Pensacola’s Best Eco-Tourism Opportunities


Bethany Roberts, Staff Writer

Pensacola is home to some of the most beautiful outdoor locals in Florida. With its white sandy beaches, hiking trails, rivers, and more, Pensacola has something for everyone. As someone who loves the outdoors, I am excited to highlight some of the best ecotourism places in this lovely city.

Perhaps the most popular place to visit is the Gulf Islands National Seashore. This seashore is the longest stretch of federally protected seashore in the United States! Coming in at 52 miles, the Gulf Islands National Seashore offers a variety of fun activities.

Whether you enjoy swimming, kayaking, bike riding, or just lazing around in the sun, you can do it here. There is even the option of programs led by park rangers, for those who would prefer not to wander around in unfamiliar territory without a sure way to get back.

The next place in Pensacola that provides an outdoor escape is Big Lagoon State Park. This beautiful lagoon is one of the best places to go for wildlife watchers! It is a way to experience the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail firsthand. Since Big Lagoon has natural marshes and pine flatwoods, it attracts a wide variety of birds.

According to the Florida State Parks website, Big Lagoon is “a stopover for more than 23 species of wood-warbler and a variety of ducks, sandpipers and black-bellied plovers.” So, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars with you for when you visit! There are also campsites available, with great access to the shoreline and the start of many trails.

If you are into unique and/or rare activities, Pensacola offers Condor sailing trips at Condor Sailing Adventures! Condor racing trimarans are a rare type of sailboat (Only 21 of them were ever made). 

These sailboats are one of the best types for casual sailing because they are known for their lack of leaning. This means there is a low risk of getting seasick. The sailing adventure offers a 40ft long, 28ft wide trimaran and is the perfect way to explore Pensacola’s waters. 

Up next: The Great Carrier Reef. In 2006, the U.S.S Oriskany (a 911 foot aircraft carrier) was sunk off the coast of Pensacola, making it the “ world’s largest intentionally-created artificial reef” according to Dive Pros’ website. 

Nicknamed the Great Carrier Reef, this artificial reef lies in 212’ of water, with the top of the carrier at 84’. While this dive is usually for more experienced divers, you can talk to your dive staff about how far down you feel comfortable going. 

Another beautiful state park that the Pensacola area offers is Perdido Key! It is a 247-acre barrier island. Not only a beautiful beach, but it also is one of the best places to go to collect shells, sea glass, and other oceanic treasures. 

Perdido Key is also known for the Perdido Key Beach Mouse, an endangered species. In fact, you could catch a glimpse of several threatened and endangered species at Perdido Key- from nesting sea turtles to nesting shorebirds.

And last but not least, walking tours. Pensacola has The most amazing history. There are several tours available in downtown Pensacola, from the Colonial Archaeological Trail to the Pensacola Maritime Trail.

Each walking tour offers something unique. If you choose to walk the archaeological trail, you get to experience the city’s rich history, including seeing part of the Fort George site. The maritime trail showcases the other side of Pensacola’s history. According to Explore Pensacola, on this walking tour you will learn about “Native Americans, Spanish Exploration, Industry of the Port, 18th Century Pensacola and more.”

These are just a few of the wonderful adventures Pensacola has to offer. Whether you are in town for the week, attend the university, or are a local, you should definitely take the time to explore the stunning landscape and wildlife that surrounds you!