Park East Reef (Snorkel Reef)
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.
Diving the Park East Reef
There are two range markers that are placed in the dunes on shore to help divers and snorkelers line up with the reef. The front marker is a yellow triangle and the back marker is a blue square, simply line them up with one another and you are in line with the reef. The modules start about 300′ from shore at a depth starting out around 14′.
The rows are 20-25′ apart and extend about 500′ into the gulf out to the 2nd sand bar. The depth is roughly 12-15′ with the reef modules sitting approximately 6-10′ below the surface. Visibility at the site varies drastically with sea conditions but can be upwards of 30′ when conditions are good and seas are calm. Average visibility is 10-20′.
The best conditions for diving are when it is calm with little current (green flag). Plan your diving/snorkeling activities around when conditions warrant not just when you have the opportunity to go. Visibility is typically poor and currents are generally strong when there is medium to high wave action and makes the swim out and back much more challenging.
Escambia County Park East Reef Info (Range Markers are not the same as the PDF states, they are a blue square and yellow triangle).
Important Reef Info
- Florida law requires use of Divers-Down Flag for diving or snorkeling and divers must make a reasonable effort to stay within 100′ of dive flag.
- No lifeguards on duty. Be aware of boat traffic, hazardous marine life, and potentially dangerous wave action and currents.
- Alway dive with a buddy, NEVER ALONE!
- Personal floatation device or buoyancy aid strongly recommended for snorkelers.
- Snorkelers and Divers should adhere to beach warning flags.
- GREEN FLAG – Low hazard/Generally calm conditions.
- YELLOW FLAG – Medium hazard/Moderate surf and/or currents
- RED FLAG – High hazard/High Surf and/or strong currents
- PURPLE FLAG – Hazardous Marine Life (generally jellyfish in late summer months)
Getting to the Reef
It is located off of Parking Lot H which is 5.2 miles east of Casino Beach or 1.5 miles east of the Portofino Condominiums. Caution the sand gets very soft quickly (see photo), so don’t drive too far into the sand unless you want to experience one of Pensacola tow trucks as a added bonus.
Marine life seen around the Park East Reef
When diving the Park East Reef you will see a lot of different marine life, some of them are:
- Sting Ray
- Spade Fish
- Sea Turtles
- Bait Fish
- Gray Triggerfish
- Spanish Mackerel
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- Loggerhead Sea Turtle
- Cocoa Damselfish
- Sand Dollars
- Lettered Olive Shell
There are many other types of marine life that are around the Park East Reef, if you want to identify the species you can look at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Saltwater identification page.