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  • Writer's pictureDerek Sirois

The History of Destin's East Pass

Updated: Mar 17

The East Pass is a scenic waterway in Destin, Florida that connects the Choctawhatchee Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The pass has a rich history, dating back centuries to the time when Native Americans used it as a trade route. Since then, the East Pass has played a vital role in the economic and recreational activities of the area. In this blog post, we'll explore the history of the East Pass and its importance to the local community.

Native American Trade Route

The East Pass was first used by the Native Americans as a trade route between the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The pass was an essential part of their transportation system, as they used canoes to travel through it. The Native Americans also used the pass to access the abundant seafood and marine life in the area, which played a vital role in their diet.

Spanish Exploration

In the late 16th century, Spanish explorers arrived in the area and discovered the East Pass. They recognized its strategic location and used it as a base for their expeditions to the Gulf of Mexico. The Spanish established a settlement at the mouth of the pass, which they called "Destin" after Captain Leonard Destin, who later became one of the first permanent settlers in the area.

Fishing Industry

In the late 1800s, the fishing industry began to flourish in Destin, and the East Pass played a vital role in its growth. The pass provided easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, where fishermen could catch a variety of fish and seafood. The pass was also a convenient location for the processing and packaging of the catch, which was then shipped to markets across the country.

Military Use

During World War II, the East Pass was used by the military as a training area for naval vessels. The pass provided a safe and protected area for the training of troops and the testing of new equipment. The military also used the area for the development of sonar technology, which was critical in detecting enemy submarines.


In the 1950s, Destin began to attract tourists, drawn to its beautiful beaches and clear waters. The East Pass became a popular spot for boating and fishing, and local businesses began to offer charters and rentals. Today, the East Pass is a major attraction for visitors to the area, with its stunning views, abundant marine life, and water activities.


The East Pass in Destin, Florida, has a rich history that spans centuries. From its origins as a Native American trade route to its role in the fishing industry and military training, the pass has played a vital role in the economic and recreational activities of the area. Today, the East Pass is a popular destination for tourists, drawn to its scenic beauty and water activities. Whether you're a history buff or a beachgoer, the East Pass is a must-see attraction in Destin.

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