Beach / Shore Dives
Location: Gulf Islands National Seashore on Pensacola Beach, Fort Pickens
The Ft. Pickens Jetties are one of the most popular shore diving sites in the Florida Panhandle. This site is easily accessible from the north seawall steps west of the fishing pier. This aquatic preserve holds a great deal of marine life including Grouper, Snapper, Flounder, Guitarfish, Sheepshead, Red Drum, Stargazer, Porcupine Puffer Fish, and many more. The rocks also serve as a nursery habitat for many species of tropical fish. Gobies, Blennies, Damselfish, Jawfish, and more are prominent residents.
Location: Public Beach Access #1 on Sandy Key Dr. off of Johnson’s Beach Rd, Perdido Key
The Perdido Key Reef was built in 2014 and is comprised of 24 modules of Ecosystem by Reefmaker artificial reef modules made in Gulf Shores, AL. The are constructed by attaching concrete disc covered with limestone to fiberglass pilings which are driven into the sand. The rows are 20′-25′ apart and extend about 280′. The depth is roughly 10′-15′ with the reef modules sitting approximately 6′-8′ below the surface. The artificial reef serves as a habitat for many species of tropical fish. Sea turtles are commonly spotted resting in the sand under and around the reef modules.
Park West Reef
Location: Just before entrance to Fort Pickens Park on Fort Pickens Road. Located in Pensacola Bay, it should be easy to spot the large pylons that mark corners of the reef area
The Park West Reef consist of various size concrete reef balls and other concrete structures which attract a wide array of small tropical marine life. The site is very easy to locate because the corners of the reef are marked by large pylons which stand well above the water line. The pylons are exactly 100′ apart and make up a square. The depth is roughly 8′-14′ with the reef balls sitting approximately 6′-8′ below the surface. Because of the location in Pensacola Bay, visibility is generally in the 5-10′ range but can be over 15-20′ when conditions are right. This site is generally not subject to strong currents because of it’s location.
Depth: 10-45ft outside of cavern (over 100′ in cave)
Location: 1517 Vortex Spring Lane – Ponce De Leon, FL 32455 (4.5 miles north off Florida exit 96 on I-10)
Vortex Springs is located in Ponce De Leon, FL about 1.5 hours from Pensacola towards Tallahassee on I-10. The spring basin or bowl is an excellent area for beginner divers to gain experience and hone their skills. The area also features an underwater cave system for trained cavern and cave divers. The basin of Vortex is fed by 28 million gallons of crystal clear spring water daily and water temperature at the spring is 68 degrees year round. Fish in the spring basin include bluegill, freshwater eels, bass and carp. This is a very popular area for dive training and features 2 separate underwater training platforms and a floating dock for deep water entries. Water clarity is generally excellent but can deteriorate rapidly if crowded with divers with poor buoyancy control due to silty bottom.
Location: 5 miles east of Casino Beach on Pensacola Beach, Parking Lot H
The Park East Reef was built in 2011 and is comprised of 19 pairs (38 modules) of Ecosystem by Reefmaker artificial reef modules made in Gulf Shores, AL. The are constructed by attaching concrete disc covered with limestone to fiberglass pilings which are driven into the sand. The rows are 20-25′ apart and extend about 500′ into the gulf out to the 2nd sand bar. The depth is roughly 10-15′ with the top of reef modules sitting approximately 6-10′ below the surface.
Location: Navarre Beach
The Gulf site is located in the Gulf of Mexico 2,000ft east of the fishing pier directly south of the Sea Oat pavilion (look for the dive flag on the pavilion). This is the furthest southeast parking area of the park. Follow the boardwalk to the beach and immediately head east approximately 100ft. The site is marked (on shore only) by two large posts positioned on the sand dune. The site is 340ft south of the mean tide line and consists of 30 structures in three columns of ten spaced 20ft apart and is ideal for snorkeling and diving for any skill level. The site is immediately beyond the second sand bar. Depths range from 9-15ft with tops at 6-10ft below the surface. Visibility ranges from 5-30ft depending on sea conditions. The site is adjacent to the public swimming beach. Expect to see a wide variety of marine life to include turtles and stingrays.
Captain Bob Quarles Reef
Location: About 100 yards north of Park West Reef near Fort Pickens entrance GPS Location: Latitude 30 19.738’N Longitude 87 10.871’W
The Bob Quarles Reef consist of 270 tons of concrete material from the Gulf Breeze Fishing Pier bridge decking placed on top of BP concrete anchors creating a large artificial reef area. The reef is located about 200-250 yards from shore directly off of the Park West Reef area near the entrance to Fort Pickens. It is fairly easy to locate using a compass to navigate due north from the center of the Park West Reef about another 100-150 yards out into the bay. Make sure that you have a dive flag that is clearly visible because boat traffic is common in this area. Visibility ranges from 5-20′ in this area depending on conditions and is most commonly in the 5-10′ range.
Depth: 10-35ft outside of cavern (up to 300′ in deepest cavity)
Location: 874 Morrison Springs Rd. – Ponce De Leon, FL 32455 (about 6 miles south off Florida exit 96 on I-10)
Morrison Springs is located in Ponce De Leon, FL about 1.5 hours east of Pensacola towards Tallahassee on I-10. The spring basin is 250′ in diameter surrounded by cypress trees located on a 161 acre park managed by Walton County. The park includes large boardwalks overlooking the springs, a covered pavilion with picnic tables, rest rooms and a gear rinse area. Three cavities feed around 48 million gallons of crystal clear water daily from the underground aquifer. Water temperature at the spring is 66-68 degrees year round. This is a very popular area for dive training with easy access to the water and a large underwater training platform. The spring has large cavern/cave system that can be explored by certified cavern/cave divers. Clarity/Visibility can range excellent to extremely poor depending on water level. It is best to check recent dive reports or water level tables to determine current visibility.