The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village: The History of Destin

Natural beauty is a central part of Destin historyWith unique white sand beaches, stunning emerald green water and the largest fishing vessel fleet in the state of Florida, it is not surprising that that the city of Destin calls itself “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”. Destin’s breathtaking natural features and its flourishing fishing industry can be traced back through the city’s long and rich history.

Appalachian Origins

The origins of Destin’s beautiful white sand began 20,000 years ago during the end of the last Ice Age. As global temperatures began to rise, melting ice caps sent massive volumes of water into Florida’s Apalachicola River. The river rose all the way into the Appalachian Mountains, causing small quartz particles from the rock to fall into the river. These particles flowed down the Apalachicola River into the Gulf of Mexico, which is only 125 miles from present day Destin. Over time, the quartz particles came together and formed the white sand shoreline Destin’s visitors enjoy today.

Early Inhabitants

Humans began living in the Destin area as early as the seventh century A.D. Native Americans took advantage of the region’s plentiful natural resources, particularly its variety of seafood. Europeans first became aware of Destin in 1693, when Spanish explorer Don Francisco Tapia surveyed Florida’s coast as he searched for fresh water.

The Founding of Destin

The city of Destin takes its name from Captain Leonard Destin, a fisherman from New London, CT who settled the area in 1845. Captain Destin encouraged immigration to his emerging village by promising newcomers jobs in the fishing industry. Destin and his contemporaries fished close to the shore using nets, known as seines, and small boats, known as yawls. Captain Destin’s New England heritage has had a lasting impact on the region’s culture and architecture.

Destin’s East Pass

In 1926, members of the Destin, Melvin, and Marler families attempted to dig a small trench from Choctawhatchee Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. After two hours of digging, a torrent of water exploded through their manmade trench. This massive flood accidentally created Destin’s East Pass, the only waterway connecting the Bay to the Gulf in a 60 mile radius. To this day, the Army Corp of Engineers periodically dredges the East Past to maintain the waterway’s depth.

Find Out More

To learn more about Destin’s fascinating history, visit the Destin History & Fishing Museum. This great museum traces the development of Destin’s fishing industry as it evolved from 19th century seine nets all the way to the city’s present day charter fishing fleet.

When you come to see historic Destin for yourself, be sure to stay in the beautiful Henderson Park Inn. Voted the most romantic hotel in North America, this charming bed and breakfast is the only beachfront hotel in Destin. For more information on room availability and rates, give us a call at 866-398-4432.

Jason Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in history, dining, travel and tourism. In his spare time, he enjoys science fiction, breakfast food and bad puns. To read his latest vacation tips, click the Google+ follow button below!