Location: Gulf Islands National Seashore on Pensacola Beach, Fort Pickens
The Ft. Pickens Jetties are one of the most popular shore diving sites in the Florida Panhandle. This site is easily accessible from the north seawall steps west of the fishing pier. This aquatic preserve holds a great deal of marine life including Grouper, Snapper, Flounder, Spadefish, Guitarfish, Sheepshead, Red Drum, Stargazer, Porcupine Puffer Fish, Sting Ray, and many more. The rocks also serve as a nursery habitat for many species of tropical fish. Gobies, Blennies, Damselfish, Jawfish, and more are prominent residents.
Location: Public Beach Access #1 on Sandy Key Dr. off of Johnson’s Beach Rd, Perdido Key
The Perdido Key Reef was built in 2014 and is comprised of 24 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. The rows are 20′-25′ apart and extend about 280′. The depth is roughly 10′-15′ with the reef modules sitting approximately 6′-8′ below the surface. The artificial reef serves as a habitat for many species of tropical fish. Sea turtles are commonly spotted resting in the sand under and around the reef modules.
Park West Reef
Location: Just before entrance to Fort Pickens Park on Fort Pickens Road. Located in Pensacola Bay, it should be easy to spot the large pylons that mark corners of the reef area
The Park West Reef consist of various size concrete reef balls, memorial reefs, and other concrete structures which attract a wide array of small tropical marine life in warmer months. The site is very easy to locate because the corners of the reef are marked by large pylons which stand well above the water line. The pylons are exactly 100′ apart and make a square. The depth is roughly 8′-14′ with the reef balls sitting approximately 6′-8′ below the surface. Because of the location in Pensacola Bay, visibility is generally in the 5-10′ range but can be 15-20′ when the stars align. This site is generally not subject to strong currents because of it’s location.
Depth: 10-45ft outside of cavern (over 100′ in cave)
Location: 1517 Vortex Spring Lane – Ponce De Leon, FL 32455 (4.5 miles north off Florida exit 96 on I-10)
Vortex Springs is located in Ponce De Leon, FL about 1.5 hours from Pensacola towards Tallahassee on I-10. The spring basin or bowl is an excellent area for beginner divers to gain experience and hone their skills. The area also features an underwater cave system for trained cavern and cave divers. The basin of Vortex is fed by 28 million gallons of crystal clear spring water daily and water temperature at the spring is 68 degrees year round. Fish in the spring basin include bluegill, freshwater eels, bass and carp. This is a very popular area for dive training and features 2 separate underwater training platforms and a floating dock for deep water entries. Water clarity is generally excellent but can deteriorate rapidly if crowded with divers with poor buoyancy control due to silty bottom.