If you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine State, there’s plenty to do to enjoy above-the-water activities and the thrill of discovering the beauty awaiting under the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether it’s a first-time visit or a repeat vacation destination, Pensacola offers more than its share of excitement. When snorkeling is at the top of your itinerary, there are several top-notch snorkeling spots in Pensacola you won’t want to miss.
Perdido Key Snorkeling Reef
This snorkeling spot is just down the road from Perdido Key State Park accessible with just a short walk to the shoreline and a quick swim of about 300 feet to the reef. The artificial habitat is teeming with a variety of marine life. The snorkeling depth is approximately 20 feet with the multiple reef modules situated about 8 to 10 feet below. The sandy bottom provides a peaceful respite for sea turtles and sand dollars and the reef provides tropical fish with plenty of hiding places and tasty tidbits throughout the year.
Pensacola Beach Snorkeling Reefs
Pensacola Beach offers “something for everyone” with its three snorkeling reefs. One is located at Park West on the sound side, which offers an excellent place to begin your snorkeling underwater adventure and then relax topside on sugar-white sand. On the Gulf side, Park East (Pensacola Beach Access) provides a second opportunity to dip into the 10-foot depths where crabs, sea turtles, and assorted fish call home among the established cylinders. Pensacola Beach has earned the distinction as one of the top beaches in the U.S. and on the East Coast.
7 Casino Beach Boardwalk Pensacola Beach, FL 32561
Making up the third Pensacola Beach reef destination, another Gulf destination houses a relatively new reef constructed in 2020. It resides about 700 feet off the Casino Beach shoreline. This snorkeling destination offers more water-wonders to observe during the peak season when water temperatures are warm and inviting. As always, assorted marine life, including sharks, may be observed. It’s easy to add restaurants and entertainment to your itinerary when choosing Casino Beach as it is where you will find the 1,471-foot Pensacola Beach Pier within walking distance.
USS Massachusetts Shipwreck – Pensacola Bay
There’s something mysterious, even eerie when exploring the dark recesses of a wrecked battleship. Add this experience to your short list of “must-do adventures” when visiting the massive structure of the USS Massachusetts. The downed battleship is the oldest in America and is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. The wreck resides in Pensacola Bay within the Fort Pickens State Aquatic Preserve, where it serves as an underwater archaeological site supporting numerous aquatic species, such as Jellyfish, Butterflyfish, Silversides, and the imposing Great Barracuda. At low tide, the ship’s wheelhouse rises above the water, marking the spot of the wreck’s final resting place.
Spend the day enjoying the sun, surf, and wildlife with a visit to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Located in Gulf Breeze, just 10 minutes away from Pensacola, you’ll have access to Opal Beach, known for its many activities from windsurfing and swimming to diving and snorkeling. Make a day of it with a picnic at one of the pavilions after your underwater excursion. While the beach offers many opportunities for fun, above and below, it is a less crowded environment for those who prefer a quieter atmosphere.
Near Pensacola’s public beach and the fishing pier, Jacobi Reef is short and sweet for enjoyable and relaxing snorkeling in an estimated 10 feet of water. Tall pilings stand quietly at attention marking the reef’s location. The cylinders may not always be visible as shifting sands often cover the structures. The reef is named in honor of Tom Jacobi, a long-time Navy salvage diver.
Another snorkeling option located in Fort Pickens National Park is Langdon Beach. The beach is a popular spot for water enthusiasts for swimming, fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and snorkeling in the turquoise waters of the Gulf. Gentle waves roll in to greet you as you head out into the warm waters to view the underwater scenery and its residents.
A trip to the Sunshine State offers many things to do from the Panhandle to the Keys and the East Coast to the West Coast. When Pensacola is the destination of choice, consider yourself a pirate from the past, as you’ve discovered a hidden treasure. You won’t be limited when it comes to filling each day of your stay with interesting, intriguing, and invigorating activities that focus on relaxing, unwinding, and enjoying to the maximum all Pensacola has to offer.