Pure, white sand and the Gulf of Mexico’s turquoise waters greet you at John Beasley Park. With its towering sand dunes that buffer the road from the beach, it feels far removed from Okaloosa Island. John Beasley Park is located on the Gulf side of the island, offering an infinite view of water to the horizon.
When facing the ocean, look right and you’ll spot Okaloosa Island Pier, a popular fishing destination fo locals. The pier is the most popular spot to fish on Okaloosa Island, but the catches are similar along the shores of John Beasley Park. When surf-fishing on the Gulf, it’s often hard to predict what you’ll catch, but you can expect Pompano, Redfish, Kingfish, and Catfish.
What Makes It Great
Because John Beasley Park is farther from the Pier and the crowded action, bird watching while walking the beach is a popular past time. Willets (fuzzy gray birds with longer black bills) are smaller than seagulls and can be seen probing the shores by the tidelines. The snowy plover spends its time by the water is even smaller than the willet. It almost looks like a finch but its white and sand coloration help it to blend into the beaches. The easiest birds to spot, mainly due to their loud calls, is the royal and least terns, which also can be seen dive-bombing into the waters. It is a beach after all, so expect seagulls, and don’t expect them to be afraid of people.
Many say that John Beasley Park is one of the most beautiful beaches in Fort Walton, and a testament is the number of beach weddings that use this venue year-round. Come for a sunset, where the rose, orange, and deep purple hues provide a backdrop against the distant fishing pier. John Beasley Park’s beach is popular with families and is much less crowded than some of the known “party beaches” in the area. Okaloosa Island itself is only about three miles long, and John Beasley Park is located near the western side of the island. Walking east opens up to beachfront homes and condominiums, and is prime for bird-watching. For a lazy day, dig your feet in the sand and soak up the sun.
Who is Going to Love It
The Gulf of Mexico’s waters are calm, so while you’ll rarely find surf, the waves are great for open water swimming. The water stays shallow pretty far out, so its easy to stand at any time when you need rest. Swim parallel to shore, but stay away from the fishing pier, as that’s where you are most likely to get hooked from fishermen!
Birdwatchers can meander east down the shore. The further away from the crowds, the more native birds you will find, like the above mentioned willet, snowy plover, and royal terns.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The beach at John Beasley Park is monitored during lifeguards during posted hours. The park has its own parking lot, available free of charge. John Beasley Park has two pavilions; one that is available to rent and one available on a first-come, first serve basis. As you leave the beach, there are two showers to rinse off, and the park has full bathroom and changing facilities. During peak season, the facility’s shop rents out skimboards and bodyboards, as well as beach chairs and umbrellas. Fishing permits are required. Non-resident fishing permits are $17 for three consecutive days, or $30 for seven consecutive days.