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Santa Rosa Sound

Santa Rosa Sound and its prolongation, “The Narrows”, form a 37.5 mile long inland waterway connecting Pensacola Bay with Choctawhatchee Bay. Santa Rosa Sound is part of the Gulf Intracostal Waterway and varies in width from approximately one eighth of a mile at its narrowest to 2 miles at its widest span. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by a 40 mile long and very narrow barrier island known most commonly as Santa Rosa Island but also known as Okaloosa Island at its easternmost end in the Fort Walton Beach area. A depth of 15 feet can be carried for a distance of about 13 miles from Pensacola bay, but the eastern portion of the sound is filled with shoals and 5 feet is the greatest draft that can be taken through to Choctawhatchee bay.


The sound is famous for the quantity and quality of its fish. The salt and brackish backwaters surrounding Pensacola abound with life. Redfish, spotted seatrout, sheepshead and southern flounder all call this area home. The larger bays and sounds support populations of Spanish mackerel, crevalle jack, king mackerel and the occasional keeper gag grouper. Trophy red drum run through the inshore inlets and channels. King mackerel, cobia, amberjack, grouper and red snapper are available around the many artificial reefs, ledges and offshore high spots.

Featured species include Amberjack, Cobia, Gag Grouper, Crevalle Jack, King Mackerel, Red Drum, Sheepshead, Southern Flounder, Spanish Mackerel and Spotted Seatrout.


Three bridges span Santa Rosa Sound allowing for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Starting from the west there is the Bob Sikes Bridge, or better known as the Pensacola Beach Bridge that connects Gulf Breeze to the north with Pensacola Beach to the south. The Pensacola Beach Bridge has a 65 foot clearance. The middle bridge is the Navarre Beach Bridge connecting Navarre to the north with Navarre Beach to the south and has a 55 foot clearance. The easternmost bridge is Brooks Bridge which connects Fort Walton Beach to the north with Okaloosa Island to the south. Brooks Bridge has a clearance of 55 feet.

Santa Rosa Sound Nautical Chart

Below is a 2007 nautical chart of the Santa Rosa Sound from the NOAA Office of Coast Survey. If you click the image below it will zoom to 1597×467 pixels to give a better perspective and a bit more detail. Should you want the nautical chart itself click here, but beware, it’s a 14,982×4381 pixel .PNG format image weighing in at 3.9MB. Depending on your Internet connection you may wish to right-click and save as to your own computer. The usual obligatory disclaimers apply,… use at your own risk, etc., etc.

Santa Rosa Sound Range Lights

The Santa Rosa Sound range lights is a lighted range that has been established to mark the channel across the bar that obstructs the eastern end of the Narrows leading from the bay into Santa Rosa sound.

The front beacon is painted white and shows a fixed red light 36 feet above water.
Approximate position: Latitude 30° 24′ 5″ N., longitude 86° 35′ 42″ W.

The rear beacon is painted red and shows a fixed white light 51 feet above water. It is about 1 mile to the westward of the front beacon. The rear light is 1,400 feet S. 89° W. (S. 86° W. mag.) from the front light.
Approximate position: Latitude 30° 24′ 5″ N., longitude 86° 35′ 58″ W.

Related Internal Links:
Quietwater Beach Road Directory
Pensacola Beach Map

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