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Best Western Ft Walton Beachfront and snorkeling ideas

oklahoma
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10 posts
2 reviews
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Best Western Ft Walton Beachfront and snorkeling ideas

How is the Best Western Ft Walton? We've stayed in the Four Points Sheraton and loved it but the Best Western generally gets better reviews, or similar and it is cheaper. Just thought we'd try it out cause it looks like most of their rooms are ocean front & bigger rooms.

Anyway, we love Ft Walton and will be there the week of June 12th. We'll probably take the kids on a snorkel trip, any recommendations there?? We went on one several years ago and had a blast but don't remember which one it was.

Louisville,Ky.
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1. Re: Best Western Ft Walton Beachfront and snorkeling ideas

I stayed at Best Western when they first opened in 1998 and it was pretty nice. Since them they've added a Tiki Bar I think. We went down last week though and I thought for the prices they (and other hotels) where charging that a condo was a better value. Everybody's different though and it is a well ekpt clean hotel.

I copied this from a post a guy posted in May of '05 about snorkeling in Destin, hope it helps....also you may want to check out boogieswatersports.com.

I am an avid snorkeler, and I beg to differ with what skoorb said about snorkeling in Destin. While Destin is not Cozumel or the Cayman Islands (you couldn't expect it to be, as Destin is located at the northermost point of the Gulf of Mexico), snorkeling at the Destin Jetties can be pretty darn good. There isn't much on the rocks except a fuzz of algae, but there are 1,000s of fish. In fact, the fish density is greater there than anywhere I have seen in the tropics, except perhaps the Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico. Most of the fish aren't as colorful as in the tropics; they are usually silvery colored such as pinfish, mullets, or jacks. However, there is a smattering of tropical fish to spice things up, such as sargeant majors, numerous damselfish (very colorful), juvenile butterflyfish, spadefish, wrasse, pufferfish, etc. You will also see many big hermit crabs, Florida stone crabs, and blue crabs. I was there last summer in June for 2 weeks, and the visibility was exceptional - 40-50 ft almost ever day. There was a sea turtle hanging around a few days, and I got a couple of great underwater photos of it. I also saw barrucuda and sting rays. While you can't always expect visibility this good, I would encourage you to try snorkeling there.

The key thing about snorkeling or diving at the jetties is that you have to go at high water slack tide. That is when there is little or no current, and since it is high tide, all the clear water from the Gulf has moved into Destin Pass. At low tide, there also isn't much current, but all the murky water from the bay has moved into the Pass. If you do a Google search for the "NOAA tide tables" for 2005, click on Florida, and you will eventually find monthly tide tables there for Destin Pass (it may be called something like East Pass Destin). I just checked this table, and for the period you want to go, there are favorable high tides during daytime on Sept 1-4. For the dates Sept 5-13, all the high tides occur at night, so snorkeling/diving at the jetties would not be good during this latter period.

You can find a description of how to get to the jetties at this site: www.scubaboard.com/showthread.php?t=60333

This is from a scuba diving bulletin board that gives info on shore diving sites in Florida. Scan down through the entries and you will find one for "Destin Jetties" by SeaYoda. He provides a detailed description of how to get to the jetties, complete with photos.

Except for the jetties, there aren't many other places to snorkel in Destin. The bottom offshore consists of the beautiful white sand of which Destin is famous, and there are no rocks to attract fish. You will see an occasional flounder, sometimes sand dollars, and a few snails or small hermit crabs, but not much else. One place of modest interest, that you can snorkel without regard to the tide, is the old Crystal Pier pilings. To get to this spot, go south on the major road that comes from the mid-bay Bridge, past Highway 98, and when you hit the Gulf, turn east (to the left). You are now on Scenic 98. Go east a mile or so (maybe less), and you will eventually come upon the Old Pier Hotel on the left (north) side of the road. Just to the west of the Old Pier Hotel is a small beach access with parking for about 4 cars. Walk down this access and you will see the old pier pilings going out into the water. If the parking is filled at the beach access (it probably will be unless you go early in the morning), you can park on the road in front of the Olpd Pier Hotel. As I said, the pier pilings are pretty modest for snorkeling, although every time I have been there (4-5 times), I have always seen sting rays in the sand. They must hang out there for some reason. I even saw a nurse shark there once. The best snorkeling is quite a ways offshore where you will find submerged pilings in about 13 ft of water. To go this far out, you have to be a fairly good snorkeler and take a dive flag with you to be sure some idiot in a jet ski doesn't run you over. To snorkel the pilings, the water in the Gulf has to be fairly calm, as this spot (unlike the jetties) is totally open to wave action that stirs up the sand.

Wow, I guess I have written a book on this, but it may be informative to others interested in snorkeling in Destin besides just you. I see you are from Texas. There is no comparison between the beaches in Texas and those in Destin. In Texas you have that murky brown water and hard packed sand. In Destin, you have the clearest water in the Gulf states and beautiful, soft white sand. By the way, if you do go to Destin over Labor Day, be aware that you will seeing it during its most crowded weekend, except for 4th of July and maybe Memorial Day. Make reservations soon!

2. Re: Best Western Ft Walton Beachfront and snorkeling ideas

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