As the name suggests, lagoons are the centerpiece of Big Lagoon State Park, but only one is the Big Lagoon, a mirror-smooth expanse of saltwater trapped behind dunes within sight and sound of the surf of the Gulf of Mexico.
Best seen from the top of the tall observation tower, it attracts flocks of skimmers and ducks as well as anglers fishing the flats.
Address: 12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola
Fees: $4 individual, $6 carload
Restrooms: at East Beach Picnic Area and the pavilions at the observation tower
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed pets welcome except on beaches.
From Pensacola, follow SR 292 west around Pensacola Naval Air Station. At the traffic light at Gulf Beach Highway, turn left. Follow the road to the park entrance on the right.
With more than 650 acres protected along Big Lagoon, Big Lagoon State Park is about more than just the waterfront. However, many visitors flock here for that water access.
Slender beaches and gentle shallows make the lagoon shoreline a popular spot for wading, splashing, and catching fish.
Camping at Big Lagoon
The campground is at the center of the park and provides a surprising amount of habitat and terrain diversity within its loops.
Choose a site within the inner loops to be well up atop the scrub ridge. Sites along the southern edge of the campground fringe the marshes. Boardwalks connect the campground with the main recreation area and the hiking trails.
Kayaking at Big Lagoon
The primary paddler put in is accessed from the very end of the park road near the observation tower.
From here, you can explore the inner lagoons or launch out into the open waters of Big Lagoon. Be mindful that alligators can be found throughout the park, even in brackish waters.
Hiking at Big Lagoon
There are three distinct areas to hike in at Big Lagoon. As we did, you can tie them together to make one large loop.
The boardwalk leading to the observation tower, along with footpaths connecting the waterfront pavilions and boardwalks, is the most popular walking destination in the park.
Climb the tower for outstanding views across Big Lagoon to Perdido Key. The protected land on the opposite side of the lagoon is Johnson Beach, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore.
More about Big Lagoon
Big Lagoon State Park is notable for being a gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail, with a large observation tower overlooking the vast sweep of the namesake lagoon
See our video of Big Lagoon State Park
See our photos of Big Lagoon State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
As part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, the windswept tip of Perdido Key goes on for miles at Johnson Beach. Discover natural habitats and wild shores along its length
Stretching west from the tip of Perdido Key, Gulf State Park encompasses more than 6,000 acres of natural habitats on barrier islands between Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama.
With sand as white as fresh fallen snow, Perdido Key State Park offers Florida’s westernmost public beach