Navarre Beach Marine Science Station - Snorkeling/Diving

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The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station has it all---an education-geared pavilion, camps, community events, and three artificial reefs.

Written by

Morgan Rice


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

68.1 miles


1 of 5 diamonds

The Marine Science Station pavilion itself revolves around educational activities low in difficulty and often geared towards children. The reefs are easy to navigate and excellent "starter" locations for new snorkelers and divers.

Time To Complete

0 hours


Spring, Summer, and Fall

While the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are temperate year round, late Spring and early Fall are favorites for snorkeling and SCUBA diving along the NW FL Panhandle. Before May and after early October, wet suits are generally preferred for comfort, and the summer months can often times bring jellyfish.

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




A cool 17 miles from the hustle and bustle of Pensacola Beach, travelers can find Navarre Beach---and its marine science station---a quiet respite from the crowds that typically flock to the western side of the island. The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station pavilion can be found immediately east of the main beach, and serves as a classroom, public education center, and research mainstay for Navarre’s three artificial reefs. Touch tanks, reef identification classes, and self-guided trips to either reef make this destination a worthwhile stop for locals and visitors alike. Tour the Station pavilion, SCUBA dive at the two Sound-side reefs, snorkel at the Gulf-side reef, or paddleboard and kayak both; this gem offers countless opportunities to get up close and personal with local marine life.

What Makes It Great

More than just an activity center, the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station has steadily become a beacon of education and enrichment in this hidden beach town. The Station and staff, along with eager volunteers, are consistently involved in community efforts. Their research on the invasive lionfish has proven invaluable, with more local restaurants gearing up their chefs to perfect the delicate process of plating a fish that would otherwise devastate native populations, and the staff’s enthusiasm towards caring for the local ecosystem will undoubtedly continue to shine through each generation of students that passes through the Station’s doors. And, the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station’s work continues to pay off: the reefs are healthy and thriving, and the Station itself is expanding into a full discovery center, complete with a wet lab and deep sea exhibit. 

A few steps outside of the pavilion walls, you’ll find the East and West Sound-side reefs, favorite spots for SCUBA newbies and veterans alike. The Gulf-side reef offers fantastic visibility and is a mecca for snorkelers, swimmers, paddleboarders, and kayakers. All three reefs offer glimpses at rays, sharks, and countless species of fish, but if you’re hoping to catch everyone’s favorite marine animal, head over to the Gulf-side and pay a visit to one of the resident green sea turtles!

Who is Going to Love It

Kids, adults, swimmers, kayakers, paddleboarders, snorkelers, divers, marine enthusiasts---the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station and its surrounding reefs are for just about anyone. Younger children will love the touch tank and other hand-on activities, while the reefs can be enjoyed by anyone who is confident in their water safety skills. Paddling out on board or kayak to theGulf-side reef on a clear day promises a peek at the life teeming around the reef for those who want to skip the fins and mask.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Pensacola Beach, simply head east on Via de Luna and enjoy the scenic route along the National Island Seashore; from anywhere else, head straight over the Navarre Beach bridge and hook a left at the stop sign. To pay a visit to the pavilion first, take the first available left onto Blue Heron Ct., and park anywhere you like near the Station. The Sound-side reefs can be reached from this access point, as well. For the Gulf-side reef, continue to the second parking lot on the right---you’ll see the red and white diving flag painted onto a pavilion. Parking here can be scarce, so an early start is recommended. Our biggest tip? Don’t speed anywhere on the island! This stretch of beach is home to protected wildlife, and the speed limits are strictly enforced.

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Navarre Beach

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