The snorkel reef in the Gulf of Mexico off Navarre Beach Marine Park is one of many artificial reef complexes in the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary and provides a wonderfully easy-to-access view of some magnificent marine life. These nearshore hotspots are also accessible during summers on clear-bottom kayak cruises, and both novice and experienced divers and snorkelers will enjoy getting a glimpse of the fish and other marine creatures that are attracted there. Moreover, we will be sharing additional details that you need to know about snorkeling in Navarre beach.
What is Navarre beach?
Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary on Santa Rosa Island has a number of manmade reefs that enhance marine ecosystems and provide snorkelers and scuba divers easy access to the underwater world. These artificial reefs are located in the nearshore waters surrounding Navarre Beach Marine Park. A short distance from the beach and home to some fascinating Gulf of Mexico fish and other aquatic life is the SR-26 snorkel reef on the Gulf side of the Marine Park.
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What is it like to snorkel in Navarre beach?
The Gulf snorkel reef is made up of so-called “trees”: pilings driven into the seafloor and containing several concrete discs cased in Florida limestone, which provide an artificial reef substrate simulating natural coral formations. These artificial reef complexes are similar to the two on the other side of the barrier island in the Marine Sanctuary’s Santa Rosa Sound waters.
This snorkel reef, which is made up of about 80 of these structures, is located about 2,000 feet east of the Navarre Beach Pier. It may be reached by the boardwalk beach access from the Sea Oat Pavilion, which is the beach pavilion that is the farthest southeast of the Navarre Beach Marine Park. Just across the second offshore sandbar, PVC stakes in the seashore sand indicate the position of the reef.
This reef draws native Gulf species including snapper, triggerfish, grouper, king mackerel, and cobia as well as the odd shark or ray, so you never know what you could encounter when snorkeling or scuba diving there. Along with being a haven for octopi, urchins, and other invertebrates, these reef structures are also periodically visited by the adorable sea turtles that hatch and forage along the Emerald Coast.
Clear-bottom kayak cruises are also offered from June through September to the Gulf snorkel reef, providing a topside way to appreciate this unique haven.
As enjoyable as it is to laze about on the dunes and cast from the pier at Navarre Beach Marine Park, seeing the underwater activity just offshore at the Gulf snorkel reef makes the trip much more memorable! One of the greatest places in the wider Pensacola Beach region to wear snorkeling or diving gear and get up and personal with fish, sea turtles, octopi, and other marine creatures is right here!
Best locations for snorkeling in Navarre beach
1. East of Navarre beach
The smallest of the three locations, north-west of Sandpiper Pavilion, is the east sound side reef. The pilings at each corner of this location, which is the most easily accessible of the three, are labeled “SNORKELING REEF” and “NO MOTORIZED VESSELS.” The location, which has 28 buildings with tops that are 7 feet below the surface and are set 10 feet apart in 12 feet of water, is located approximately 150 feet from the beach.
2. West of Navarre beach
The biggest of the three locations, with a footprint about the size of a football field, is on the west sound side. Take the first left after entering the park to reach this reef. The Red Drum Pavilion and the Navarre Beach Science Station are situated just to the north of it. The beach offers a view of the location.
This location, which is more suited for diving than snorkeling, is designated by pilings on each of its four corners and signs that read “SNORKELING REEF” and “NO MOTORIZED VESSELS.” This site, which is 700 feet from the beach, consists of 77 buildings with tops that are 14 feet below the surface and are spaced 10 feet apart in 20 feet of water.
3. Gulf reef
The Sea Oat pavilion is just south of the Gulf location. This is the park’s furthest southeast parking lot. Once reaching the beach, continue on the boardwalk for about 100 feet before turning east. The Gulf Reef, which contains 78 buildings and is 340 feet south of the mean tide line, is identified (on land only) by four enormous PVC poles placed on the sand dune. It is located just beyond the second sand bar.
Best time to visit Navarre beach
All seasons are lovely for visiting Navarre Beach. What’s most essential to you will determine the best time for your visit. Try to go between mid-February and the end of May for the best weather conditions for outdoor recreation. Although June is the biggest month in the seaside town, May and July are also highly busy. You could choose to schedule your vacation during the early spring, the autumn, or winter since those seasons are less costly and less crowded. There are always entertaining things to do in Navarre Beach and the other areas since they organize a variety of events and festivals throughout the year.
Other things to do at Navarre beach
Beginning your trip in Navarre Beach with a free day will allow you to explore the area and appreciate the marvel of the surrounding natural beauty. Enjoy the feel of the wind on your hair. Put your toes in the gulf’s gorgeous, azure waters. After strolling on the fine, white sand at Navarre Beach, relax and enjoy a brief sunset viewing.
Spend the day riding down the coast on a scooter that you rent from Sage’s Paddle Company. The history of this locally held company is interesting. An 11-year-old boy called Sage launched Sage’s Paddle Company after seeing a need for paddleboard rentals in the neighborhood. The young, inventive businesswoman asked her father for a loan to launch her company, and she achieved almost instant success. Sage, who is now a teen, is still highly interested in managing her company, despite having to temporarily shut it last spring so she could go to her prom. In addition to renting paddleboards, Sage’s Paddle Company also offers bike, kayak, and scooter rentals. It is a one-stop shop for maximizing beach pleasure.
Go for a beautiful, amazing trip across the Gulf Islands National Seashore after selecting your scooter or bike. Visit Opal Beach in the Gulf Islands’ Santa Rosa region. After Hurricane Opal blew across the region in 1995, it was created. Take a walk around the Navarre Beach Pier as an alternative. It has the distinction of being Florida’s longest pier. It spans 1,545 feet and is 30 feet over the lake.
Loved for its thriving animals, Navarre Beach. It is a valued sea turtle habitat in part because of how little light pollution there is. When sea turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests, light pollution may confuse them and make them turn in the incorrect direction. Be careful to turn off the lights in any rooms you are using that have a view of the beach if you are coming during the sea turtle nesting season, which lasts from May through October. Verify that you shut the blinds and drapes after nightfall.