Pensacola is a port city located on Pensacola Bay. With over 50 miles of protected shoreline, clear waters and beautiful sugar white sand, Pensacola is a perfect destination for divers . The bay connects to the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Pensacola area Gulf of Mexico offers dive enthusiasts a playground of fun with thousands of dive sites to meet the expectations of divers of all experience levels.
In the early 1970s Escambia County began constructing an artificial reef system. At that time the county deployed “Casino Rubble,” “Three Barges,” and “Liberty Ship” as artificial reefs. In the mid-80s Escambia County created a Marine Recreation Committee for the purpose of artificial reef development. Today the development of reefs continue in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and includes Spanish galleons, ships of war and WWII aircrafts. Whether you are visiting Pensacola or live here, an incredible diving experience awaits.
Places to Scuba Dive
- Oriskany Reef: After nearly two years of delays caused by hurricanes and permit issues, the USS Oriskany was successfully sunk on May 17, 2006, to become the world’s largest intentionally created artificial reef. Hundreds of boats passed by the “Mighty O” after she was towed to the deployment site about 22 miles offshore from Pensacola. The U.S. Navy used more than 500 pounds of plastic explosives to blow holes into the 888 foot aircraft carrier. The Oriskany was sunk in just 37 minutes. The Oriskany Reef is located at 30° 02.600’N; 87° 00.400’W. The uppermost structure is located at 30° 02.555’N; 87° 00.397’W.
- Blackwater Bridge Rubble : This artificial reef was created from the remains of a bridge. It’s located approximately eight miles off the Pensacola Pass. This location is home to many tropical fish. The location of this reef is N30:11.800 / W87:14.170.
- USS Massachusetts: This is located nearly two miles off the Pensacola Pass.
- Park East: This area is mostly for shore snorkeling and has over 40 oyster tree reefs. It is located at the parking lot just past Portofino.
- Dive Trail coordinates
Where to Get Scuba Diving Lessons
Scuba Diving Charters and Adventures
Other Nearby Places to Dive
- Vortex Springs
- Morrison Springs
- Destin Jetties
- St Andrews Park Jetties | More photos
- Pensacola Beach
- Perdido Pass Jetties
If you enjoy shore dives or you’re not a trained diver and would like to snorkel, there is a new reef on Pensacola Beach. It’s only 450 feet offshore and is said to have jack fish, Spanish mackerel among other sea life. The water is shallow at approximately 14 to 15 feet.
You don’t have to fly to the Caribbean to scuba dive and snorkel. Enjoy clear, beautiful waters full of sea life right here on the Gulf Coast.
Photo by wwarby