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 12′-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. Average visibility at this site is 10-20′ but varies drastically with sea conditions. When conditions are good and seas are calm upwards of 30′ visibility is common.

Locating the Reef

Diving this site involves a little bit of a swim from shore but is very manageable on days with calm surf conditions. It is located out from Public Beach Access #1 on Sandy Key Dr. off of Johnson’s Beach Rd. There are two range markers that are placed at the end of the walkway to the beach from the parking area on shore to help divers and snorkelers line up with the reef. The front marker is a yellow triangle and the back marker is a blue square, simply line them up with one another and you are in line with the reef. The modules start about 300′ from shore at a depth starting out around 10′.

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 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 or sea lice)

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.