While trying to colonize this part of modern-day Florida in 1599, Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano's expedition was hit by a hurricane on this spot. After the hurricane moved on, Luna lost at least six vessels. In 1992, a Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research team discovered one vessel labelled as Emanuel Point I. In 2006 and about 1,320 feet away from Emanuel Point I, a second vessel was found. This second discovery benefited by a $203,368 grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources. A team led by graduate student Jim Collis from the University of West Florida (UWF) Division of Anthropology and Archaeology made the most recent discovery. Work on these vessels continue today as other vessels are still sought after.


  • Part of a wooden carving found on the site
    Part of a wooden carving found on the site
  • Artifacts at University of West Florida's Anthropology and Archaeology Division
    Artifacts at University of West Florida's Anthropology and Archaeology Division
  • Work conducted on one of the vessels
    Work conducted on one of the vessels
  • UWF students prepare for a dive
    UWF students prepare for a dive
  • Computer rendition of one of the sites and possible location of parts under the sediment
    Computer rendition of one of the sites and possible location of parts under the sediment
  • A UWF student takes a dive
    A UWF student takes a dive
  • Rendition of Luna landing on Emanuel Point
    Rendition of Luna landing on Emanuel Point
  • What Luna's vessels would have appeared in 1599
    What Luna's vessels would have appeared in 1599

Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano was an officer in New Spain (Mexico) when he was tasked by the Viceroy of New Spain, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, to establish a settlement on the Gulf Coast that could also be used as an overland route to another place the Spanish were keen on settling: Santa Elena (St. Helena Island in South Carolina) and Tybee Island (in Georgia). Luna, with 13 vessels and about 1,500 soldiers and settlers left Vera Cruz on June 11, 1599. 

Arriving on August 13 at Pensacola Bay, Luna and his men made landfall the next. For the next few weeks, he dispatched one vessel to New Spain to announce their arrival to the bay, two others were prepared for a voyage to Spain and foraging and exploring parties were sent out. By September 19, and before the remaining vessels could be successfully unloaded, a hurricane struck. It was recorded that five of the vessels sunk with one pushed into a grove further inland. From the day the hurricane struck up to April of 1560, Luna was forced to leave (although he left some people at Emanuel Point) the area for supplies and help, given that he could find no local Indians where he had landed. He went west to modern-day Alabama, found some Indians and named this smaller settlement Santa Cruz. Viceroy Coronado sent two relief ships to Luna, however those supplies only lasted for a few months and Luna also barely avoided a conflict with another set of Indians as Luna pushed further inland. Luna was recalled in January of 1561. 

A couple months later, Luna joined an expedition though Cuba and Santa Elena. All the while the Emanuel Point settlement last a few more months before they finally left. This area would not see any more European settlers until 1698 when another Spanish group arrived. 

After spending years searching for Luna's sunken vessels, one was finally discovered in 1992 by a Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research team, followed by a second discovery in 2006 made by a team led by graduate student Jim Collis from the UWF Division of Anthropology and Archaeology. Work continues to this day. 

"New Luna shipwreck confirmed after 450 years." Pensacola News Journal, October 12, 2007.