Best Florida Panhandle Snorkeling Dive Spots

Florida Panhandle has 12 snorkel dives.

Located in the USA, the snorkeling in Florida Panhandle offers over ten good snorkel dive spots. The best Florida Panhandle snorkeling based on popularity are considered to be Pensacola Beach Gulf Snorkel Reef, Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary, Destin Jetty, Pensacola Beach Bay Snorkel Reef, and Shell Island. For a detailed dive site description and printable snorkel dive map, just select a Florida Panhandle snorkeling dive below.

Featured SNORKELING SPOTS

Pensacola Beach Gulf Snorkel Reef

Southeast of Pensacola, the snorkeling at Pensacola Beach Gulf Snorkel Reef offers the chance to explore a large offshore artificial reef. The Pensacola Beach Gulf Snorkel Reef (aka Park East Snorkel Reef) was installed by the Escambia County Marine Resources Division about 500 feet offshore in 2011. This close to shore reef is located about 1.4 miles to the east of the Portofino Resort. During an artificial reef snorkeling dive off Pensacola, you may encounter a large quantity of marine life. To find the artificial reef, there are orange-tipped, range finding poles placed into the sand at the eaternmost tip of Park East, and just snorkel straight out.  MORE INFO

Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary

Southeast of Pensacola and southwest of Fort Walton Beach, the snorkeling at Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary offers three man-made reefs to explore. Two reefs are located on the sound-side and there is another reef on the gulfcoast side of Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary. The reefs are constructed from piling towers of circular discs.  MORE INFO

Destin Jetty

Southeast of Fort Walton Beach, the snorkeling at the east Destin jetty is popular for its diverse fish population. The water clarity can be up 30 feet where you can see the algae covered rocks. The Destin Jetty has an L-shaped rock formation. The water depth varies from 4 to 40 feet deep.  MORE INFO

Shell Island

Southwest of Panama City and southeast of Panama City Beach, the snorkeling at Shell Island is popular for the chance to see bottlenose dolphins. The slack tides are best for current and visibility. The best snorkeling is around the west end jetty. The sea grass beds provide habitat to starfish and pipefish.  MORE INFO

St Joseph Peninsula State Park

West of Port St Joe on Cape San Blas, the St Joseph Peninsula State Park is popular for snorkeling. The snorkeling in St Joseph Bay is good for beginners where the seasgrass shallows make good habitat for horseshoe crabs, sea turtles, lobsters and crab.  MORE INFO

Fort Pickens Jetties

Southwest of Pensacola off Santa Rosa Island, the snorkeling in the Fort Pickens area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore is popular. While snorkeling the Fort Pickens jetties, you may encounter bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and stingrays along the rocky bottom . The best time for snorkeling at Fort Pickens jetties is during slack tide two hours prior to high tide for low currents and higher visibility.  MORE INFO

Pensacola Beach Bay Snorkel Reef

Southeast of Pensacola, the snorkeling at Pensacola Beach Bay Snorkel Reef offers the chance to explore a large offshore artificial reef. The Pensacola Beach Bay Snorkel Reef (aka Park West Snorkel Reef) was installed by the Escambia County Marine Resources Division in water ranging from 7 to 10 feet deep. During an artificial reef snorkeling dive off Pensacola, you may encounter a large quantity of marine life.   MORE INFO

St Andrews Jetties

Southwest of Panama City and southeast of Panama City Beach, the snorkeling at St Andrews Jetties in St Andrews State Park is known for the easy diving. The water visibility is excellent for the region and you can expect to find diverse marine life. The jetty rocks provide habitat for colorful reef fish in 3 to 15 feet of water. While snorkeling in St Andrews State Park, keep on the watch for bottlenose dolphins. The slack tides are best for current and visibility.   MORE INFO

Deadmans Island Snorkeling Trail

South of Pensacola near Gulf Breeze, the Deadmans Island Snorkeling Trail features the natural resources and historical artifacts found in the water surrounding the island. The Deadmans snorkeling trail has six underwater educational kiosks and is maintained by the City of Gulf Breeze.  MORE INFO

Quietwater Beach

Southeast of Pensacola, the snorkeling at Quietwater Beach is ideal for children. In 2017, the Santa Rosa Island Authority, in cooperation with Escambia County, created a Childrens Snorkeling Reef at Quiet Beach Park. There are numerous informational signs to help teach kids about the aquatic marine life. There are four poles marking the corners of the designated snorkeling zone.  MORE INFO

Catherine Wreck

Southwest of Pensacola off the south side of Santa Rosa Island, there is good snorkeling around the wreck of the Catherine. This 1869 ship was nearly 200 feet long and lies in 15 feet of water about 1,000 feet offshore of Santa Rosa Island. The wreck of the Catherine is within the Gulf Islands National Seashore and is located off the west end of Santa Rosa island just offshore of Battery Langton. You may encounter bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and stingrays.  MORE INFO

Mexico Beach

Southeast of Panama City, the snorkeling at Bell Shoals off Mexico Beach is known for its artificial reef system. The water depth is roughly 20 feet deep at Bell Shoals and the artificial reef structures are 8 feet tall off the bottom. The challenge is picking a day when the visibility is good -- try after prolonged periods without rain on windless days.  MORE INFO

Travel Tips

To reach the panhandle of Florida by air, you will need to fly into either Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) or Northwest Florida Beaches Airport (ECP) north of Panama City. Since the best destinations are spread apart, a rental car is highly recommend to explore more than one location.