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  1. #1
    Never say never KirkF350's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Colleyville, Texas

    Riding around Navarre Beach and down to Destin

    Whatís up peeps?
    I booked a place for the 2nd week of June in Navarre Beach. Looking at Google Maps, a run to Destin is easily doable through Santa Rosa Sound. Parts of Santa Rosa Island look like a military base. Are there restrictions to riding through there or beaching?
    if anyone wants to hook up for a ride during the week then drop me a line.

  2. #2
    Click avatar for tech links/info K447's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    near Toronto, Canada
    Santa Rosa sound east of Navarre, you can ride the waters. There is a marked boat channel with fairly deep water. Outside the channel the water depth and hazards varies a lot. Some areas are very shallow or have underwater obstructions. Only some have signs.

    Study the marine charts for the sound.

    Beaching along the military base coastline of the sound away from all military base (Air Force) buildings, equipment or personnel seems to be generally tolerated. Do not walk inland from the beach areas.

    There are several nice beach areas just east from the Navarre bridge. Note there are also several restricted no-riding areas, marine species protected areas.

    There are also some islands farther along the sound to the east which make good stopping points.

    The base property extends the full width of the island all the way from Navarre Beach east to near Fort Walton Beach.

    If you are not familiar with the Santa Rosa sound, be aware that the water is shallow in many areas. High vs low tide can change a near 2 foot depth to a few inches. There are MANY sandbars and they shift with storms and current. GPS marine charts can show generally where the sea bottom contours are but do not be surprised that the actual water depths and sandbar extents do not exactly match the charts.

    Know the tide timetable for the Sound. Ride when tide is rising and above half-way through the up cycle. You can ride during low tide but you really have to know what areas outside the marked channels are going to be 'too shallow'.

    Anywhere there is a point of land extending north into the sound, expect that the water well beyond the point is also very shallow. Some of those points you may need to stay 100 yards away from the point to have good depth.

    West from Navarre Beach is a national park. Lots of open beach areas along the Sound with few people, often no one in sight.

    Shut the engine off before the depth gets so shallow that the jet pump draws in sand and shells.

    Sometimes a direct path from deep water to the beach will run over a shallow sandbar. We soon learned which beach areas needed to be approached at an angle to the shoreline or follow a curved route between sandbars.

    In this photo the white water tower for the military area is visible in the distance, looking east.

    The quickly changing colors of the water in the shallow areas below can be tricky to read at speed. Sometimes a light or dark color change means shallow, sometimes it just is seaweed vs. sand bottom.

    We have ridden from near Santa Rosa town (west end of Santa Rosa Island) all the way to Destin (and beyond). And westward as far as Perdido Key and Orange Beach.

    A tour to Destin from Navarre Beach should be doable with a full fuel tank, depending on how you ride and your cruise range.

    Riding west from Navarre Beach you can go farther than a single tank of fuel will get you back. There are a few marinas with gas docks here and there, but they may only sell one octane grade. If you plan to buy fuel at gas docks, check what places are open and sell the fuel grade you need.

    Also take several long dock lines. Some of the gas docks are (no joke) 4 or 5 feet above the water level. Built for huge yachts.

    From Navarre Beach it is a long ride to get out into the open ocean. There are almost zero launch ramps on the gulf side and the waves can be large.

    There are very few places safe to beach a PWC on the gulf side. Lots of big waves crashing onto the shore. Fun to swim and play in the surf but brutal on a PWC hull if it gets pounded into the beach.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by K447; 10-12-2021 at 07:35 AM.

  3. #3
    Never say never KirkF350's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Colleyville, Texas
    Thanks a bunch for the info!
    I’ve ridden Orange Beach a few times and trust me, not interested in riding in the Gulf. Lol
    I have a Garmin Echomap Plus 43 with the depth finder that I use to help keep me in the main channel and I love it.
    I have had my share of sandbar and seaweed issues there so thanks for the reminder.

  4. #4
    Pacer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Patterson La
    Gotta stay out several hundred yds from the beach on the gulf side. Canít remember the law 3 or 5 hundred. Not supposed to beach on the gulf shore. Iíve been warned a few times for riding too close but never ticketed. Ride to Pensacola inlet also and orange beach. The Pensacola inlet is nice especially on the fort Pickens side. Nice beach.

    The main hazard worse than shallow water is the multitude of rental skis and party barges in the Destin inlet. Keep your head on a swivel when riding in that area.

    Obey the no wake zones around the bridges and all around crab island.

  5. #5
    mittens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Huntsville, AL
    Juanas for a lunch stop is always a good one. Some mileage for your info below. Also in Destin, can ease out the pass and hook right, behind the jetty, always seems to be a lot of dolphins there and pretty water and deep. Have some good videos many times in same spots. I boat down in these areas pretty regularly considering I actually live in Huntsville, AL. Lots of day trips, and lunch stops, and exploring. I can walk you all the way to PCB by water if you really want to put some mileage on. or past Mobile bay to Dolphin island. But most don't cover that kind of mileage.

    Going East:
    Navarre bridge to Fort Walton bridge 15.5 miles. Newer Lunch spot now here you can beach a ski at called "The gulf"
    as you come into Fort Walton the "Fort Walton Beach Yacht Basin" is closest spot for fuel. few others in Fort Walton as well. Then Destin harbor. or up in Shalimar.
    Navarre bridge to Crab island 20 miles. (4.5 miles to cross the bay on the short side of channel by the coast guard station)
    all the inland islands around Mary Ester are easy spots to beach and chill.
    Also as you going out Destin Pass, on the right is nice sandy beach past the bridge a lot stop for breaks on.

    Going West
    Navarre bridge to Pensacola Board walk 16.5 miles. Paradise Island is another spot you can eat by ski if this way.
    Fuel you have to go under bridge and slide into Little Sabine Bay, they sell fuel in there.
    Navarre Bridge to Fort McRee 28 miles. Fort McRee is nice area, at the Pensacola pass, has back areas to explore the left over fort, and sand and pretty water. to get here from Pensacola board walk the bay can get rough. Plan for it, hope its not.
    Perdido Key bridge has fuel. is 6.5 miles from Fort McRee.
    Fort McRee to Pirates Cove is 13.3 miles. Awesome lunch spot. Burgers and bushwakers (they took damage with hurricane so with most places I mention call and be sure open)
    Fort McRee to Flora Bamma Yacht Club is 13 miles. Another good lunch spot, can beach skis and have food drink while watching them. You can run the back side of Ono Island on plane from Flora bama all the way back to perdido Key bridge. But its no wake from Flora Bama to Robinson island / Orange beach pass. and all around that pass, and islands. Also ALL of Cotton bayou. We made the mistake of launching in Cotton once.
    You can run From Pirates cove through Wolf Bay, and see Barber Marina(Fuel) , and Gulf Shores "The Warf"(Fuel), and keep rolling to LuLue's. (Fuel), and then follow it out to Mobile Bay and there is sandy point to chill on. its 15 miles from the Mobile bay to Pirates cove.

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