Snorkel in Orange Beach

Four Cool Spots to Snorkel the Beach

You've biked the trails, built a sandcastle and eaten your fill of fresh Alabama seafood. What's next?

Add the finishing touch to your Gulf Shores and Orange Beach vacation by experiencing a whole different state of wonder when you strap on goggles and snorkel your way through the area. Think you need a boat to do any good snorkeling on Alabama's beaches? Think again! You'll enjoy several opportunities in the deep blue. Okay . . . the shallow blue.

Perdido Pass Orange Beach

Four Popular Snorkel Spots

The Alabama Point jetties at the Perdido Pass Bridge in Orange Beach create a popular spot for snorkeling and even shore diving. You'll see plenty of crabs and marine life near the rocks. Experts suggest going during an incoming tide, an hour or more before the peak. Just a short walk from the jetties, you'll find picnic areas, restrooms and outdoor showers. Spend a day snorkeling the jetties with all the creature comforts nearby.

Shore divers and snorkelers alike can take a step back in time and explore the Whiskey Wreck, just 150 yards off the beach in Gulf Shores. The wreck is an old Spanish rum runner said to have sunk in 1920 that is 200 feet in length. All that is left is a three-foot high wall of hull, but it's teaming with marine life. The wreck is located directly in front of Bahama Bob's at 601 W. Beach Blvd. The Whiskey Wreck is under 15 to 25 feet of water and covers approximately 300 square yards. At Bahama Bob's, it lies just beyond the sand bar. Experts say night diving and snorkeling the wreck highlights things that typically go unnoticed during daylight hours.

A short drive east will take you to the Perdido Key Snorkel Reef. Located at the Johnson Beach public beach access, the reef consists of 33 sections of artificial reef installed in March 2015. The reef is about 200 feet from the beach and is home to tropical fish and even sea turtles. For those new to snorkeling, always bring a friend along, and snorkel on days when waves and currents are minimal, along with good visibility. It's also a good idea to use dive flags.

Kids snorkeling on Alabama's Beaches

Circalittoral Reef Spots

Circalittoral reefs (reefs near the seashore) recently got a boost thanks to the Marine Resources Division and restoration funding from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A habitat enhancement project now offers increased and better-quality habitat for reef-associated organisms in the circalittoral zone.

Man-made with limestone and concrete, the circalittoral areas will attract organisms like bryozoans, tunicates and encrusting algae which will settle on the substrate creating a foundation for a reef community to thrive. Over time, the artificial reefs will support a diverse ecosystem that will produce marine life in abundance.

You can find the circalittoral reefs at three Gulf State Park Beach Access Sites: Pavilion, Romar Beach and Alabama Point. The shallow reefs (only about eight feet) are about 500’ from the shore with a large enough vertical clearance to accommodate boaters. From the water, look for the alignment of the poles that serve a reef markers (rear poles are yellow with red stripes and front poles are only yellow) to determine your relation to the reef. Red lights offer a nighttime point of reference except for sea turtle nesting season.

Find out more about taking the plunge and discovering our underwater world in this first-hand account of a father/daughter diving duo's adventures on Alabama's beaches.


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