Close this search box.

Sandestin® celebrates 50 years as premier beach resort, along with its rich history

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort® is marking a major milestone as it celebrates its 50th anniversary as a leading resort destination in Northwest Florida. The year-long celebration will feature new experiences, […]

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort® is marking a major milestone as it celebrates its 50th anniversary as a leading resort destination in Northwest Florida. The year-long celebration will feature new experiences, special surprises for guests, and throwbacks on social media and memory lane.

The resort has a rich history, starting with its original purpose as a farm for crops and livestock. During World War II, the military requisitioned a large portion of the Gulf side property to research captured “Buzz Bomb” missiles from the Germans. 

  • According to Sandestin, the very first military use of American rockets was also tested and launched over the Gulf from top secret hidden bunkers located on the resort that can still be seen today, if you know where to look

In the 1950s, the land was sold to Winthrop Rockefeller, who later became the Governor of Arkansas, but his plans to develop the land into a coastal neighborhood were ultimately derailed. Walt Disney almost purchased the land in the 1950s for a proposed “Disney World,” but his plans ultimately moved further south. 

In the 1970s, developers with a vision of building a resort community borrowed the “San” from the unincorporated area known as Santa Rosa Beach to the east and mashed it together with “Destin” to the west. Sandestin® was formed in 1973, and its first golf course, The Links, was completed the following year, along with residential neighborhoods and a hotel on the bay, now known as Bayside at Sandestin®.

In the early 1980s, the marina, Baytowne Golf Course, and a beachside high rise were completed, and soon after, The Beach Boys performed right out on the sand for some 12,000 lucky attendees. The 1990s brought immense growth with the completion of restaurants like the popular Marina Bar and Grill, a professional Tennis Club, more distinct neighborhoods, as well as the prestigious Burnt Pine Golf Course.

  • The private Burnt Pine gated community within the Sandestin® gates soon followed, both named after a forest fire that had occurred in a portion of the woods a few years prior. 
  • The Village of Baytowne Wharf also went into development and is now the town center of Sandestin®, filled with festive restaurants, world-class shopping, activities, and annual events.

Local news sent to your inbox 🤝

Thousands of locals read our newsletter every morning! It’s FREE and makes sure that you never miss important local updates.

In 2003, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic launched with awards totaling $371,000, when a group from Galati Yacht Sales and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort® decided it was time to bring a big money tournament back to the Destin area. Total cash and awards totaled nearly $2 million in 2022, according to Sandestin.

The Sandestin Foundation for Kids was founded in 2011 by the owners of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort®, the Becnel Family. The structure of the organization allows for funds to be gifted to children and families quickly in the event of a tragedy. Sandestin says that the goal is to provide support immediately, when it is needed most, to children throughout the community and abroad.

  • Osprey Pointe luxury condominiums welcomed their first guests in 2020, followed by the opening of Hotel Effie Sandestin, the resort’s 250-room hotel, in 2021.

Today, Sandestin® is now home to seventy individual neighborhoods with full-time residents and thousands of lodging options that span the 2,400-acre expanse between the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. 

When asked about the success of this journey, Sara Becnel, Asset Manager and Vice President of Development shared, “The secret of the Sandestin experience is in the intentional details, smiles, commitment to service, memories passed down from generation to generation, dedication, and a lot of hard work.” Becnel continued, “We have not simply remained relevant, but have led the tourism experience for guests through a balance of tradition and innovation.”

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort® has come a long way in its five decades of existence, and has big plans for this year’s celebrations. The resort is already inviting guests to capture their #sandestin50 memories by participating in Instagram-worthy photobooth pop-ups, regularly updated and themed for each season of the year. 

  • A special edition refillable cup is also available for purchase at Sandestin® retail and food & beverage outlets for $25. After purchasing the cup, guests can enjoy free soft drink refills for the rest of the year at participating Sandestin® food and beverage outlets.

On March 17, 2023, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the resort will launch four signature beers at its food and beverage outlets. Sandestin® beers include a blond ale, sour ale, pale ale, and a lager. A signature wine is also in development. 

Collectors-edition branded merchandise, including Sandestin-Opoly, will launch later this year, and guests can visit for celebration updates and historical timelines.

Join the conversation...

Continue reading 👇

Community Comments

“Agreed…that was our favorite spot for locals to go…under the Marler bridge…to swim and watch the boat traffic. Was beautiful!”
“I have heard this before but without the details. Thanks.”
“That was a good story it brought back a lot of good memories. I lived there about 35 years ago met some good people ate a lot of good food...”
“Please open our bridge under neath the Destin bridge please we grew up here only for the locals this is crazy honestly the locals really have Nowhere they can go...”
“We must do whatever it takes to remove the current sheriff. He is a failed leader, no doubt about it nothing but an excuse maker, totally incompetent in over his...”
“...and food for enjoyment! Big smile.”
“can okaloosa county residents can get a year pass for henderson beach park?”
“Congratulations on giving back to your community. This is an awesome need when young people are returning to school. Blessings over blessings to you this upcoming season.”
“I’m not at all a sociallist or liberal. I just want safety for myself and others. Ron Desantis pledged money for this. I was refrencing Europe in regards to e-bike...”