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Florida Coastal Access Guide - Santa Rosa County at a Glance Quicklinks

Santa Rosa at a Glance

Coastal Cities Gulf Breeze
Popular Spot Santa Rosa Island
Sandy Beaches 5 miles
Public Accesses 10
Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail 9 sites
State Parks & Lands Acres
Blackwater River State Park 636
Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park 835
Yellow River Marsh State Aquatic Preserve 16,435
Blackwater River State Forest 190,000
Federal Lands Acres
Gulf Islands National Seashore (Escambia, Okaloosa) 66,549
Eglin Air Force Base (Okaloosa, Walton) 463,448
Choctawhatchee National Forest (Okaloosa) 218
Bays & Inlets
Escambia, East & Blackwater bays, Santa Rosa Sound, Indian & Trout bayous
Rivers & Paddling Trails
Blackwater, Escambia, Shoal & Yellow rivers, Coldwater & Juniper creeks, Intracoastal Waterway, Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail

Santa Rosa County's seven-mile coast is the second shortest in the state (Jefferson County's is shorter). Similar to other Panhandle counties, it is sparsely populated with only one coastal city, Gulf Breeze on Santa Rosa Island. This barrier island shelters the entire county mainland from gulf storms. Its inland side fronts Santa Rosa Sound.

Santa Rosa Island's western 3.8 miles feature Navarre Beach with beautiful white beaches and emerald green waters on the gulf and sound sides. Activities include swimming, surfing, boating, kayaking and fishing on one of the longest piers in Florida.

The eastern half is owned and operated by Eglin Air Force Base, which keeps much of the county in conservation. It is the largest military installation in the country, covering three counties-Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton. The Naval Air Station at Whiting Field is the busiest naval air station in the world with approximately 46% of all naval air training.

Historic Milton, one of the oldest towns in the state, is inland on the Blackwater River near East Bay. Several historic attractions in the area represent the textile, logging, sawmill, and shipbuilding industrial era. Santa Rosa County has two state parks: 600-acre Blackwater River State Park with one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation and awards for the best camping, canoeing and beaches in America and Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park, which has no recreational facilities, but has the largest community of pitcher plants in the state offering wonderful opportunities for photographers.

Yellow River Marsh Aquatic Preserve is a vital habitat for many species and a natural flood control and filter to a 7,000-square-mile area. It encompasses thousands of acres of forested wetlands, salt and freshwater marsh, seagrass beds and portions of Blackwater Bay, East Bay and Florida's swiftest flowing river, the pristine Yellow River. It is a major recreational and commercial fishing area.

Blackwater River State Forest, "Canoe Capital of Florida," and the surrounding area boast more than a million acres of wilderness for hikers, kayakers, bird watchers, and campers.

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Last updated: October 28, 2015

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