The Florida Panhandle: Your ignorance is showing! It’s okay though…well, at least it’s okay with us here at It isn’t, however, with a lot of locals. Because they understand that there are subtle differences in geographic terms…and they also believe in things being called by certain titles for a reason. In addition, they are proud of where they live and really don’t want to be associated with certain other places.

No worries. We’re here to help. So If you want to be all about that “Salt Life” or #BeachLife, you should learn the local’s lingo and use it properly. 

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “what in the Heck are you going on about?”  Keep reading.

Not sure if you are aware or not, and admittedly it might seem as if we’re splitting hairs, but there is a difference between an ocean and a gulf. As subtle and trivial as it may seem, It is a HUGE pet peeve among locals when the two are confused with one another.

Google Defines a Gulf as Such:

Gulf: /ɡəlf/ 1. a deep inlet of the sea almost surrounded by land, with a narrow mouth.
synonyms: inlet, creek, bight, fjord, estuary, sound, arm of the sea; 

When I took college Geography (I can’t believe I actually remember this), the definition was a large body of water surrounded on three sides by land. Part of me thinks that the new definition above was updated with the words “of the sea” by some butthurt tourist who lost an argument with a local when said tourist called it an ocean or sea…but I have an active imagination…which is fun. Anyway…

If you ever join one of the panhandle beaches Facebook groups and ask the question about how far something is from the ocean, you’re going to have at least one person, but probably 47… respond with,  “Approximately 300 some odd miles.” Because technically, the closest ocean to PCB or Santa Rosa Beach or Destin is exactly that, 300 some odd miles.

At first, you’ll be confused and think or even reply with, “Wait! The website said it was supposed to be close to the beach?”

First of all, if you’re on the website, then why are you asking a bunch of random strangers about things that should be on that site?  And B, Yes, yes it is close to the beach…but there is no ocean touching the beaches of the panhandle. That body of water is called a Gulf.

Now you know.

InfoGraphic Courtesy of former Long Time Local, Steven Burnett