Hotel at a Glance: Portofino Island Resort
Portofino Island Resort lies right on the white sand of Pensacola Beach, a thin barrier island that stretches for miles along the coast of northwest Florida. Naturally, it’s popular to spend the day on the beach; head a few steps north to check out the beaches along Santa Rosa Sound or south to spend some time along the Gulf Coast. But the Mediterranean-style resort also has seven outdoor pools, including centrally located infinity pools, as well as an indoor Olympic-style pool.
- Fun in the sun: Kayak, paddleboard, and surfboard rentals are available onsite at Adventure Beach.
- Feast on Gulf seafood: The resort’s restaurant, Terracotta, serves Andouille-crusted grouper and the 17 Mile fresh catch of the day.
- Spacious condos: Two- and three-bedroom sky homes feature gourmet kitchens and private balconies with views of the gulf or bay.
- Book a spa day: Spa Portofino offers treatments such as organic body wraps, anti-aging facials, and massages.
Pensacola Beach, Florida: Iconic Water View Towers and Protected White-Sand Beaches
The first thing most visitors notice when they cross the bridge to Pensacola Beach isn’t the bright-white sands or the azure waters, though the barrier island has copious amounts of both. Instead, what catches most eyes is a water tower painted like a giant beach ball. This symbol of Pensacola Beach sits near the end of the bridge, alongside one of the island’s most popular spots: Casino Beach. Here, you’ll find open-air seafood restaurants, a wooden boardwalk lined with boutiques and gift shops, and a long fishing pier where you can often catch glimpses of dolphins, manatees, and rays.
A short drive west along the coast brings you to Gulf Islands National Seashore, part of a 12-unit park spread across Florida and Mississippi. These protected beaches are usually less crowded since they’re off the beaten path and offer fewer amenities than the island’s other sands. While you’re here, check out the circa-1830s Fort Pickens, one of only four forts in the South never occupied by Confederate troops.