If you want to snorkel in Florida you don’t always have to head out to the Keys! If you want to skip the crowds then there’s plenty to enjoy in the crystal clear waters of Destin, otherwise known as the ‘Emerald Coast’.
While you might not get to snorkel tropical coral reefs with brightly coloured fish here, you’ll still get to see plenty of other sea and marine life here. And named one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in America, you can guess there’ll be exceptional snorkelling in Destin, even if there might not be any rare corals.
Where: Choctawhatchee Bay Details: Not really an island but more of an underwater sandbar, the crystal clear turquoise waters of Crab Island are about waist-deep, making it the perfect spot for beginner snorkelers. Surrounding the island are beds of seagrass, home to plenty of crabs, seahorses, and fish to discover.
You can only access the island via boat (or kayak/paddleboard), so it’s not uncommon to find a lot of boats moored around the island – if that’s not your thing, be aware!
Where: East Pass Details: Surely the best spot in Destin to go snorkelling, the jetties are a hotbed for sea life. This man-made rock jetty sticks out deep into the Gulf of Mexico with waters that vary between knee height up to 16m deep. The Destin Jetties have become home to an artificial reef, housing various sea creatures from snapper and pufferfish to octopus and crabs. Go at the right time and you might even spot a sea turtle or dolphins!
Lots of parking available on site,
You can also head to this area by boat, with lots of snorkelling tours available to take you to the best spots,
Try not to visit the jetty when the tide is outgoing, as visibility will be low and there’ll be a strong current pulling you towards boat traffic.
Where: 30km west of Destin Details: A little off the beaten track, this artificial reef was established a few years ago and offers great opportunities for snorkelling with sea turtles (some people think they see a turtle every visit!) A good way away from all the boats of Destin, the reef is already home to sponges, anemones, and barnacles amongst big schools of fish, stingrays, turtles, octopus, and more!
The reef is about 90 metres from shore, so only go exploring if you’re a confident swimmer (and have fins!)
Try to visit this spot on a calm day, as the visibility can get murky pretty fast.
For detailed information on finding the reef, read the ‘Gulf Side Reef’ section of this brochure.
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