Pensacola Beach outlines the Santa Rosa barrier island and offers visitors two very different beach experiences. On the Gulf side, visitors are treated to unparalleled Gulf Coast views, as well as a powdery white shoreline and emerald waters. The soft sands that ribbon the Santa Rosa Sound side of the island are popular among families since they offer gentle waves and access to a boardwalk filled with fun shops and restaurants.
Pensacola is nicknamed "The City of Five Flags" due to the five governments that have flown flags over it during its history: the flags of Spain (Castile), France, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America, and the United States. Other nicknames include "World's Whitest Beaches" (due to the white sand prevalent along beaches in the Florida panhandle), "Cradle of Naval Aviation", "Western Gate to the Sunshine State", "America's First Settlement", "Emerald Coast", "Redneck Riviera", "Red Snapper Capital of the World", and "P-Cola"
The original inhabitants of the Pensacola Bay area were Native American peoples. At the time of European contact, a Muskogean-speaking tribe known to the Spanish as the Pensacola lived in the region. This name was not recorded until 1677, but the tribe appears to be the source of the name "Pensacola" for the bay and thence the city. Creek people, also Muskogean-speaking, came regularly from present-day southern Alabama to trade, so the peoples were part of a broader regional and even continental network of relations.