I miss Pensacola. Easily the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to, and I used to go every year, sometimes twice a year. The sand is a pristine white, with really fine grains (that get everywhere, haha), and the water is a beautiful aquamarine.
The public beach was always packed, but if you payed $20 you had access to Gulf Island Seashore, which is a national wildlife refuge (sort of like a national park). One Memorial Day Weekend we saw half a dozen cars pull up to the booth, realize they had to pay, then turn around and leave. Fantastic. Keep your poor, trashy asses out.
Once you get to the parking lot you realize most people don’t stray too far from their cars. But walk 1/4 mile in either direction and it’s basically empty. Families stay in the more crowded spots because kids don’t care and I guess it’s too hard to walk that far.
The truck is to pack smartly so you can lug everything in a single trip. Don’t bring more than you need, have a lightweight shade solution, watch how much food you bring, and so on. It’s like a hiking trip in that regard.
My wife and I would stay in a hotel on Friday, get to the beach early on Saturday, set up, go for a stroll, look for sea shells, watch wildlife (fish, turtles, various types of crabs, birds, jelly fish), swim, have lunch, read, play games (they have to be wind proof), fly kites, build a sand castle (kind of lol)... we’d fish when the sun was setting, then gig flounder when it was dark enough. Max comfy.