Located at the end of Holiday Isle and overlooking the Destin East Pass, Norriego Point’s shallow tide pools are ideal for all-ages snorkeling. The area’s pristine waters offer unparalleled visibility of native aquatic life, from starfish to octopus.
Here are a few underwater critters to be on the lookout for:
Dolphins are one of the most often-spotted aquatic life in Destin-Fort Walton Beach thanks to the fact that the area has a large population of dolphins that live there year round. Unlike other coastal communities, the warm Gulf of Mexico waters require dolphins to migrate during the cold seasons.
In fact, from late spring through the end of summer, female dolphins from other areas visit Destin for mating season. While there’s no way to guarantee a dolphin sighting, they are most active at daybreak, so be sure to get an early start.
Octopuses, big and small, can be spotted in the Gulf waters. These creatures are considered the smartest of undersea invertebrates and are known for their incredible camouflage skills. When looking for octopuses during your visit, be sure to keep your eyes peeled. They often hide wedged under a rock or blended into their surroundings.
It may be tempting to reach out and touch an octopus if you spot one, but always remember to respect their space. All octopuses are thought to have some venom and even though most don't have enough poison to harm people, it’s always best to be cautious.
Popular household pets, hermit crabs can also be found in the calm pools of water left behind by the sea at low tide. In the wild, hermit crabs can grow quite large due to the warm waters of the Florida coast and are considered mobile home dwellers, changing out their shells as they outgrow them.
Despite the name, hermit crabs are not solitary creatures and usually live in large colonies of 100 or more.
A visitor-favorite sight is the starfish. Usually hiding just below the sand in shallow waters, starfish can be hard to spot at first. Once you find one, take a closer look at this fascinating creature. Can you see its eyes? They’re located at the end of each limb—however, it is still uncertain how starfish can see since they have no brain.
Related to sand dollars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and sea lilies, scientists prefer calling starfish “sea stars” since there’s nothing fishy about them.
Barracudas, Sheepshead Fish, & Red Snappers
Though scary-looking creatures, barracudas are a misunderstood sight in the Florida waters. Despite their fang-like teeth and predatory success, reports of attacks on humans are extremely rare.
Another bizarre-looking creature you might encounter is the sheepshead fish with its human-like teeth.
Last but not least, you might spot the gulf’s signature dweller, the red snapper. The red snapper is not only popular under the sea, it is in fact, one of the most sought-after catches by restaurants and chefs.
Whether you arrive by boat or by shore, slack high tide is the best time to visit Norriego Point’s tide pools and catch a glimpse of one of these sea dwellers.