The Gulf site is located in the Gulf of Mexico 2000ft east of the fishing pier directly south of the Sea Oat pavilion (look for the dive flag on the pavilion). This is the furthest southeast parking area of the park. Follow the boardwalk to the beach and immediately head east approximately 100ft. The site is marked (on shore only) by two large posts positioned on the beach. The site is 340ft south of the mean tide line and was expanded to 78 structures spaced 20ft apart and is ideal for snorkeling and diving for any skill level. The site is immediately beyond the sand bar and depths range from 9–15ft with tops at 6–10ft below the surface. Visibility ranges from 5–40ft depending on conditions. The site is adjacent to the public swimming beach. Expect to see a wide variety of marine life to include turtles and stingrays. Flag warning systems mark the water conditions.
Locating the Reef
Diving this site from shore involves a little bit of a swim but is very manageable on days with calm surf conditions. There are two range markers that are placed on shore to help divers and snorkelers line up with the reef. Often there are also surface markers tied off to the front of the reef area that are visible from the beach which make locating the reef extremely easy.
Important Reef Info
- Florida law requires use of Divers-Down Flag for diving or snorkeling and divers must make a reasonable effort to stay within 100′ of dive flag.
- NO SPEARFISHING ALLOWED
- No lifeguards on duty. Be aware of boat traffic, hazardous marine life, and potentially dangerous wave action and currents.
- Always dive with a buddy, NEVER ALONE!
- Personal flotation device or buoyancy aid strongly recommended for snorkelers.
- Snorkelers and Divers should adhere to beach warning flags.
- GREEN FLAG – Low hazard/Generally calm conditions.
- YELLOW FLAG – Medium hazard/Moderate surf and/or currents
- RED FLAG – High hazard/High Surf and/or strong currents
- PURPLE FLAG – Hazardous Marine Life (generally jellyfish/sea lice in late summer months)
The best conditions for diving are when it is calm with little current (green flag). Plan your diving/snorkeling activities around when conditions warrant not just when you have the opportunity to go. Visibility is generally poor and currents are generally strong when there is medium to high wave action and makes the swim out and back much more challenging.