Jetty East Condos
According to some, the waves at Jetty East Condos are more prominent, with swells up to six and eight feet. On rare occasions, waves can climb into the 10-foot range. Ideally, waves break best in the winter after a passing cold front with winds out of the northwest. On these big-wave days, walk down toward the jetty to paddle out. You’ll find a channel between the jetty and where the biggest waves are breaking. After drifting toward the east and catching those waves, you’ll go in and can walk back up the beach.
Two By Fours
The Two By Fours break is similar to Jetty East, but it is farther east. It’s an outside break, so it is accessible on big days by either trying your luck on the paddle out or drifting down from Jetty East. On medium-size, outside days, it has a great outside peak. To find it, follow the beach road to the abrupt right curve. Look for the Sandpiper Cove condos, and about a half-mile past Sandpiper Cove, look for the long boardwalk on the left. You can park across the street.
Locals know that when nowhere else is breaking, NCO will have a decent wave. To get there, follow Highway 98 east toward Destin. If you turn into the parking lot just before Destin bridge you’ll see surfers’ cars and the sign saying NCO Beach Club. Or, if you’re coming from the west, head through Destin. You’ll find the club just over the Destin bridge on the left.
Since NCO is only about a mile from Destin’s west jetty, it gets swells without the degree of drift that other beaches have. There will be waves all the way from the west jetty to the beach club. On those medium to large days, surfers typically walk toward the jetty, about halfway. Then, they surf all the way down to the club, and walk back. Wave closest to the jetty often are unpredictable, with a shifty or twisting peak. But, roughly midway between the jetty and the club you’ll find a long, fast mid-break that’s perfect on summer days.
Located midway between Sandpiper Cove and Two by Fours, where a pipe flushes the Destin Harbor with clean Gulf water, is the Pumphouse. Look for the low block building on the right after you pass Sandpiper Cove. You can park along the road. Once you get to the beach, look for a buoy marking where the outflow is. Typically, it’s opposite the Pumphouse, about 250 yards out. Expect this area to have mostly a winter wave that is big outside and hollow inside.
Known locally as HMO, the name has nothing to do with your medical provider. It stands for “half-mile out.” To get there, you can follow the beach road west, almost to the end. Check for the boat docks on the right and look for surfers’ cars parked along the road. If you walk south along the pass to the east jetty, you can paddle out. On big days, the right-hander swell can be a spectacularly large, winding point wave. It will break on the shallow sandbar far outside of the east jetty of Destin Pass. It is challenging because the Destin Pass has one of the fastest tidal flows around. Peak incoming or outgoing tides flow just like a river. You can catch it wrong and get pulled out. So plan on paddling six miles out. A Jet Ski and an anchor might be the best option to a leisurely surf out there.
In most locations and all along the beach, boogie boarding and tire tube floats, or just body surfing.