Santa Rosa County'sseven-mile coast is the second shortest in the state (Jefferson County's is shorter). Similar to other Panhandle counties, it is sparsely populated with only one coastal city, Gulf Breeze on Santa Rosa Island. This barrier island shelters the entire county mainland from gulf storms. Its inland side fronts Santa Rosa Sound.
Santa Rosa Island's western 3.8 miles feature Navarre Beach with beautiful white beaches and emerald green waters on the gulf and sound sides. Activities include swimming, surfing, boating, kayaking and fishing on one of the longest piers in Florida.
The eastern half is owned and operated by Eglin Air Force Base, which keeps much of the county in conservation. It is the largest military installation in the country, covering three counties - Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton. The Naval Air Station at Whiting Field is the busiest naval air station in the world with approximately 46 percent of all naval air training.
Historic Milton, one of the oldest towns in the state, is inland on the Blackwater River near East Bay. Several historic attractions in the area represent the textile, logging, sawmill and shipbuilding industrial era. Santa Rosa County has two state parks: 600-acre Blackwater River State Park with one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation and awards for the best camping, canoeing and beaches in America; and Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park, which has no recreational facilities, but has the largest community of pitcher plants in the state, offering wonderful opportunities for photographers.
Yellow River Marsh Aquatic Preserve is a vital habitat for many species and a natural flood control and filter to a 7,000-square-mile area. It encompasses thousands of acres of forested wetlands, salt and freshwater marsh, seagrass beds and portions of Blackwater Bay, East Bay and Florida's swiftest flowing river, the pristine Yellow River. It is a major recreational and commercial fishing area.
Blackwater River State Forest, "Canoe Capital of Florida," and the surrounding area boast more than a million acres of wilderness for hikers, kayakers, bird watchers, and campers.
February 10, 2020 - 1:04pm
Interested in subscribing to DEP newsletters or receiving DEP updates through email?
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.