Mother Nature can destroy, but also create. Such is the case of the Destin Jetties. Though this creation was man made to battle past destruction, Mother Nature blessed it with an underwater wonderland of beauty.

The Jetties are fingers made up of giant rocks — 61,000 tons of rocks barged in from Kentucky — that took two years to build, finally completed in 1969.

A Bit of History

Understanding their purpose involves history and geography.

About 100 years ago, a surge from a hurricane closed the opening between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin with sand. Fishers dug a trench to open the gateway back up, and the tides took over to widen it into what is now called the East Pass.

Then a back-and-forth sand battle began. From 1931 to 1967, the East Pass was dredged 22 times to keep it open. Finally, having enough, the powers that be built the twin Jetties that flank the East Pass as a more permanent solution to protect it and make the area safer for boats.

The Jetties Now

In the decades since, abundant sea life moved into this perfect artificial reef home.

Not only does this make the Jetties a popular spot for catching some tasty fish, but it also makes them ideal for snorkeling and diving. Prepare to be delightfully awed.

Glimmering schools of silver, blue, yellow, and other brightly colored exotic fish abound. Crabs scurry into hiding spots. Sea turtles glide by in the turquoise waters. You might even see a shy octopus. Pods of dolphins also love this natural snack bar, and you can see them jumping and playing in the waves nearby.

If you’re into collecting shell souvenirs, this is even better than hunting for them on the beach.

What makes the Jetties even more exceptional for snorkeling is the shallow water — only from 30 to 60 feet deep. If you time it right, it’s so clear that visibility extends up to 50 feet from the bay. High tide also doesn’t have the strong currents that can pull you into the East Pass boat traffic.

Getting There

You can see the Jetties from Destin’s nearby bustling harbor, the food and entertainment hub of Harborwalk Village, and the Destin Bridge. 

Take a boat out, anchor, and jump in with masks and flippers, or book with multiple Okaloosa Island snorkeling tours. They have the expertise and rental gear to make it an effortless excursion beneath the sparkling waves. Some even give you fish food to entice closer encounters.

If you’re OK with a little hiking, you can drive. For the more popular East Jetty, head to O’Steen Public Beach Access. For the West Jetty, park near the Destin Bridge’s west side.