Happy to have this guest post by Dawn on Hurlburt Field AFB in Florida. Please visit my Duty station guest post page for posts on other locations or more information about how you can write a guest post about where you have been stationed.
Hurlburt Field AFB, Florida
The Florida Gulf Coast, or more lovely referred to as “Red Neck Hawaii” or “Red Neck Riviera” is home to Hurlburt Field and Eglin AFB. If you look at a map, the bases appeared to be joined but in reality, they function as two completely separate bases. Eglin AFB is the largest Air Force Base in the world and that doesn’t even include Hurlburt Field.
You’ll find all the same services on both bases, which is nice. But of course, with the size of Eglin comes a few more conveniences, like longer operating hours.
If you are looking for service on Hurlburt, there is this amazing app the base has created to help you get around and find all the contact information you are looking for. It’s called 1 SOW- Hurlburt Field AFB from GLIP Inc. A must have if you are new and come to Hurlburt Field for the first time. I recommend this for both you and your spouse. I haven’t seen it at any other base and we love having everything right on our phone for easy access. Available for Android and IOS!
Places to Live
Where to live is another important question everyone wants to know about! If you’re going to be stationed at Hurlburt, there are a few areas you’ll want to stick around. Assuming a 30-minute commute, the east Side of Gulf Breeze is the furthest you’ll want to go east. If you want to go west, the northwest tip of Okaloosa Island is the furthest you’ll want to go. 98 really is the biggest limiter in commute because the traffic gets pretty rough. About once a week there’s an accident on that road and most routes to and from really depend on 98.
Mary Esther and Fort Walton Beach are both super close to base. But you will definitely pay a premium for those houses. The area is well established and there aren’t a lot of new houses going up. And there hasn’t been for probably 30 years. That has some perks, of course: The landscaping is mature, the community has plenty of build up and you’re never too far from anything you need. The down side there is that the schools aren’t the best. But they do have a few private schools if you fall in love with the area. Okaloosa Island is absolutely gorgeous! The houses there definitely reflect that in their price, though. And getting any kind of land is basically unheard of. If you want a nice condo, though, this is DEFINITELY where you want to start looking! Be aware that during tourist season, though, you’re going to hate everything.
Navarre and East Gulf Breeze are relatively new communities, which means you’ll get newer houses. And they’re cheaper than older houses, too! You’re going to enjoy the beauty of Navarre beach without as much tourist traffic. The schools are highly rated and the area is nice and relatively quiet. But it definitely has a “middle of nowhere” vibe. You’re not going to have all the luxuries, but hey, at least there’s a Wal-Mart! If you need more shopping choices, you can always drive East to Fort Walton where you’ll find the Santa Rosa mall and lots of other smaller shopping complexes. If you want to more choices, I recommend the Cordova Mall in Pensacola or the outdoor shopping at Destin’s Commons. If you are looking for big brand shopping at low prices,
there is always Silver Sand’s Premium Outlet Mall in Destin. It’s worth the drive every couple of months.
Great Places to Eat
While you’re here, you’re going to want to eat. So where do you go? I’m going to give you some of my favorites for you to try while you’re here. If you try nothing else on my list, you must go to: McGuires Irish Pub. With two great locations in Pensacola and Destin, there really is no excuse for you to miss this experience. Irish pub grub delivered with ales brewed in copper kettles, plus live music most nights. You won’t be disappointed. Be sure to try the Split pea soup, you’ll thank me later! Keep in mind that this is THE tourist spot, though, and plan to eat at off-peak times or plan for a wait. But there’s a reason everyone wants to eat here, I promise it’s worth it!
Some of my other favorites in the area:
I know what you are really interested in, though: THE BEACH! If you’ve never seen the beaches of the Florida panhandle, you are missing out. The white sand and crystal clear water make them some of the most beautiful beaches in the country! The best part is you have your choice on which beach you want to go to; and they are all free.
So if you want to head to the beaches with more amenities (Destin or Pensacola) you can go in the off-season. I live in Navarre and I am 2 miles away from the beach. Navarre Beach is my favorite both for the close proximity to my house and how peaceful it is; even during tourist season it’s still not too over crowded. You have to take a bridge over the sound to get to the beach area, but on the corner of 98 and the Navarre Bridge is a playground that you can take your kids to for a picnic or just to enjoy the playground and splash pad.
It’s also really nice to have both the sound and the beach to choose from. This way if you want calmer waters for taking a boat or kayak out, you don’t have to put it in the ocean. We also venture over to Pensacola beach area from time to time because they have a dog friendly beach there and we love to bring out Toy Poodle, Leo, whenever we get the chance.
If you are a beach lover and enjoy warm weather all year round, Hurlburt Field AFB in Florida is a great place to live. People come from all over the country just to be here for a week and well, you get to live here. How lucky are you? I’m so grateful to be stationed here. Small town charm with a vacation feel atmosphere. It doesn’t get any better.
Dawn Zangerle is the Owner and Operator of The Divine Life Blog. She is a former singer and actress from NYC. She is now resides in Navarre, FL with her husband, Evan, who is a Capt. in the USAF. She’s been a military spouse for 9 years and is currently trying to start her family with the help of IVF.