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The Island Resort Fort Walton Beach

by Laura Hussey Estell on April 1st, 2024
Misty, the resident mermaid, makes frequent visits to chat with kids and pose for photos.

What makes a magical beach getaway? Well, for starters how about sugary sun-drenched sand, just steps away from your resort room? Then add picture-postcard views of emerald water and beach umbrellas, and a lush garden courtyard nestling a jewel of a pool. How about a waterfall-cloaked grotto, where you can swim up to the bar and order a tropical concoction? Perhaps even a resident mermaid, captivating children with tales of blue-water wonders. It’s all at The Island Resort Fort Walton Beach, situated on the majestic sands of Okaloosa Island.

Just a few minutes from Destin, The Island combines all the amenities of a full-size boutique hotel with the effortless comfort of a friend’s beach house. You’ll feel the local roots when you arrive, with surfboards and vintage VW beach bug cruisers marking the entrance. The hotel has an almost iconic status among locals; it opened in 1966 when Northwest Florida beaches were relatively undiscovered territory.

Aerial view of The Island Resort in Fort Walton Beach, FL.

Today, The Island Hotel is a sophisticated traveler’s getaway. The location is perfect for a family vacation, an escape with best friends, or even a spectacular destination wedding.

Things To Do Nearby

The shops and restaurants of Okaloosa Island’s Boardwalk are within walking distance, as well as the Gulfarium, with dolphin shows and marine animal encounters. More dining and shopping are just over the bridge in downtown Fort Walton Beach, with a lovely park to stroll along the inland waterway. And a short ride down the dune-lined island brings you to Destin, with activities galore, like world-class fishing, snorkeling, parasailing, paddle boarding and helicopter rides.

The only thing is… it might be tough to drag yourself away from the resort! The Island offers something for every mood and every member of the family. At The Grotto Swim-Up Bar, you’re surrounded by waterfalls as you enjoy a drink without leaving the water. The family will love The Grotto’s DJ Pool party, with games and prizes for kids and adults. And don’t do a double-take if you see a mermaid peeking out from a waterfall. Misty the Mermaid visits twice a week to share seaside stories and take photos with the kids. Pirate visits, scavenger hunts and arts and crafts are all
part of the family fun.

The swim up grotto at The Island Hotel
Enjoy a drink in the grotto at the swim-up bar

When the day is winding down, catch an unforgettable sunset at the Tripp Tide Beach Bar, and stick around for live entertainment nightly. Or you can start with happy hour every evening from 4:00 until 6:00 in the Coastal Kitchen restaurant. There’s an array of great menu items, along with everything from tropical drinks to your favorite top-shelf brands.

Fireworks display in Fort Walton for guests at The Island Resort Hotel
Wednesday night fireworks over the beach by The Island Resort Hotel

Onsite Dining and Entertainment at The Island Resort

Looking for some night-time fun? After dark, Island Resort guests can get a thrill watching the spectacular summer fireworks over the beach. Check on the schedule for this, but it usually happens each Wednesday night, with some other special occasion times thrown in during the spring and summer months. Are you and your group big music fans? Well you’re in luck then! There’s also a summer concert series, and special holiday celebrations on Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July weekend, and Labor Day weekend… all great times to book at The Island, just as any time is.

With so much fun in one place, you’re sure to work up an appetite. From a poolside bite at the Island Grille, to coastal cuisine at the Coastal Kitchen, The Island will never leave you hungry. The Coastal Kitchen is open for breakfast and dinner, featuring Gulf Coast specialties like snapper, fresh shrimp and crispy calamari. The atmosphere is relaxed and the hours are long, so you can lose track of time and eat when you like. After all, this is your vacation, so stay up, sleep late, and make the most of it all!

If you love to dine outdoors, The Island Grille will tempt you out of the water with the aroma of sizzling burgers, street tacos, and pizza. And a food truck on the beach patio serves up carnival-themed favorites such as funnel cake, boozy milkshakes, fried oreos, tater tots and hot dogs piled high with tasty toppings. And if you need to pack a snack for the beach, grab a couple of cold drinks, or pick up some beach toys, you can hit the Island Gift Shop for necessities and fun souvenirs.

heated pool and kiddie pool at The Island Resort Hotel in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

With 600 feet of pristine white beach, The Island is a place to rediscover the simple pleasures. Splashing in the Gulf, designing sandcastles, putting your foot prints in the sand, and dancing to the rhythm of the surf all make smiles in the sunshine when you choose The Island Resort Fort Walton.

This is a place where you’ll make memories, a place to make vows and promises, and to forget the cares of the world. You probably won’t find yourself staying in-doors a lot, but when you do you’ll be graced by the recently remodeled rooms at the Island. Each room is tastefully decorated in a casual, yet elegant vibe, with modern coastal décor in white and shades of blue. At the end of the day, you’ll sink into a pillow-top mattress and drift off to sleep, dreaming of the next day’s adventures.

In a landscape of cookie-cutter hotels and sometimes stuffy resorts, The Island Resort stands apart. Local flavor, boutique comfort, lush grounds and one of the best beaches in the world, all waiting to welcome you!

Beachfront view of The Island Resort in Fort Walton Beach, FL -- right on the magnificent sugar white sands of Okaloosa Island.
The Island Resort in Fort Walton Beach, Florida — right on the magnificent sugar white sands of Okaloosa Island.

This article was originally written by Laura Hussey in 2022 and updated by BeachGuide staff in June, 2023

Laura Hussey (as she goes by on-air) is a veteran television personality, with over 25 years experience in media.
She began her career behind the scenes in television production, before becoming a radio DJ, then network television reporter, later turned news anchor. Laura serves as one-half of the award winning “3 In the Morning” team on Northwest Florida’s largest network television station, ABC3 WEAR-TV, based in Pensacola and covering households from the Alabama Gulf Coast all the way to Destin, Miramar, and the beach communities of South Walton.
Originally from Kansas City, MO, Laura now resides with her husband, writer/editor, Will Estell, along the beautiful beaches of Destin, Florida.

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