Maritime Heritage

Florida's Gulf coast boasts 770 miles of coastline with many of the most beautiful beaches located on the northwest coast, not to mention the scenic fishable rivers, streams and canals. Florida’s water resources and transportation along them have influenced many aspects of our culture. In Florida, there are both prehistoric and historic sites located offshore and in rivers and sinkholes - from submerged Native American canoes to the remains of sunken steamboats and schooners.

Some of Florida’s most impressive maritime sites date from the Colonial Period, such as two ships from the first colonization attempt by Spaniard Tristán de Luna, today known as the Emanuel Point Shipwrecks located just off shore in Pensacola Bay.  The site is the oldest European shipwreck known in Florida and the second oldest in the United States.

Lighthouses are another reminder that Florida’s history and development has been guided by the determination of seafarers and those brave enough to face the uncertainty of the sea.  Learn more about the vital importance of these beacons for northwest Florida history by visiting one of the many preserved lighthouses and museums.

Find out more about one of Florida’s shipwreck trails today:  1733 Spanish Galleon Trail, Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail, Museums in the Sea, Maritime Heritage Trail.

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Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail

The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail consists of 12 unique shipwrecks along Florida’s Panhandle, situated offshore of Pensacola, Destin, Panama City, and Port St. Joe. As you plan... Read More

Region: Northwest

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Florida's Museums in the Sea

Florida's Museums in the Sea is an interactive site where you can dive into the maritime history of Florida, exploring sunken ships and artificial reefs without ever getting wet! ... Read More

Region: Northwest

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St. Marks Lighthouse

Constructed in 1842 to replace an earlier 1831 structure which was threatened by erosion, the St. Marks Lighthouse is located at the mouth of the St. Marks River on Apalachee Bay. After... Read More

Region: Northwest

County: Wakulla

City: St. Marks

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Man in the Sea Museum

The Man in the Sea Museum illustrates early attempts to work underwater through interpretive drawings, dioramas and written records. The large collection of rare diving equipment highlights... Read More

Region: Northwest

County: Bay

City: Panama City Beach

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Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum

In the spring of 1861, Confederate authorities dismantled and removed the first-order Fresnel lens from the 1859 Pensacola Lighthouse. During the Union bombardment of Pensacola in November... Read More

Region: Northwest

County: Escambia

City: Pensacola

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Destin History and Fishing Museum

Destin History & Fishing Museum celebrates and documents the history of Destin. The history of the early settlers and the fishing industry come alive thru displays, exhibits, and... Read More

Region: Northwest

County: Okaloosa

City: Destin

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Crooked River Lighthouse

For 116 years the Crooked River Lighthouse has stood as a beacon, guiding timber ships as well as local fishermen and oystermen through the treacherous pass between Dog and St.... Read More

Region: Northwest

County: Franklin

City: Carrabelle

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Cape San Blas Lighthouse

In 1847 Congress appropriated $8,000 for a lighthouse. Two years later a conical brick tower was completed. The signal from the 85-foot high structure could be seen for 10 miles offshore.... Read More

Region: Northwest

County: Gulf

City: Port St. Joe

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Cape St. George Lighthouse

The Cape St. George Lighthouse first stood at the southern-most tip of “Little” St. George Island in the Gulf of Mexico. The island is 8 miles offshore of Apalachicola in the Florida... Read More

Region: Northwest

County: Franklin

City: St. George Island

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Camp Gordon Johnston Museum

Operated by the Camp Gordon Johnston Association, the museum exhibits U.S. Army artifacts, photographs related to camp activities and the base newspaper, The Amphibian.

Region: Northwest

County: Franklin

City: Carrabelle

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