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Vacationing on Holiday Isle in Destin, Florida

by Kelly Troiano on April 1st, 2011
Destin Pointe condo rentals

View of the pool at Magnolia House at Destin Pointe. Beyond the sand dunes is Destin’s East Pass, providing boat access from Destin Harbor and the bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

This has been the second year that our family has “celebrated” spring break–we have a 3rd grader and twins that are in kindergarten. Last year, we went to Atlanta for the first weekend of spring break and then to our family farm for the second weekend. This year my husband, Cory, surprised us with a trip to the beach for the week! Two families that we know would be vacationing in Destin on Holiday Isle, so we decided to join them. Now I haven’t been to Holiday Isle since I was in high school–some 25 plus years ago! Back in high school, this was about the only area to go to in Destin besides SeaScape and Sandestin. Destin has grown in these 20 some odd years as has Holiday Isle, but a lot is still the same–and in a good way!

Our family stayed at the end of the Isle at Destin Pointe –I don’t remember that being there from my glory days. It’s a gated community with houses, one mid-rise condo building, two pools (one is heated), and glorious sidewalks! There are also sidewalks from the beginning of Holiday Isle at Highway 98 all the way to the end at Noriego Pointe. With all these sidewalks in mind, my children and I decided that bikes were in order! I would have to say that it was the best money I spent! We rode to the beach, the heated pool, around our neighborhood, and around the surrounding neighborhoods. We rented from Surf & Cycles ( They were very friendly and helpful with adjusting all of our seats and fixing

Jetties at Destin's East Pass

Jetties at the end of Holiday Isle are a destination for snorkel and dive boats. This spot is easily accessible from Destin Pointe and just a short walk on the beach from most condo rentals on Holiday Isle.

wobbly training wheels. They even threw in helmets for everyone! With the flat area, my twin six-year-old daughter gained all the confidence she needed to ride her bike around the area. You see, in Birmingham (where we’re from), there are not a lot of flat areas to ride bicycles.

Besides spending surprisingly warm days at the beach and heated pool, we took the children to The Track . Of course, go-carts were the main draw and didn’t disappoint! It was my first time on a go-cart for both the Rookie Track and the regular track. It was fun, but according to my son I could have gone a bit faster around the track! The kids rode the bumper boats and a couple of kiddie rides before heading back.
Children crabbing on Holiday Isle in Destin, FL

Crabbing on Holiday Isle

We also had a night of old-fashioned fun crabbing on the beach. With nets and flashlights, you can’t have a much cheaper or funner night. Sadly, it must have been a bit chilly for the sand crabs as only one was caught along with a squid that “inked” the surrounding sand in front of the children. I think that experience made up for all the missing crabs!

Being older parents, we forgot about the craziness of St. Patrick’s Day. We all boarded our friends’ boat and took a harbor cruise to HarborWalk Village where the celebration was just getting started! Colorful beads were thrown from balconies, people everywhere donned green, and a DJ and band performed. The kids enjoyed the DJ where they all danced the Electric Slide and other line dances on stage! At a little after 9:00, we knew it was time to bid adieu to the celebration and load up the seven children in our boat and head home!

The restaurants in this part of Destin did not disappoint either! Every place catered to children and to our grown-up tastes. Kudos to Louisiana Lagniappe at Sandpiper Cove (on Holiday Isle) and to The Crazy Lobster at HarborWalk Village for prompt seating and good food for our party of 13 each time. Pepitos Mexican Restaurant was a kid favorite and admittingly a grown-ups, too. (Though I do think it’s somewhat of a sin not to eat seafood at every meal when you’re at the beach!). I had heard much about Dewey Destin Seafood, so we headed out for a late lunch/early dinner one afternoon. It’s on the bay overlooking Crab Island (they also have a harbor location). It’s right on the docks and they cook in a separate building out back. We had your basic fried seafood baskets plus cheeseburgers and chicken fingers for the kids. Our children loved playing in the bay and in the sand beside the dock. They would have been content to spend the rest of the afternoon there, so thumbs up to Dewey Destin’s for the experience! We did eat in one night–boiled and barbecued shrimp which was bought at Destin Ice . I recommend the Barbecued Shrimp

looking for crabs on Crab Island in Destin, Florida

Crab Island

seasoning that my friend bought there — so good that I bought some to take back to Birmingham.

If you have a boat or access to a boat, this area is the place to stay. Besides fishing, we took sunset cruises around the canals and harbor and anchored at Crab Island–just past the bridge going into Ft. Walton. If the water had been a bit warmer, we would have spent long hours in the ankle- and knee-deep clear bay waters. And to the childrens’ delight, we saw plenty of dolphins! Several cruise boats that leave from Harborwalk marina were out, including AJ’s Seablaster and The Southern Star.
Birmingham had an early spring break, starting the week of March 14–March 18. We encountered some college kids but mainly families and snow birds. There are many places in the Destin area to vacation–and all are beautiful. But for less crowds and beautiful beaches as well as being a low-key and family-friendly area, you can’t beat this part of Destin. Our family can’t wait til Spring Break 2012–we’ll be back!
If you prefer a beach house rental on the canals or beachfront, see this list of Destin Beach House Rentals.
If you rent a condo on the beach and want to bring your boat, consider renting a boat slip on Holiday Isle for the week or weekend. Or, you can rent a boat nearby at Harborwalk Marina or schedule a cruise. See this list of fun things to do in Destin.

Holiday Isle is within minutes of an amazing selection of restaurants.   See this list of places to eat in Destin.

From → Destin, Gulf Coast

One Comment
  1. Hi Kelly. You’ve put together a fantastic post here. Florida is such a great place for a vacation. It’s always a hit with the kids, and there’s plenty to see and do. Keep up the good work!

    Best wishes, Alex.

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