The Emerald Coast is a beautiful expanse of white sand beaches and emerald colored seas stretching both east and west to the south of Hurlburt Field. Barrier islands, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico are all part of the Emerald Coast, which boasts beautiful beaches, warm waters, fabulous fishing and superb sunsets.
When the first nomadic Paleo-Indians arrived in the area after crossing the Bering Land Bridge into Alaska from Asia and making their way to Florida, the shoreline was actually 100 miles west of where it is today. Sea levels during that time period were much lower and the Florida climate much drier than today. Florida archaeologists have evidence of people being in the area 3,000 years ago. By 1500 A.D. people started making permanent settlements on the Emerald Coast and established temple mounds in what is now downtown Fort Walton Beach. This culture is said to have flourished for about 150 years until Europeans arrived and people were annihilated with warfare and disease. Later, Native Americans from Georgia and Alabama settled in the area until they were sent to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears.
Through the years the Emerald Coast has been claimed by Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and finally, the United States of America. Pensacola on the far western side of the Emerald Coast holds a flag festival each year to celebrate this rich heritage.
Hurricanes have also visited the area, but with modern meteorological advances there is plenty of warning time to evacuate to higher ground and safety. Also visiting the Emerald Coast are sharks (look for a blue flag on the beach) and dangerous rip tides (red flag warns of worst conditions and yellow flag is for caution). The Emerald Coast has grown to become a destination for tourists, military personnel, high-tech industry and a multitude of people enjoying the climate, cost of living and lifestyle available.