet boutique which had Halloween costumes for dogs, and Magnolia & Ivy Tea Room, where guests wear vintage hats and stoles. At the Candymaker, watch taffy being made. The Bistro Bijoux restaurant has won awards; Acme Oyster House looks fun and casual; Poppy's Seafood Factory dishes out lobster every night.*
Pedestrian-friendly Baytowne Wharf Village is open to the public and hosts regional festivals and other events. Young kids can have fun on a carousel.
The gentle shore is perfect for small kids, and the shore stretches on and on. Beach chairs can be rented (classy, but pricey), but plenty of folk bring their own gear. Boogie-boards and kayaks are complimentary for guests
Sandestin: Bayside Activities
The "Bay side" includes the Grand Sandestin, the Conference Center, the Village of Baytowne Wharf, the tennis courts, and the Bayside Marina.
- Don't miss the (complimentary) opportunity to kayak or canoe in pretty marsh areas
- kids will like exploring Jolee Island Nature Park and its playground
- they'll also like the two-story Captain Joe Lee's Tree House near the Bayside Marina. Free fishing is another fun activity at the Marina
- also available: waverunners, pontoon boats, sailboats and sailing lessons (kids and adults), parasailing, bay tours, fishing, etc.
- free water shuttles ply the waters from the Village to the Horseshoe Bayou parking lot.
Other Sandestin Activities
- Sandestin has four golf courses. Junior Golf programs and youth pricing encourage family play, and the friendly golf instructors are excellent.
- The Dunes Putting Course offers after-dark play
- A children's program, Club Kids Zone has activities for ages 3 to 12.* (Reserve in advance.)
- Teens might enjoy Baytowne Adventure Zone (with zipline, Eurobundy, ropes course...) or Junior Tennis camps
Sandestin offers various styles of lodging. The Bayside Inn is budget-friendly; penthouses at the Beachside might cost six times as much (though affordable condo units are found there too.)
Check Sandestin.com for lodging choices. Don't forget that no matter where you stay, the convenient free tram system will get you easily to the beach, Village, or wherever you want to do. Or use bikes: a pleasant 10-minute ride will get you most places on the property.
Check prices for Sandestin, at Kayak.com
*Always check resort web sites for updates!
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.