Lying just below Destin’s emerald surface is an underwater world waiting to be discovered. The area’s crystal clear waters coupled with its white sand, abundant marine life, and protected reefs make for a perfect snorkeling experience.
Destin, situated in northwest Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, plays host to thousands of tourists each year. The area is well known for its beautiful beaches with their warm waters, abundant wildlife, enormously popular fishing grounds, golf courses, and of course, lots of options for snorkeling near Destin! The area is popular with both couples and families, with something for everyone.
But before we discuss where the best snorkeling in Destin, FL is, let’s start with an overview of who can enjoy it and some of our expert tips.
First things first, who can enjoy the sport? Short answer, everyone and anyone. Even if you have never done it before, you can master it in a day. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be able to swim to view the stunning underwater world via snorkel, lifejackets or a flotation device are here to save the day.
Snorkeling is a wonderful activity. It gives you a perspective of a place you wouldn’t be able to enjoy otherwise. But what equipment do you need? The handy thing about snorkeling is that it requires very little to get started. The absolute basics include a face mask covering your nose, a plastic breathing tube that can be attached to your goggles, and a pair of flippers to help you navigate through the water. But some handy tips include taking a towel, wearing a swimming t-shirt as well as your swimming costume to help protect your skin from the sun, and some reef-safe sunscreen.
One of the first things you should make sure of is if your mask fits properly. If you jump in the water and your mask is loose or doesn’t fit quite right, you’re going to have a nose and eye full of salty water and/or a steamed-up mask. So, before you begin your snorkeling adventure, try the mask (ensure there’s no hair in the way) and try gently breathing with it on. If it doesn’t steam up or fall off your face, it’s for you!
Another suggestion is to ask your rental person or guide if they have any screen spray to avoid mask clouding. If it’s not available, spraying the inside of your mask with some soap also works wonders. And once you’re in the water, don’t burn all your energy trying to get used to the flippers. Get in, take a deep breath, and gently glide your way while enjoying the spectacle below.
The Best Spots
Without further ado, let’s talk about the best snorkeling in Destin, FL.
Norriego Point, located near the end of the Holiday Isle, is a protected area perfect for swimmers and snorkelers alike. There are no leisure or fishing boats allowed to enter the area and coupled with the protection from the nearby jetties, the calm waters make it suitable for all levels and ages.
There are countless species of underwater wildlife to spot here and the area itself is perfect for families as you’re close to the town with parking, restrooms, and restaurants. Relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy a day at the beach!
As a popular choice for locals and tourists alike, the Destin Jetties is a must-visit place for those looking to strap the snorkeling gear on. This man-made finger rock that connects Choctawhatchee Bay to the Gulf of Mexico provides an ideal snorkeling spot. The rocky inlets also provide homes for a number of sea creatures, so keep your eyes peeled for octopus, rays, crabs, and a wide variety of fish!
Crab Island is one of the most popular destinations for visitors who come to the Destin area. The shallow, warm, clear waters of the area are an excellent place to explore the watery underworld. We’d recommend hiring your own pontoon boat and taking a picnic out to explore Crab Island yourselves. As it’s a short ride from the shore, you can stop anywhere you wish to snorkel the emerald waters but one area we’d recommend snorkeling is the grass flats near the Coast Guard station!
Destin/Miramar Beach’s artificial reef
This snorkeling spot is unique – it’s an artificial reef shaped like a dolphin – which you can see from the air! A stone’s throw from scenic beach roads, surf shops, and fabulous restaurants, Miramar provides an excellent snorkeling destination and a chance to relax on the silky white sand. It’s common to spot turtles, dolphins, rays, and so much more in the area!
Snuba Destin, Florida
For those feeling a little more adventurous but who don’t quite want to go diving yet, snuba is your answer. Bridging the gap between both snorkeling and scuba diving, snuba lets you breathe through an easy-to-use regulator connected to an air supply on the surface.
The benefit of snuba is that you can spend longer and deeper underwater than snorkeling but you don’t have to worry about the equipment that comes with diving. There are a number of spots and tour companies that offer this experience in Destin.
Last but certainly not least, which animals would you be likely to see when snorkeling in Destin? With the combination of the protected reefs, the warm Gulf waters, and the numerous natural food sources for a variety of animals, there is so much to see in the area.
For the bigger animals, you might be lucky enough to see a pod of friendly dolphins leaping in the air. You may also be fortunate to see the friendly manatee giants gracefully swimming through their native grounds. Sea turtles also make appearances around the jetty areas but please remember to keep a safe distance from them.
On the smaller scale, keep an eye out underwater for the ever-cool pufferfish, hermit crabs, flounder, blue crabs, wrasse, redfish, octopuses, snapper, sheepshead, and many more.