Pensacola Beach is a lively stretch of white sand and clear water, often ranked among the top beaches in the world. Ask any friendly local and they will tell you that you're in the right place for relaxing on the beach, snorkeling in the sea, or catching something fresh and tasty for dinner. A natural setting for both unwinding and letting your hair down, it is particularly prone to parties during spring break, but there's plenty of beach for everyone if solitude is what you're after.
Pensacola Beach is on Santa Rosa Island, and the area's seclusion from the hubbub of the mainland has created a unique and fun-loving environment. To get the lay of the land, walk the Pensacola Beach Eco Trail, a well-marked nature trail that covers most of the main beach areas and points out interesting plant and animal life in the area.
If you're feeling adventurous, try paddle boarding. This sport is extremely popular on Pensacola Beach, and board rentals and lessons are available all over the island. Fishing is also extremely popular, and Pensacola Beach is known as the Red Snapper capital of the world. Reserving a spot on a charter boat is easy, but cast your line from the Pensacola Beach Pier if you want a more casual fishing experience.
The region has fantastic sunsets, so make it a point to be outside at dusk. Evenings on the beach are pleasant in Pensacola Beach, but there are also plenty of open-air restaurants and bars with beach views on Portofino Boardwalk. The area's specialty cocktail is called the Bushwacker; this deceptively mild-tasting coconut and chocolate drink can be found in establishments all over the island.
On average, Pensacola Beach gets over 300 days of sunshine a year, so there isn't a bad time of year to visit, but the activities available and general mood of the island change somewhat with the seasons. Summer is peak season and is the best time for travelers interested in snorkeling, swimming and paddle boarding. This is also the busiest time of year, and the island is in full party mode.
In fall, the weather becomes too chilly for swimming, but the beaches are quieter, and the humidity is lower. Winter sees lows in the 50s on most days, and the temperature can dip close to freezing on rare occasions. Beach activities are limited mostly to walks in winter, and locals and visitors focus on golf and fishing in their leisure time. Spring is pleasantly warm with open beaches, but the weather has been known to be stormy occasionally and somewhat unpredictable.
Getting to Pensacola Beach is simple. The island now has its own airport, Pensacola International Airport (PNS), which sees over 100 flights per day. If you're driving, Pensacola Beach is accessible from 1-10, 1-65, Highway 98 and I-11. Once you're on the island, you can park at your hotel and walk, bike or take the free beach trolley service that runs from late May to late September.
The Island has a mixture of small hotels, larger chains and luxury accommodations, offering short walks to the beach. Rooms in Pensacola Beach hotels with ocean views tend to fill up sooner, so book early.
You will find a cluster of hotels on this road that runs through the island and joins onto Pensacola Beach Boulevard. The Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front and Margaritaville Beach Hotel both sit along it, offering instant access to the sands.
* Prices reflect the lowest "base rate" found over the next 30 days. Rates are subject to change and may not include taxes and fees, hotel service charges, extra person charges, or incidentals, such as room service. All rates are displayed in USD unless otherwise noted. Converted rates are provided for your convenience. They are based on today's exchange rate, but the hotel will charge you in the local currency.