Snorkelers of all ages can find exactly what they are looking for in Destin Florida. Located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin has gorgeous beaches, crystal clear water, opportunities to see plenty of marine life, including crab, sea horses, and sea turtles.
But where is the best snorkeling and is there anything special you need to know, bring, or prepare for? If it’s answers you seek, you’ve come to the right place!
Here’s what you need to know about snorkeling in Destin Florida.
Snorkeling in Destin Florida: What to Know
Does Destin Florida Have Good Snorkeling?
Yes! Destin is home to some excellent snorkeling. Destin is in Northwest Florida, on the gulf coast, just west of Panama City Beach and east of Pensacola. This means white sand and clear blue water.
Historically, Destin was founded as a fishing village, which means, you guessed it, marine wildlife!
Depending on the tides, and where you snorkel, visibility can be anywhere from 20 to 80 feet.
Are There Coral Reefs In Destin Florida?
Destin has artificial reefs. These reefs have been made by humans to promote the growth and regeneration of marine life.
Most of these reefs can be found near public beaches (around 250 to 300 yards offshore) so they are not hard to find and are very easy to visit.
People often snorkel around the reefs. And given that they are so close to shore, they make the perfect snorkel spot for the whole family.
The South Walton Artificial Reef Association has a map indicating where you can find all of the artificial reef locations. Snorkeling reefs are marked on the map with the letter “S.” The association recommends bringing a flotation device, kayak, or paddleboard with you to the snorkel reefs so you have support should the water conditions change rapidly.
Are There Sharks in Destin Florida?
While sharks are known to make an appearance around Destin, shark sightings are quite rare and shark attacks even more so.
They do sometimes appear near Crab Island but they are not the behemoth Jaws monster variety. If you do see a shark, it is likely to be a small, less threatening, blacktip reef shark, bonnethead shark, or bull shark.
Even with minimal risk, it pays to be attentive to your surroundings, adhere to shark warnings, snorkel during the day, and avoid wearing bright or reflective clothing.
What Is There to Do in Destin Florida?
Aside from snorkeling, there’s lots to do in Destin. You can visit the Destin Harbor Boardwalk where you will find fabulous restaurants and shops. You can head back out on the water by booking a dolphin tour or maybe a romantic sunset cruise.
There is lots to keep you occupied in and around your snorkel adventure.
Top Spots for Snorkeling in Destin Florida
Now that you know a little more about snorkeling in Destin Fl, it’s time to learn where to snorkel!
This list will help you plan your visit.
Where Can I Snorkel For Free in Destin Florida?
The good news is that there are many places to snorkel for free in Destin. You can certainly book snorkel tours or a snorkel guide but if you are more the “choose your own adventure type,” you are in luck.
The only thing to watch out for is private beaches. Many beaches in the area are privately owned or belong to waterfront hotels and resorts. If you are unsure, ask before getting in the water. Better safe than sorry!
Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park is an incredible place to spend a day. This state park was established to protect the area’s natural features and it is the last coastal scrub area in Destin. With gorgeous 30-foot sand dunes and a mile of undisturbed beach, there is plenty to see both in and out of the water.
Henderson Beach is a nesting area for the loggerhead sea turtle so keep your eyes peeled! Just remember, they are a protected animal if you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse, do not approach or disturb them in any way.
Found near the Destin Jetty, Norriego Point is a small peninsula surrounded by soft sand that attracts a variety of fish and marine life.
If you have young children, are not a great swimmer, or are new to snorkeling, this is a great spot for you! The water is typically quite calm and because the waters here are protected, there are no boats or fishermen zipping around the area.
East Pass Jetty
The East Jetty is a man-made stone structure that was created to minimize and prevent tidal sand erosion in the East Pass, connecting the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
The rocks have become something of a reef-like structure, attracting many different creatures! Here, snorkelers can see sheepshead, snapper, redfish, occasionally barracuda, hermit crab, and even octopuses.
Be aware that this is a popular snorkel spot so it may be a little crowded from time to time. The ideal time to go, in terms of snorkeling conditions, is slack high tide. This is when you will find the best visibility and the calmest currents.
If the coastal waters are choppy, or you’re looking for a completely different sort of snorkel experience, get wet in one of Destin’s dune lakes.
These dune lakes are a natural occurrence that is found in only a few other locations, like New Zealand, Australia, and Madagascar. The lakes are believed to be over 10,000 years old and were created by the winds by shifting sands that formed the lake basins. You will find shallow water, with the lakes averaging about 5 feet deep so they make for a unique snorkel experience.
The brackish water makes these lakes home to both fresh and saltwater species. You can expect to find a range of fish but the odd creatures known as sea cucumbers.
You can find the dune lakes located along the Scenic Highway 30-A corridor.
Complete Your Snorkeling Excursion With Destiny Water Adventures
If you’re planning to go snorkeling in Destin Florida, you can maximize your experience with Destiny Water Adventures. Our jet ski, pontoon boat, or kayak rentals are the perfect way to ensure you and your family can find your own little snorkel oasis. This allows you to break free from the pack a little at crowded locations like the East Pass Jetty or Norriego Point for the best experience possible.