Artificial Reefs are man-made structures built to promote marine life and in some cases, improve surfing. The reef structures are designed to provide a sustainable food source for many species along with shelter and protection. Since the summer of 2015, the SWARA (South Walton Artificial Reef Association) has deployed 16 different artificial reef locations consisting of over 700 artificial structures. The structures are made of concrete, steel and limestone and are driven into the ground by fiberglass pilings.
Destin is home to many man-made reefs. Most reefs are located near public beaches to make it easier for guests to visit. The majority have nearby public parking and restrooms. Most of these reefs are located anywhere from 200 to 300 yards off the shore. The reefs are intended to be reachable from the shore. Some of the further reefs are recommended to be accessed by boat or at least a paddle board or kayak. A GPS device is also helpful when finding reefs.
The South Walton Artificial Reef Association has provided this map for locating all the current artificial reefs. S stands for Snorkel Reef. FD stands for Fishing and Diving Reef. Remember if you are snorkeling, Florida State Law requires divers to have a diver-down flag or buoy in the area you are diving. For the Fishing and Diving Reefs, it is highly recommended to access by kayak, paddleboard or boat.
Most Snorkeling Reefs are located under 300 yards from the shore. The depths of the reefs range around 12 - 25' and are conveniently accessed by paddleboard, kayak or a small boat.
DOLPHIN REEF in Miramar Beach - Depth: 12-20′
TURTLE REEF in Grayton Beach State Park - Depth: 12-19′
SEAHORSE REEF in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park - Depth: 13-18′
GROUPER REEF in Inlet Beach - Depth: 12-21′
The majority of Fishing and Diving Reefs are located relatively near the shore. However, Fish Haven #1, #2 and the Frangista Reef are much further, reaching 2 and 4 miles from the shore. If you are planning to dive these reefs, you should be certified in Scuba Diving. Be prepared for weather changes and please be respectful of the environment.
MIRAMAR BEACH in Miramar Beach - Depth: 62′
TOPSAIL BLUFF in Destin - Depth: 61′
FORT PANIC in Santa Rosa Beach - Depth: 61′
MIRAMAR-FRANGISTA in Miramar Beach - Depth: 68-75′
FISH HAVEN #1 in Santa Rosa Beach - Depth: 75′
SHUNK GULLEY in Santa Rosa Beach - Depth: 59′
FISH HAVEN #2 in Santa Rosa Beach - Depth: 89′
UNDERWATER MUSEUM OF ART in Santa Rosa Beach - Depth: 59′
DEER LAKE in Panama City Beach - Depth: 57′
BLUE MOUNTAIN in Santa Rosa Beach - Depth: 55′
SANTA CLARA in Santa Rosa Beach - Depth: 55′
INLET BEACH in Rosemary Beach - Depth: 58′
SWARA stands for the South Walton Artificial Reef Association. We would like to offer them a huge thanks in all their hard work in providing these reefs in our waters along with the information for our locals and tourists. Their mission is to develop habitat, create sustainability for wildlife and build a brighter future. Be sure to head to their site for more information on our local reefs.