Bay’s {re}View: Pensacola Dog Beach East & West

This week on Bay’s {re}View, we’re diving into the sandy dunes on Pensacola’s dog-friendly beaches. Yes, Pensacola boasts not one but two designated areas where you and your furry friend can enjoy the beach life together. But here’s my hot take: I don’t recommend them! Shocking, I know, but hear me out.

Pensacola Dog Beach East and Pensacola Dog Beach West, while beautiful, are actually quite small (maybe about a 100yrds long) and require your dog to be on an 8-foot or shorter leash at all times, even in the water. So if you’re dreaming of letting Fido run free and play fetch, that’s not really possible here. If your primary reason for visiting Pensacola Beach is for your pooch, there are off-leash options elsewhere.

According to the Escambia County Ordinance, Sec. 10-25: “All dogs shall be prohibited from roaming freely within the boundaries of the park. Each dog must be fastened to a suitable leash of dependable strength not to exceed eight feet in length, and the leash must be held at all times by the person maintaining supervision and control over the dog.”

Ever tried playing fetch with a Great Dane on an 8-foot leash? Trust me, it’s not pretty for anyone involved. On the rare occasions I take my pups to these beaches it’s usually to meet up with some of our other pooch pals and even then we just manage a quick sniff around, a little tug session, and maybe a brief dig before calling it a day. If your dog loves to swim or will lay and relax while you sunbathe, it might be more enjoyable. But for Bay that easy beach chair life is not her jam, she needs constant action!

dog on pensacola dog beach
Yes, she was on a leash! I’m a magician in post processing leash removal.

You might think, “Well, Jess, who’s going to enforce these rules?” And it’s true some people ignore them and may even get away with it. But fair warning Animal Control does patrol the beach and can issue citations ranging from $50 to $500. They usually give a warning first, but I’ve seen tickets issued and people asked to leave. I’ve actually had a patrol officer stop me because my leash was too long (it was 15-foot, not 8-foot). Since I frequent the beach weekly for photo sessions, I’ve noticed an increased presence of Animal Control in 2024.

I’m not trying to discourage a visit to these beautiful beaches & think every pup should visit at least once but want to set the right expectations. Despite the on leash rule these beaches are very popular and busy all day so maybe the leash restriction isn’t a concern for most, especially those that ignore the rule anyway. But Bay’s {re}View is all about giving you an honest experience! So now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s talk about beach safety:

  • The sand gets extremely hot in the summer, so do a temperature check before letting your pup walk on it. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.
  • There are no shaded areas on these dog beaches, so bring a tent or umbrella to protect your pup from the sun, heat stroke in dogs can come on quick.
  • They also make dog safe sunscreen so I would recommend looking into that as well to protect that delicate skin.
  • Bring plenty of fresh water—at least a gallon or two, depending on your dog’s size and how long you plan to stay. Drinking saltwater can make them sick – or worse.
  • If playing fetch in the water, try to prevent them from swallowing too much water as even small amounts can be harmful.
  • Keep them on a leash while swimming for safety, as rip currents can be dangerous for dogs too.
  • Fill in any holes your pup may dig. It is a hazard to others and area wildlife.
  • And as always, pick up their poo. Dog feces can be harmful to the aquatic wildlife.

Overall, as a dog “park”, we give Pensacola Dog Beach East and West two paws up. In addition to fun in the sun, it also has free parking, poop stations, and port-a-potties for your convenience. But there are better options for a true dog adventure. And if you are here on vacation be sure to check out our local dog event planners, WolgGang Pensacola as they host dog friendly events almost weekly!

2 paw review for pensacola dog beaches

So how does it stack up for fur family photography?

Now, here’s the twist: Pensacola Dog Beaches are my absolute favorite for photo sessions! The breathtaking coastal beauty is unbeatable. I schedule all my sessions at sunrise or sunset to avoid the midday heat, the crowds, and to capture the stunning light. The on-leash rule isn’t a problem as I can edit out leashes in post-production, even for action shots. Check out some cuties enjoying the beach below.

So, while you may not get the off-leash freedom you hoped for, a professional photo session at Pensacola’s dog beaches could be the perfect souvenir. Imagine capturing those beautiful moments with your dog against the backdrop of a stunning sunrise or sunset. It’s a memory you’ll cherish forever!

Until next week, wags & wiggles,
Jess & Bay

review of pensacola dog beach east and west