Artificial reefs in Destin-Fort Walton Beach have become popular snorkel destinations for visitors. These artificial reefs were built to preserve and protect by continuing to provide a rich, sustainable habitat that helps marine life thrive.
With many of them only a few hundred yards from the shore, the reefs’ accessibility makes snorkeling a perfect family outing. Best of all? You might catch a glimpse of dolphins, sea turtles, redfish, crabs, and maybe even a manatee.
For visitors without equipment, first-timers, or anyone looking for a fun group adventure, some local companies offer guided tours to the snorkel reefs.
Here are a few of our favorite spots you won’t want to miss.
Henderson Beach State Park’s Reef
One of Destin’s most highly rated stretches of beach, Henderson Beach State Park offers beautiful dunes, a quiet shoreline, and a reef teeming with marine critters. In fact, snorkelers have reported seeing sea turtles and dolphins here.
The park is open year-round from 8 am to sundown. Entry is $6 per car, $4 for single-occupant cars, and $2 for cyclists/pedestrians.
John Beasley Park’s Reef
Fort Walton Beach’s John C. Beasley Park is a wonderful place to spend the day. The park offers some of the best snorkeling in Northwest Florida thanks to its crystal clear water. There are two dune walkovers, and a huge beach pavilion houses picnic tables as well as restrooms with changing rooms.
The artificial reef is located close to shore, east of the pavilion. Parking is ample and there is no fee to enter.
Norriego Point and The Jetties
If you’re looking for something a little more shallow, the tide pools at Norriego Point and the Destin Jetties are ideal for all-ages snorkeling. The area’s pristine waters offer unparalleled visibility of native aquatic life, from starfish to octopus.
Norriego Point is a popular area for boaters who can anchor their boats along the shore to hang out a while. Many people also come to Norriego Point by kayak or paddleboard. There is even a water taxi stop on Norriego Point, so you can come or go from anywhere on Destin Harbor.
The Destin Jetties are located across from HarborWalk Village and are Destin’s most popular snorkeling spot. The jetties are a wonderful place for beginners to snorkel. The water is extremely shallow close to the rocks, which makes it popular with families.
Besides snorkeling, it's very common to see people bring paddleboards and kayaks out to the reefs to fish.
Wherever you choose to visit, remember you are accessing these reefs at your own risk. Please pay attention to tides and the local beach flag system for safety and always wear a life jacket.