Pensacola Area Beach Dives
The Pensacola area has some great places where you don’t need a boat to go diving. These sites listed below all can be done by driving to the location and doing a classic shore dive or snorkel. In general you would want to dive in the gulf side (except Ft. Pickens) the visibility is much better than the bay side. Don’t forget to bring your dive flag and stay close to it as some site do have boat traffic.
Location: Public Beach Access #1 on Sandy Key Drive, off of Johnson’s Beach Rd, Perdido Key
In March of 2014 Perdido Key Reef was created by placing 32 disc reefs off the shore of Perdido Key. As you arrive to the site you will see the reef map and sign on your right. When you reach the water and you look back you will see a yellow triangle and a blue square line both of these up to locate the reef.
Location: Park West Reef is just before entrance to Fort Pickens on Fort Pickens Road. If you look to the bay side you should see a large parking lot with some large pylons in the water.
The Park West Reef is a short walk from the shore. Most of the time you will be able to walk to the four large pylons which mark the area of the reef. There is a combination of some rubble and concrete reef balls that hide a variety of small fish.
Location: 5 miles east of Casino Beach on Pensacola Beach, Parking Lot H
The Park East Reef also called Snorkel Reef was built in 2011 and draws a lot of snorkelers and divers. Before you walk across the sand dune, look to your left and you will see a map of the site and the 2 range markers. Once you are in the water and looking back at the shore you’re can line up the yellow triangle in front of the blue square.
Location: Gulf Islands National Seashore on Pensacola Beach, Fort Pickens
Although considered a relatively easy dive, depths can range between 10′ – 50′. The site is subject to strong currents during tide changes. Best dive conditions are usually best one hour before to one hour after the peak high tide.
Location: About 100 yards north of Park West Reef near Fort Pickens
Captain Bob Quarles was created from 270 tons of concrete from the Gulf Breeze Fishing Pier creating a large artificial reef area.
Location: Navarre Beach
Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary is three dive sites, Gulf, Bay and east side. Near-shore reefs allow people of all skill levels to easily view marine life and ecosystems supported by the reefs. The Sound side reefs provide beginners a calm and protected area to learn and develop snorkeling and diving skills, while the Gulf side reef allows more advanced snorkelers and divers to view exotic marine wildlife by traveling only a few hundred feet off- shore.
Location: Ft. Pickens 30 18.710’N and 87 15.940’W
The Catherine was a three-masted ship built in Canada in 1869 and restored in 1870 under the name Eliza. She was nearly 200 feet long and over 30 feet in beam. She was sold to a Norwegian firm in 1890 and continued as a merchant vessel, but under the new name of Cathrine.