With the Fourth of July holiday just days away, Destin Marina is already gearing up for an active weekend.
"We’re planning on a busy weekend," said Chris White, owner of Destin Marina. "... Every weekend since everything opened back up (has) been like a holiday. It’s been crazy busy. And I’m expecting a good weekend if the weather holds up."
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Destin Marina, located on the north side of the Destin bridge, just off Calhoun Avenue, is easy access to the popular Crab Island as well as Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
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"There’s quite a few people who come here," White said, just to get over to Crab Island.
"It used to be a lot of fishermen, but I’d say it’s more Crab Island-based now," he said, noting they still have all the bait and tackle for the fishermen.
The marina shut down in mid-March like most things in Destin due to the coronavirus and operated some weekends on a limited basis. But on May 1, the marina opened back up seven days a week.
And since opening back up, busy is the word.
"We definitely need it," White said, noting they are still down having lost so many weeks of business. "But it’s definitely helped to be busy every weekend and the weather has been great, so you can’t complain."
Earlier this year, Destin Marina cleared out the "beyond repair" mobile homes that used to line the roadway down to the marina. In doing so, they have more than doubled their parking.
White said they can now park roughly 50 trucks and trailers as well as an additional 50 to 75 cars.
"It’s nice up there, it turned out good and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback on it," he said.
White said he anticipates launching 100 to 125 boats each day over the holiday weekend.
"Of course we can’t park that many, but a lot of people just come in and drop it and take their trailer elsewhere," he said.
And to handle the many boaters, White said he’ll extra man-power on hand, but still encourages folks to get their early and be ready.
The marina opens at 6:30 a.m. daily.
"Typically, we’re out of parking by 10 o’clock on a holiday," White said. "Get up and get ready and be ready when you get here (to not hold up the line)."
A boat launch cost $20, which includes the vehicle and trailer parking for the day.
If you’re looking to launch a kayak or even a paddleboard, the cost is $10, which includes a parking spot for the day.
White said they have definitely seen an increase in kayakers and folks on paddleboards, since the beach on the west side of Destin bridge was shut down.
The marina also offers parking for an additional vehicle at $5.
And if you’re looking to stay a while, they also have a few boat slip rentals for $25 per day, which are available on a first come, first serve basis.
The marina also has fuel, ice, snacks and drinks.
As for the weekend ahead, White said, "fingers crossed that the weather holds out and we’ll have a good weekend."