Best Florida Beaches of the Redneck Riviera

Updated on November 28, 2018
Where are the best Florida beaches? Read to find out!
Where are the best Florida beaches? Read to find out! | Source

Florida Panhandle

The Florida Panhandle is home to some of the best Florida beaches, and several beach towns on the Panhandle still have that Old Florida charm that has all but disappeared from much of the rest of the state. The Florida Panhandle is easy to find on any map. It’s that narrow strip of land that connects to the main peninsula like a handle attaches to a frying pan. Generally speaking, anything west of the mouth of the Apalachicola River, at Apalachicola, Florida, is considered as part of the Panhandle. Sometimes the Big Bend area to the east is also considered to be part of the panhandle, but you won’t find the best Florida beaches there – the gorgeous sand and water of the Gulf Coast beaches are farther west. In all, the region is about 200 miles long, and the coast fronts the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a region of forests, farms, and tiny obscure towns, for the most part. But that’s inland. Along the Gulf are fishing villages, stretches of undeveloped coast, natural bays, estuaries, and some of the best Florida beaches you can imagine.

The Gulf Coast beaches have clear, calm water.
The Gulf Coast beaches have clear, calm water. | Source
The best Florida beaches are on the Florida Panhandle!
The best Florida beaches are on the Florida Panhandle! | Source
Notice the white sand of the Gulf Coast Beaches.
Notice the white sand of the Gulf Coast Beaches. | Source
Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico
Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico | Source

Best Florida Beaches

Why do I say some of the best Florida beaches can be found on the Florida Panhandle? The Gulf Coast beaches here are amazing! They include top vacation destinations like Pensacola, Panama City Beach, Destin, and Ft. Walton. You’ll also find spots that aren’t so well known, including Cape San Blas, Mexico Beach, St. Joe Beach, Beacon Hill, St. George Island, Grayton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Rosemary Beach, Navarre, WaterColor Beach, and Perdido Key.

The beaches here are beautiful. In fact, Dr. Beach named the shore at Cape San Blas the best beach in the U.S. a couple of years ago! The sand is soft and dazzling white, consisting of powdered quartz. Because of its high reflectivity, it doesn't even get hot like the darker sands of Florida's Atlantic beaches, so there's no need for flip-flops to come between you and the beach. The stretches of sand on the Florida Panhandle are wide and level, perfect for volleyball, Frisbee, and sunning.

This area is informally divided into regions known as the Emerald Coast, the Miracle Strip, and the Forgotten Coast. Most of the Old Florida towns are located on the Forgotten Coast, and they really do seem to have been largely overlooked. It’s almost like time has stood still in some places, like Apalachicola, Carrabelle, Port St. Joe, Dog Island, and St. Vincent Island, just to name a few. There are lots of Gulf Coast beaches in the region to discover!

Redneck Riviera

I'm sure you've heard of the famous Riviera, but are you familiar with the Redneck Riviera? That's what many locals call the Florida Panhandle. This area includes communities like Mexico Beach, Beacon Hill, Port St. Joe, Cape San Blas, St. Joe Beach, Panama City, Ft. Walton Beach, and Destin, Florida. The "Riviera" part comes from the beautiful, clear turquoise water, and the "redneck" part comes from the fact that the region is largely inhabited by Southern conservatives. Put the two terms together, and you have Redneck Riviera. But don't worry - the natives are friendly!

The water fronting the Redneck Riviera is gorgeous, with gentle waves and practically no undertow in some places. The surf is shallow, with a gentle, gradual slope. There are no drop-offs to worry about, so these are very kid-safe beaches.

Because of the water's high visibility, snorkeling and diving are favorite pastimes on the Redneck Riviera. Also popular are fishing, shelling, scalloping, swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and sightseeing. In larger cities like Panama City and Destin, there are even more opportunities for vacationers.

We love visiting the Redneck Riviera! We try to make the drive at least once or twice a year for a family vacation. We have very young grandchildren, so we appreciate the calmness and the clarity of the water, along with the cool sand on the beach. We always have a wonderful time here. The entire family stays together in a huge house right on the beach. In most of the beach houses in which we've stayed, when we step off the back porch or deck, we're on the glorious sand. We've traveled all over Florida, but for great beaches, the Redneck Riviera is our favorite area.

When you decide to come to the Redneck Riviera for a visit, you'll have a wide range of lodging choices. This stretch of coastline has plenty of beachfront houses, luxurious homes, oceanfront condos, magnificent villas, campgrounds, hotels, motels, cabins, and seaside cottages. There's a huge price range for accommodations, so you're sure to find one to fit your budget - even for beachfront lodging.

Kids love the Gulf Beaches!
Kids love the Gulf Beaches! | Source

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach is perhaps the pinnacle of the Redneck Riviera. It’s a beautiful place, but like other “touristy” spots on the Florida Panhandle, it’s a congested area with tons of hotels and other beach rentals, along with high-rises, fast food joints, and all sorts of attractions. Panama City Beach is often referred to as a “party town,” and during Spring Break, the term is certainly applicable. Thousands and thousands of college students from around the nation fill the PCB hotel rooms and condos every year during Spring Break, and the town becomes “party central.” By summer, the college partying is over, but the beaches are still filled with crowds, in the form of family vacationers.

If you want to enjoy Panama City Beach with fewer crowds, I suggest going in September or October. The weather is still comfortably warm, and the ocean temps are usually still high enough for swimming and other water sports. During the fall and winter months, you can also enjoy the wonderful fresh seafood at local restaurants without having to wait two hours for a table. If you want to experience Old Florida, however, Panama City Beach is not your best bet.

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach, Fl:
Panama City Beach, FL, USA

get directions

Old Florida means quiet, uncrowded beaches.
Old Florida means quiet, uncrowded beaches. | Source

Old Florida

I’m assuming you’re familiar with the term “Old Florida.” In case you’re not, you’ve probably figured it out on your own. Much of the Florida Panhandle has its own unique old Florida charm. You won't find high rises, sprawling shopping malls, amusement parks, or wall-to-wall fast food restaurants and touristy joints in small towns like Mexico Beach and St. Joe Beach. Instead, you'll discover charming locally-owned restaurants that serve fresh Gulf seafood and quaint mom-and-pop stores that sell groceries, clothing, and beach supplies. In Panama City and Destin, Florida, you'll usually find crowds, along with large shopping malls and an abundance of all different types of restaurants and fast-food eateries.

If you want to experience the laid-back, natural beauty of the eastern Redneck Riviera and some of the best Florida beaches, hurry up! This place can't remain secret forever. In fact, I’m always a little surprised that these places still exist. The tiny beach towns will soon be discovered, just like Panama City and Destin. As soon as developers grab it, it will become just another beach resort area. The old Florida charm will be swallowed up by huge conglomerates, and the quaintness will disappear. Once that happens, it will be gone forever, never to be recaptured. You and your family deserve a visit to the best Florida beaches while they’re still pristine.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      David Buchanan 

      18 months ago

      This yankee is coming, soon.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Michael, I'm sure you've been here. Isn't it a beautiful place?!

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      10 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Great Hub Habee!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Oh, you're one to talk! How 'bout your article about why Yankees should retire to South Georgia??

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      10 years ago from Southern Georgia

      From one redneck to another, good hub but don't tell everyone about this place, it will be full of Yankees. LOL


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)