Snorkeling in Destin FL, The Complete Guide

While you’re here in Destin, you probably want to spend every possible moment at the beach or in the water. One of the more unique water sports to take advantage of is snorkeling where you can quite literally swim with the fishes!

This activity can be as simple as you want with $20 or less spent on a basic snorkeling kit, or it can be a full blown chartered adventure. This guide will walk you through the pros and cons of each open, whether you want to keep it simple or have small kids, or if you want to worry about nothing and go for a chartered trip.

Equipment You’ll Need

Every major retailer will sell a snorkeling kit, but really all you need is a mask and a snorkel to have the most fun. Most kits you’ll buy will include fins and while this helps you buzz around in the water, it’s totally not necessary and might not be worth the extra cost.

But, it does make amazing pictures of the kids when they’re masked up with the hilariously oversized fins on!

A simple mask like this one will work great for adults and older kids. If you have little ones, you’ll definitely want to get them a smaller version, but the exact same style will be more than enough to have fun the water.

Where to Go Snorkeling in Destin

The beauty of snorkeling is that you can do it anywhere in Destin, whether you’re on the beach, in the bay, or in the Destin East Pass.

The adventure is exploring the underwater scenes, trying to see what marine life you can spot, and just spending some time floating around. You’ll be able to find shells and many other oddities you probably don’t have in the water back home.

Check out our guide to all of the beach access locations available in Destin.

Because of the fact that you can go snorkeling anywhere means that your success can be heavily dependent on the conditions of the day. If it has recently stormed, the water will be a bit more murky and viewing distance will be lower.

But, if the water is calm (like it typically is in the mornings!) you’ll be able to restfully float around and explore the underwater world right off the coast anywhere in Destin.

So our specific recommendation on where to go would be to snorkel in the Destin East Pass in some of the protected swimming areas. These have artificial rock formations that have turned into little reefs, attracting a huge variety of marine life and activity around them. You’ll want to use the O’Steen or Norriego Point beach accesses. More info available here.

With all of that in mind, be sure you’re paying attention to the Beach Warning Flag system in Destin. This is a critical system to let you know if it’s safe to enter the waters at all, or to alert you to potential hazards. Don’t let the fun of the Destin beaches turn into something terrible.

Are you curious about when to go snorkeling in Destin? Check out our guide on the best time to visit Destin and that will help you answer a lot of that. You can realistically go anytime of year, just depending on your tolerance for cold water!

What You’ll See While Snorkeling

The waters around Destin contain a huge variety of fish and marine species, especially near rock formations and reefs. Many of the marine animals you’ll encounter will be on the smaller side, so there’s no real concern for danger (outside of paying attention to currents and warning flags).

You can expect to see creatures like crabs, small turtles, gar, and often you’ll see large schools of smaller fish swimming and darting about.

This video will give you an amazing look at our favorite spot to go that we mentioned earlier, along with an idea of what you’ll see:

Hiring a Charter

If you’re looking for a totally hands off experience and want to just let a local guide you around for the perfect day snorkeling, you can easily hire a service that will leave from the Destin Harbor and take you to special places around the area.

Many of the prolific service businesses around the area like Sunshine Watersports offer a snorkeling service alongside their other offerings like parasailing and dolphin cruises.

Boarding a snorkeling charter is a great way to enjoy the fun in the water and sun, but not worry about any of the equipment or where to go.

That said, if you have kids they will almost certainly want to do it again, so you’ll need to decide if you want to start small with your own gear and keep it at that, or get on a charter for an epic adventure day.

Keep It Simple and Have Fun

Don’t forget that snorkeling can be extremely fun and memorable, even when it’s done affordably and for just a few hours. Whether you’ve got a packed van full of kids or you’re just with your significant other, get out there and have fun.

There’s no need to spend a ton of money to enjoy the gorgeous underwater scenes while you soak up the sun on the famous white sand beaches of Destin.