Snorkel gear on Alabama's beaches

4 Best Spots to Snorkel and Shore Dive in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

How do you get the thrilling underwater exploration of a SCUBA dive without the commitment?

By taking an easy and fun snorkeling trip or shore dive! In part three of our in-depth dive series, we’re taking a plunge into shallower waters to find the best ways to snorkel and shore dive on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

These adventures are perfect for families or beginning explorers because they’re easy to access, have shallow depths, and don’t require hours of logged diving time. You just need the right snorkeling gear (find it at any local dive shop), the heart of an explorer, and some key information. And, we can help you with that last one.

Here’s everything you need to know about snorkeling and shore diving in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach!

Jetties at Alabama Point in Orange Beach, AL

1. The Whiskey Wreck

The most popular shore-dive in the area takes you to the site of a 200’ Spanish Rum Runner that was sunk in less than 20 feet of water. Its shallow depths and easy access make it a prime spot for snorkelers, beachgoers, and novice divers, while its vibrant marine life and hidden crevices make it a thrilling site for even experienced explorers. 

Located just 150 feet off the beach, the Whiskey Wreck is near a handy sandbar that offers a nice spot for gearing up. Its murky depths offer limited visibility of 10-15 feet, so you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for nautical neighbors. 

When you’re finished with your tour, head to the shore to dry your fins and enjoy a cocktail at Bahama Bob’s Beachshore Cafe, located near the dive site!

2. The Jetties at Alabama Point

The jetties are rock and concrete structures that protect Perdido Pass from the tides and currents of the Gulf, and they are home to a large variety of marine life that swim in and around these shallow waters. This makes them a popular spot for fishing, birdwatching, snorkeling, and beach diving. 

You can reach the jetties from the shores of Alabama Point Beach. With ample parking and public restrooms nearby, the jetties offer a dive that’s as convenient as it is fun. There are also boardwalks that lead to the water, though the distance may make it a tiring trek if you’re lugging gear.

When diving the jetties, you may encounter crabs, sea urchins, octopus, stingrays, and even sharks, plus a large variety of local and tropical fish. Though the water level is only nine to 12 feet, the area is heavily populated with passing boats and anglers, making it more suitable for experienced divers. For the best experience, time your dive with the incoming tide - you want to head out an hour or more before peak time.

Sail Wild Hears in Orange Beach, AL

3. Take a Guided Snorkel Tour

For an experience the whole family will enjoy, book a snorkel expedition with Sail Wild Hearts. They offer two fun snorkel tours that will take you to some of the most popular snorkel sites in the area for a day of fun underwater exploration! 

The Snorkel & Sail Cruise takes you on a 90-minute sail to the Alabama Point Jetties where you can snorkel with the vibrant marine life that calls the area home. Their expert guides will get you fitted with the right equipment and show you the best spots to catch some underwater action!

If you want a little more variety, try the Kayak Adventure Snorkel Sail. You’ll sail to Robinson Island, where you can snorkel the clear blue waters around the sandbar to your heart’s content. If you choose, grab a kayak and paddle to a more secluded spot near the island for a solo snorkel adventure! 

4. Orange Beach Snorkeling Reefs

The city of Orange Beach has three artificial snorkeling reefs, also known as circalittoral reefs, where visitors can immerse themselves in a bustling underwater habitat. These concrete and limestone reef systems are home to a variety of parasitic and nautical marine life that live, play, and feed in the area. Just a few hundred feet offshore in average depths of eight feet, the reefs provide a unique chance for a quick glimpse of life under the Gulf of Mexico waves. 

The Orange Beach Snorkeling Reefs can be found at access points near Romar Beach, Alabama Point, and the Gulf State Park Pavilion. The site boundaries are marked by poles with mounted red lights that sit near the shore, though they may be turned off during the sea turtle nesting season. 

Swimming with the fishes is fun, but you’ll need a place a little less wet to rest your flippers when you’re done snorkeling. Book your stay at one of the nearby accommodations.

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