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Snorkeling the Beach in Destin Florida (Starfish & Sand Dollars)

In this article, learn about snorkeling the beach in Destin, Florida for Starfish, Sand Dollars, seashells, and more.

Essential Snorkel Gear

First, the essential snorkel gear is very important to make your time snorkeling the beach in destin florida more enjoyable, comfortable, and productive. 

In addition, your chances at finding starfish greatly decrease if you you spend time adjusting & fixing your snorkel gear.

Tourists tend to purchase snorkel gear from the Souvenir shops that occupy every other block of a beach community.  

These shops are ‘tourist traps’ in my opinion.  

The quality of their snorkel gear is not good or the snorkel gear is severely over-priced.

I’ve been snorkeling since I began swimming at a very young age. 

Consequently, I’ve owned many different snorkel masks, snorkels, and fins over the years.  

Do yourself a favor and spend the extra few dollars and buy a decent mask, snorkel, and fins. 

I’ve listed the essential snorkel gear below:


Snorkel Camera Gear

Obviously, I love videography and filming as most of my blogs compliment my YouTube videos.  It is so awesome to capture special moments to experience over and over again.

If you would like to capture those special moments as well, I recommend and use the following gear.



My family and I find starfish (sometimes called Sea Stars) by way of snorkeling in Destin, Florida.  

In this article, I show you how to find starfish and the reasons starfish are fascinating creatures.  I review the essential snorkel gear to make the most of your time on the water.  

Also, find out the best time and place to increase your chances to find starfish. 

Best Place to Find Starfish

The best place to find starfish is snorkeling at the beach.  

My family and I spend a lot of time in Destin, Florida and find starfish quite often.

Starfish like rocky areas because they use the rocks to hide from predators and catch creatures on the bottom.

The only rocks in Destin, Florida can be found on the west and east jetties.

In addition, the best strategy to find any organism is to learn the behaviors of their food source.  

Also, starfish are carnivores and feed on crustaceans and mollusks, so find their food to find them.

If snorkeling is not an option for you, I’ve heard of people finding starfish on the beach.  

Low tide is the best time to find starfish that get stranded from the receding water from high tide.


Spotting Starfish

Finding starfish while snorkeling the beach in destin florida takes practice on sandy beaches.  

Starfish normally sit on top of the sand in deep waters and just below the sand in shallow waters.  

They are difficult to spot below the sand, but you get the hang of it after you find a few.

Try and spot the starfish in these pictures:


The same two pictures are below with red arrows point to the location of the starfish.


The starfish in the pictures above are not difficult to spot.  They are not visible at all most of the time and the only way to find them is to spot their outline.

Once you spot the starfish, dive down and grab them.

While it is legal at most beaches to collect dead starfish, it is illegal at some beaches to collect live starfish and other sea creatures.  I encourage you to know the laws before you start collecting starfish.

My family and I keep dead starfish we find.  We bring up the live ones for a few pictures and then put them back where we found them.  The dead starfish are easy to spot because they are normally upside down or they lost their coloring.  Starfish are not always dead just because they are missing a limb – more on this later in the article.  Below are a few pictures of dead starfish.


Types of Starfish

Before you decide to grab a starfish, be sure you know what type you are grabbing.  Some starfish are poisonous and others are protected by the Wildlife and Fisheries (like the Bahama/Cushion Sea Star).

The two types of starfish I have found at the beach in Destin, Florida are the Royal Starfish (Sea Star) and the Two-Spined Starfish (Sea Star).  The Royal Starfish are pictured in this article.


Starfish Fun Facts

Starfish are not only beautiful, but they are also unique and fascinating creatures.

There are over 2,000 species of starfish.  While most starfish have 5 limbs, there are some species with many more limbs.  They can rejuvenate a lost limb, but it can take up to a year.

Starfish have tiny suctions cups on each limb that are referred to as feet.  

Each limb can contain up to 15,000 feet that move in caterpillar-like synchronization.  

Their feet can form a glue that will bond indefinitely with a rock or prey item, with an adjacent tube releasing a solvent to release the bond once the starfish is ready to move on.

Some starfish in the Pacific Northwest can measure one meter across and weigh up to 11 pounds.

Also, Starfish have no brain and no blood.  They use filtered sea water to pump nutrients through their nervous system.  

Furthermore, Starfish have eyes located at the end of each limb, but scientists are baffled as to how they can see without a brain.

In addition, Starfish are carnivores and feed on mollusks and crustaceans as I mentioned earlier.  

They also will become cannibals if their food supply diminishes.  When starfish capture prey, they use tiny suction cups to grab their food.  Also, their stomach exits their mouth to digest the food, and reenters the body afterwards.

Starfish are not fish.

Rather, they are related to sand dollars and sea urchins.  

They thrive in warmer climates and some species live in colder climates as well.  Starfish can only live in salt water.

Some species of starfish can live up to 35 years.  

They can also switch their gender at will depending on various conditions.  

The cushion starfish are always born as male and switch to female later in life.


Other Wildlife

The beach in Destin, Florida is full of wildlife.  If you are not interested in learning how to find starfish, you may be interested in the other wildlife you may encounter while snorkeling.

Sand Dollars

Sand Dollars (sea biscuits) are plentiful at the beach if you know where to find them.  They are plentiful on the second sand bar, which is roughly 50 – 75 yards from the edge of the water.  You can also find them closer to shore, but they are not as plentiful.  Most beaches allow you to keep a certain quantity per day per person as long as you have a valid fishing license.

It is important to put them in a mixture of 1 part water and 1 part bleach if you decide to keep them.  Otherwise, they will smell really bad.

Sand Dollars are not hard to find as they tend to be visible on the ocean bottom.  There are times when they bury just below the sand, so keep an eye out for their outline.  If you think you see a sand dollar below the sand, dive down and stir up the sand to make sure before you grab it.


I was raised fishing the brackish waters of south Louisiana for redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and other species.  There are many redfish patrolling the beach close to the shore.  I managed to get fairly close to them before they felt threatened.


Another interesting creature you may encounter at the beach are stingrays.  Most people are afraid of stingrays, but they are very docile creatures until you step on one the wrong way.  Stingrays can hide very well in the sand because they are a common prey for sharks.

Stingray at the Beach

Shells and Fish

There are plenty of tropical fish and shells at the beach for you to encounter while snorkeling.

Most of the cool shells are on the shore, but there are some in deeper waters with live creatures in them.  Some fish tend to follow you around while you swim looking for food.  If you drop a shell or sand dollar, they will swarm around it.

Gulf Sand Flounders are fun to find because they are well camouflaged.  They blend with the sand so well that you won’t notice them until they move.


Snorkeling – Great Family Activity

There are very few activities for the whole family as enjoyable as snorkeling.  

Furthermore, snorkeling is also a great full body workout, which is an added bonus for Stacey and me.

My family and I have been snorkeling since we became a family.  Even when our kids were very young and unable to swim, they were snorkeling with floats while on our back.  Our kids are now pros at snorkeling and can navigate through the waters better than Stacey and I at times.

While snorkeling is fun for the whole family, it is important to have snorkel gear that is comfortable and functional.  

Also, I have links below to the gear that we use, so be sure to check those out.  

Another important thing to have while snorkeling in the ocean is a raft. 

Moreover, A raft can be the central point for your family to snorkel from and it can also store items you don’t need the entire time such as flippers.  

Ultimately, we use the raft in the picture below, but any raft will work fine.

how to find starfish - family boat



In conclusion, I hope you learned how to find starfish in florida on the beach. 

Additionally, visit this article to learn about paddle boarding and how to see more ocean wildlife such as sea turtles and sharks.  Lastly, for more snorkeling and family fun, check out our Disney Cruise adventure.


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