Secluded Spots in and Around Pensacola Beach
You may not know about some of the Pensacola Beach area’s most beautiful hidden treasures, places to steal away from the crowds and enjoy some quiet time surrounded by nature. Here are a few special stops you will want to make on your visit to Pensacola.
- James P. Morgan Memorial Park – a lovely park in the heart of Pensacola Beach, tucked away from all of the hustle and bustle of the island goings on. The park features lush live oaks, along with many indigenous plants and flowers. There’s a pretty pergola in the center, and benches provide the perfect setting to relax and reflect. The park was created in memory of Dr. James P. Morgan, an acclaimed beach geologist and longtime resident of Pensacola Beach. Native bird species such as the Snowy Egret are often observed nesting in the trees above.
- Naval Live Oaks Area – Part of the National Seashore, this area can be accessed from Highway 98, just down the road from Pensacola Beach, in Gulf Breeze. There are 7.5 miles of (dog friendly) hiking trails, picnic pavilions, and a visitor center showcasing the history of the park and flora and fauna that are found in the area. This is the site of the Naval Live Oaks Reservation, the first National Tree Farm established in 1828. Live Oak trees were used to construct ships, in fact, the inner hull of the U.S.S. Constitution from this type of wood. A trail leads directly to the waterfront of the Santa Rosa Sound, quite nearby one of our favorite snorkel spots, a ballast pile that is all that remains of an old shipwreck, offering a superb habitat for fish and marine life. https://jollysailing.com/snorkeling-tours/ https://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/naval-live-oaks-area.htm
- Opal Beach – about halfway between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach, on the Gulf Islands National Seashore along Hwy 399, lies beautiful Opal Beach. In 1995, Hurricane Opal swept through and flattened the dunes in this area, creating a splendid spot of beach off the beaten path. About 8 miles long, it offers plenty of seclusion amongst the sparkling white sands and emerald waters. There are shaded pavilions and restrooms close by. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, search for shells along the beach less traveled, perhaps even do some fishing, this is a great place to do it. https://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/santa-rosa-day-use-area.htm
- Bruce Beach – a sweet little beach with easy access to a unique part of Pensacola Bay for kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding just past the Blue Wahoos Stadium in downtown Pensacola. Historically known as a large part of the maritime industry in the 20th century, it later served as a neighborhood beach getaway. It included a public pool, primarily used by Pensacola’s African American community, during the time of segregation. Due to lack of funding, the area closed in 1975 and sat unused for a long time. A fish hatchery was initially planned for the site, which never came to fruition. Overgrown brush was cleared from the site, and picnic tables and a bench installed. The 6 acre park opened to the public in the fall of 2018. It’s a scenic spot with ample shade trees, convenient to downtown. Grab some fresh seafood (they’ll steam if for you) and some deli items for a nice picnic from Joe Patti’s Seafood, right down the road. https://www.joepattis.com/Joe-Pattis-Seafood-Company-Welcome.cfm https://www.outdoorgulfcoast.com/bruce-beach/
- Fort Pickens Trail – looking to get in some exercise in a delightful beach setting? Ride on down to Fort Pickens, at the western end of Santa Rosa Island/Pensacola Beach, and take a hike! The Northern Terminus of the 1,300 mile Florida National Scenic Trail, about 7.5 miles, consists of two parts, a beach section and trail section. There’s about 5 miles of sandy shore to walkabout, devoid of buildings and trees. Several different bird species, including Sandpipers, Snowy Plovers, Great Blue Herons, and the occasional Bald Eagle may be seen along the way. Manta Rays, Dolphins and Sea Turtles can also be spotted oftentimes. You’ll arrive at Langdon Beach, which has a nice shady pavilion to rest and rehydrate. Then you can hop on the Fort Pickens Trail, which weaves through salt marshes past the campground, to Battery Worth. There’s a pretty solid trail from there, which ends outside of the entrance to the fort. Lots of pretty wildflowers, wild rosemary and other native plants can be seen along the way. You may even see an armadillo! https://floridahikes.com/florida-trail-fort-pickens
It’s always fun to take the path less traveled. Take some time to visit one or more of these hidden gems of Pensacola Beach while you’re here. It’s well worth the detour!