Pensacola Bay is one of the largest bays in Florida, and it helps to comprise an even larger bay system that also includes the Santa Rosa Sound, Escambia Bay, East Bay, and Blackwater Bay. Situated on the shores of this bay system are enticing beaches, but they aren't the only attractions of interest that are on or near the water. Of course, the water itself is a main attraction and provides numerous activity options.
Pensacola Bay can be found at the far western end of the Florida Panhandle. In fact, part of the larger Pensacola Bay system is actually in neighboring Alabama. As for the Pensacola Bay itself, it is approximately thirteen miles long and around two and a half miles wide. Crossing it is the Pensacola Bay Bridge, which links Pensacola to the smaller city of Gulf Breeze. Pensacola is located on the western shores of Pensacola Bay and is the largest city in the area.
Among the attractions that can be found in and around Pensacola Bay is Fort Pickens. As is true of other US military installations from the era, this historic fort was built after the War of 1812 and helped the US protect its ports against outside invasion. Also found overlooking Pensacola Bay are the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Pensacola Lighthouse.
There are many reasons why travelers are attracted to Pensacola Bay and the surrounding area. One of them has to do with the fact that part of this body of water is closed off by the Gulf Islands National Seashore. This preserve offers a wide range of recreational activity options and beaches. On the bay itself, fishing is among the most popular things to do, and you can always arrange boating excursions. Dinner cruises are among the options, as are dolphin cruises, as are scuba diving or snorkeling outings. Regardless of the kind of cruise that you decide to enjoy, general sightseeing will be part of the deal.
Pensacola Beach is one of the best places to arrange boating adventures that take to the Pensacola Bay waters. Also, in nearby Gulf Breeze, you can find a dive shop right on the water. Other dive shops can also be found on or near the water in Pensacola and other area communities. Gear for diving, snorkeling, and fishing is most often provided by the local tour operators, and coolers full of ice are usually available for guests to take advantage of.
Some of the best Pensacola hotels can be found on or near the waters of Pensacola Bay, and they include downtown establishments such as the Residence Inn Pensacola Downtown and the Courtyard Pensacola Downtown. The New World Inn, which is one of the best boutique hotels in Pensacola, can also be found downtown near the water, so you might keep it in mind as well when looking to stay in the city. If you have something cheaper in mind and want to stay outside of Pensacola proper, then something like the Bay Beach Inn in Gulf Breeze might be preferable.
Top image: rampartgeneral (flickr)